Love it or hate it, social media has become an integral part of people’s everyday lives and now almost half of the UK population use it.

In some ways, the internet is a bit of a double-edged sword. Whilst online bullying, a fear of missing out and comparing yourself to others can have a detrimental effect on your well being, on the flip side social media has also had a positive impact in reducing the stigma attached to mental health issues.

Perhaps monitoring our internet usage and balancing our time on and offline could be the key to a healthy online lifestyle. If you think you might need a bit of a digital detox then read on!

Girl working on laptop

Connected and Contactable

Instant messaging services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger mean that we are contactable at all hours of the day and night. It doesn’t help that people can often see when you’ve logged in and viewed their message, which leads to an expectation that you’re available to reply immediately. All of this can mess with our mental health.

WhatsApp has functions to turn off your ‘online’ status so why not give this a go. If you’re challenged about your lack of engagement then honesty is always the best policy. If you feel like you need some time away from cyberspace, just be upfront and tell people you’re having some digital downtime.

Schedule Your Time Online

If you rely on the internet for work then it might be easier said than done to disconnect from your customers and clients. But a bit of digitox could be beneficial whether you use social media for business or for pleasure.

There are a whole host of social media scheduling tools out there which allow you to create your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts in advance. You’ll still have to log in to reply to comments or queries but you could try dedicating set times of the day to respond to these. Scheduling is a good way to get organised and feel more in control of your online life.

Our FOMO culture means that we often feel that if we aren’t constantly checking our phones then we might be missing out on something important. Which often isn’t the case!

Reduce the Noise

Ofcom says we spend between 15 to 30 hours online a week with 16-24-year-olds being the most active. That’s a lot of time online. And with so much digital ‘noise’ going on it will probably come as no surprise that research shows that students with poor mental health may be greater users of social networking sites.

If you have social media notifications pinging at you left right and centre then try turning the notifications off. Or log out of your apps. Or delete your apps altogether! Whatever it takes for you to feel a little less overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be forever of course, just until you feel as though you have more of a life balance back.

Why not install a handy app, which not only help you monitor how many times a day you pick up your phone a day, but also which apps you’re using the most.

Experience the Great Outdoors

It’s not just our mental health that’s suffering from excessive internet usage, our physical health can suffer too. An active lifestyle is a healthy lifestyle, so try swapping some of your internet time for some time in the great outdoors.

Being around nature has been proven to have all sorts of health benefits from lowering your blood pressure to improving your focus and energy levels. If you live in the city then head to a quiet spot like a park or garden to stroll around, or even an indoor garden if the weather is rubbish!

Looking to the Future

Organisations such as Public Health England have already helped to get a ‘national resilience’ programme rolled out into schools which educates kids about the risks of social media and how to deal with issues that arise from using it.

Whilst we may be a way off having internet or social media addiction classified as a mental health disorder, with more and more research emerging into the impact it can have on our wellbeing it’s going to be a hot topic for years to come. 

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