Over the past 18 months, we’ve mostly been confined to our homes, unable to do most of our favourite hobbies. While many of us picked up new hobbies, decorated our homes, or learnt a new skill during lockdown, a lot of us comforted ourselves with extra screentime.
Lenstore research shows that 76% of us spent more time on our mobile phones, while 34% spent more time watching TV. An additional survey found that 82% of us have increased our social media consumption since the beginning of the pandemic.
In times of stress, it’s only natural to turn to the things that provide us comfort – or so we think. However, social media has been linked to stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and other pressing conditions.
As lockdown restrictions have eased and we’re now able to do most of the things we love again, we won’t be relying on our screens and our feeds to keep us entertained. Why not take this even further and do a social media detox this new year?
Why should I do a social media detox?
You might be asking yourself, do I really need to cut out social media if I’m going to be using it less now? While you don’t need to, there are a lot of reasons why it could be good for you.
Social media’s effect on our mental health is well-documented. Not only can scrolling through our feed intensify feelings of loneliness and anxiety but it can also be genuinely addictive. Do you get a rush whenever you get a notification telling you someone liked your tweet, Instagram photo, or TikTok video?
That rush of dopamine has been well-studied, and it is also created through other addictive activities including gambling, drug usage, or eating our favourite food. However, over time we become dependent on this feeling and not receiving it on a regular basis can lead to withdrawal-like symptoms.
By deleting or muting your social media apps for a period of time, you won’t rely on these notifications to give you a hit of dopamine throughout the day, leaving you free to focus on activities in your life that you really love.
How will I stay in touch with my loved ones?
Now that most COVID-19 restrictions have eased or lifted completely, we’re free to spend time with our loved ones in person. That means you’re free to visit your grandparents and go out with your friends – whether that’s for a catch-up over food and drinks or a good old night out in the clubs.
What about those loved ones that don’t live as close to you, though? The continued uncertainty over holidays in a sunnier climate means this is a great time to get away on a staycation. If you have siblings who live elsewhere in the UK or friends who are at university across the country, taking a week – or even a long weekend – away to visit them is bound to give you a boost, as well as giving you that unrivalled holiday feeling.
We know this isn’t financially viable for everyone, so video calls are the next best thing. But, rather than video-chatting with a loved one that lives around the corner, save the virtual contact for the people you don’t get to see in person as much.
What can I do instead?
If you’re craving a holiday but travel restrictions are putting a halt to your Ibiza plans, there are ways to get away – all while learning a new skill. Ski trainer holidays are becoming more popular, and they’re perfect for the thrill-seekers amongst us. After the monotony of the past year, it’s a great way to add some excitement back into your life.
Many of these courses are accepting new recruits with COVID-19 safety protocols in place, meaning you stand much more of a chance of your ski holiday going ahead than a week in the Mediterranean sun right now.
This type of holiday ticks so many boxes – not only will you get to explore a new place and make memories that last a lifetime but you’ll also learn a new skill that could set you up for an exciting new career. What’s more, you can replace your social media dopamine hits with the amazing adrenaline rush you’ll get from hitting the slopes!
If you’re looking to get stuck into something new a bit closer to home, why not volunteer for a cause close to your heart? As well as providing vital support to those in need, volunteering makes you feel good and gives you a hit of endorphins, another feel-good hormone that makes us happier. But this is significantly longer-lasting than the flashes of dopamine you get from social media.
It’s only natural that we turned to our screens when multiple national lockdowns stopped us from going out and seeing our friends. Now that many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, we’re able to do most of the things we love again. That means we’ll naturally spend less time on social media, but to really make the most of 2022 and beyond, why not take a break from the short-term boosts of social media and instead get your dose of happiness elsewhere?