Burnout For Dummies
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Social media has become extremely useful for creating and maintaining social connections that otherwise wouldn’t exist. But social media can also be the reason you lose sight of real connections with people, the natural world, and even yourself.

The following five indicators might mean you’re ready for a break from social media:

  • You check your phone first thing in the morning and last thing before bed (and constantly during the day).
  • You know all the details of someone’s life but didn’t learn them by talking to that person directly.
  • In business and your personal life, you’re more focused on analytics and likes than one-on-one interactions.
  • You have a sneaking suspicion that you use social media more than you should—or that it gets in the way of other things.
  • Your social media profiles don’t reflect who you really are.
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Social media adds stress

Holidays, work transitions, family pressures — real life holds extra stresses from time to time. The anxiety of not living up to other people’s curated triumphs can add to your daily stressors. Social media also tends to stoke competitive fires, which means watching others’ lives can make you feel like you’re losing. Not only is that a bummer, but it can get awfully lonely.

Given all the perils that come with online interactions, you have some good reasons to rethink how you use social media and how it may impact your mental, emotional, and physical health. A competitive nature is great when you have a goal to reach, but the continual pull of emotions like jealousy increase stress hormones in the body. If you’re constantly stressed, those hormones keep wreaking havoc and, worse, your body actually becomes addicted to them.

Why a social media cleanse is necessary

Terms like detox and cleanse end up in a lot of conversations about improving wellness; addiction, meanwhile, indicates imbalance in physical and mental health. Social media addiction is a very real and present threat to your well-being. A detox is a good idea to fight even the potential for addiction.

Dopamine and serotonin are brain chemicals that partner up to help motivate you toward behaviors by rewarding you with good feelings. The trouble with social media is that it offers those same good feelings; you can easily become controlled by reward-seeking without realizing it, and that’s social media addiction.

Most people spend at least two hours per day on social media. And, since unbridled online access became a way of life (not that long ago, by the way) research has demonstrated we’ve become less socially connected, rather than more.

Regaining control and exercising personal choice are among the top two reasons to take a break from social media. A social media detox, or cleanse, puts the power back where it belongs and gives you more time for real-life adventures, opportunity for conversations with people, and space to take better care of your health.

A cleanse isn’t a permanent solution. And for many people, quitting social media altogether just isn’t a viable option. But even practicing better boundaries will have great benefits.

How to do a digital detox

When you decide to bite the bullet, you first need to evaluate how much time you’re spending on social media. Track your social media use for a week, and then follow these guidelines to make sure you get the most from your digital detox:
  • Decide how long you will (temporarily) give up social media engagement.
  • Cut 50 percent from your standard daily usage.
  • Delete all social media apps from tablets, computers, phones, and so on.
  • Turn off all other notifications you might receive.
  • Intentionally create a habit; plan something you will do each time you find yourself reaching for your social media fix.
  • Take note of how you react to not having the constant stimulation.
  • Have a plan for how you will utilize your loads of free time!
Overuse or addiction to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram siphon time you could spend learning a new skill, exploring new restaurants in your city, or helping others. If the idea of stepping away from social media (even temporarily) gives you anxiety, you might consider this a necessary reset.

How to manage your return to social media

The length of time you choose for your social media detox is entirely up to you, but having a plan in place for reintroducing social media will keep you from falling back into its trap.

• Approach social media with a less-is-more attitude. • Set clear boundaries about how much time you will spend using it. • Define certain hours when you will use it, and stick to those hours. • Refrain from using it while around friends and family. • Put self-care practices first. For example, follow a morning routine that involves meditation or exercise before checking online social media platforms.

Stay aware, but be realistic

Social media brings amazing benefits for building a business, boosting engagement, and fostering brand awareness. It is also helpful in keeping up with family and friends that live far away, as well as helping you stay informed about world events. But what might it cost in the long-term, especially when it’s used without structure and balance?

Research shows that social media addiction negatively impacts self-esteem. It creates competition but leads to no actual win. It promises social interaction and connection but reduces the amount of time we spend engaging with actual people instead of their online personae.

Becoming more aware of your behaviors gives you the power to change them. You become more resilient and able to stay calm in stressful situations. You regain more choice in how you spend your time and where you put your energy. Meaningful community helps you feel involved, and that motivates you to be more productive.

Eye contact, creativity, collaboration, and interpersonal communication are all necessary and important skills in business endeavors and personal relationships. Taking a break from social media, and then returning to it within guidelines that work for you, help you facilitate the real-life skills that may be even more important than online ones.

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