Disconnecting from social networks for a week can improve well-being: it’s time to do a “digital cleaning” | Technique

Maybe you’re on vacation and your phone has no signal, or you forgot to charge your phone and are now sitting in a waiting room, anxious to see what’s going on on Twitter or what your friends are up to on Instagram. Feeling uncomfortable when your mobile phone is not in your hand, as if something is missing, is a warning sign: it’s a good idea to disconnect. In most cases, you do not need to completely and permanently disconnect. Taking a break from social media for a week is enough to bring about significant improvements in well-being, according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networks May 2022.

In the long term, taking a break may be a way to manage your mental health, because taking a break increases self-control and awareness of the time and energy that is spent online. In addition, people are aware of everything they can do in their free time, such as go for a walk, see family or friends, or take a photo. hobbies old and even discover new hobbies. your self-esteem begins to improve and your mood changes; “You make changes that make you feel better,” says Marian García Ariguel, director of Orbium, an addiction and detoxification center in Madrid and Barcelona. The first step to digital cleaning It is to be aware of and assume the need for a change in behavior. Then comes the hardest part: implementing it.

Addiction versus bad habit

Although many people use the word addiction to refer to this significant difficulty in putting a stop to mobile phone use, it is itself a spectrum disorder that ranges from moderate to severe, and treatment can require professional help, medication, and extended rest. Health psychologist José Tamayo Hernandez explains that in order to distinguish between the problematic or addictive use of social networks and the normal or even bad habit, it is necessary to determine if there is “extreme psychological discomfort”, which is a negative impact on interpersonal relationships at work or study or abandonment fun activities.

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consult rada networks more than when waking up, before going to bed or when waking up during the night; writing or looking at posts while doing another activity, such as eating, walking, or talking face-to-face with another person; Frequently checking for any new notifications or responses on the network are some red flags that a behavior change is warranted, but it doesn’t always mean a bigger problem. “It is not possible to define addiction to social networks, or any addiction, by objective criteria, such as the number of hours per day devoted to this activity,” says Tamayo Hernández, and adds some examples in which, most likely, there is addiction to social networks: “When no The user is able to control his access, feels compelled to do so whenever he feels the urge or has the opportunity to do so, and when this leads to a breach of commitments, obligations and plans, or to drag society into isolation and abandon face-to-face communication. To this, expert García Ariguel adds the fact that there is often a decrease in cognitive functions, such as attention and concentration, in cases of addiction.

Another symptom that a bad habit has become a disorder is when a person feels stressed, irritable, or frustrated when they can’t access the Internet, either because it doesn’t work or is slower than usual, or if these psychological states are triggered by receiving too little. Likes or comments. This is when it becomes a matter of self-esteem.

Gabriel Pozuelo, a psychologist who has been working with addiction and social networking problems since 2018, explains that in general, very great importance is given to how much Likes And the followers a person has in networks. Although it is not, as such, a symptom of addiction, obsession with these numbers can be an indicator. “It will be necessary to investigate why this social approval is needed. We cannot make our self-esteem dependent on the number of “likes,” Pozuelo asserts.

Social networks should be like a window that opens, but not the main door.

Excessive worrying about posting every day and at any time can also indicate a more serious problem. In most cases, except for situations where networking is used professionally, this perception of the need to serve the public is unrealistic. “For this type of user we recommend lowering the activity. There will be a time that maybe it will take time to get used to it because it was done so much before that. But you have to find the balance with private life. After all, social networks should be like a window that opens, but Not the main door,” says the psychologist, who cares influencers Who have difficulties creating barriers separating personal and professional lives.

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The main challenge this group faces, he explains, is dealing with criticism, so his recommendation is to change perspective and give less importance to the “nice things” said on the networks: “Reading good comments always comes to you.” Well, it boosts your ego a bit, But we don’t have to give it much importance. When you start not paying attention to what social networks tell you positively, negative things start to affect you less (…) In the end, you give less value to social networks.

What to do to remedy abuse

Jumping from one video to another, from post to post, and from one social network to another for hours, without even remembering what you have watched, read or viewed in the last few minutes, is an example of when one goes into automatic mode, without realizing the expense of the content you are seeing. “Most people say ‘I’m not addicted, it doesn’t happen to me,'” says Pozuelo, “but then, when I invite them to look at the time they spend on social networks, they freak out: ‘Sometimes we don’t spend a lot of time, but we do it a few times. per day.” Therefore, the expert recommends installing applications that measure and give alerts whenever a certain limit of hours is reached. To prevent the phone from being an extension of the hands, he advises keeping the phone out of reach on a daily basis, such as leaving it in another part of the house. Night, he recommends replacing its use, at least one hour before bedtime, with another activity, such as reading a book or listening to music.

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To the list of recommendations, Jose Tamayo Hernandez stressed the importance of preventing the use of electronic devices, in addition to cell phones, while doing activities such as eating, walking, watching TV or chatting with another person. It also suggests disabling unnecessary push notifications completely, as well as uninstalling apps, deleting conversations, and leaving unnecessary group chats.

Disconnect to connect with real life

Recently, mental health experts have noticed an increase in the desire and even the need to disconnect from social media. “Not only for patients, but for my colleagues, family members and me as well,” acknowledges Tamayo Hernandez, who has been working on the issue since 2004. Marian García Ariguel agrees that the interest in setting these boundaries is gradually increasing, despite the fact that they are still difficult to achieve. For people who want to set rules and use the mobile phone more consciously, the expert recommends creating two-hour breaks to use the mobile phone freely, walking during moments of rest, doing manual activities and, above all, re-establishing personal contacts, such as chatting face to face with a person. Friends, without the phone in your hands.

For his part, Professor Emeritus of Clinical Psychology at the University of the Basque Country, Enrique Icheburosa, affirms that setting usage limits is “a positive thing above all when abused”, but that it is also recommended for everyone, although it is not. Is an addiction: “You have to disconnect from the network, to connect with real life, because everything is a matter of time.”

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