Signs you're suffering from digital drain (and it's time for an online detox)

When social media goes from a fun distraction to a source of stress, something has to change.

Loads of us are concerned about just how much time we’re spending online, from sitting at a computer all day to scrolling our timeline at night.

But few of us can ditch tech entirely. So how do we maintain a balance?

The key is spotting when we’re feeling overwhelmed, knowing what’s causing it, and taking a break when we need to.

We chatted to psychotherapist Emmy Brunner, CEO of The Recover Clinic and author of Trauma Redefined, about the signs of digital drain to watch out for.

Head’s up: if you’re nodding along to multiple signs on this list, it might be worth taking some time offline.

Signs you need a break from social media:

  • You feel anxious every time you look at your phone
  • You find yourself compulsively checking social media multiple times a day
  • You spend the majority of your day on social media platforms to the point it impacts your daily life, such as avoiding work, neglecting your own self-care or running late for appointments
  • You find yourself constantly comparing yourself to others on your feed and feeling inadequate
  • You feel that social media is having a negative impact on how you feel about yourself and your interactions with others
  • You notice your mood dips during or after your time online
  • It’s adversely affecting your social life
  • You find yourself obsessing over likes and interactions
  • You feel pressure to be perfect for social media
  • You feel emotionally triggered by social media
  • You don’t feel like the amount of time you spend on social media is under your control

Emmy tells ‘Social media has taken over and plays an integral part in our daily lives, adults, young people and children are consuming social media at increasing rates.

‘From the moment we rise in the morning until we lay our heads to rest at night we spend our days constantly swiping from platform to platform, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter or any other popular social platform.

‘We are sharing our day to day activities, thoughts and feelings with the world. Social media has changed the way we  live and interact with each other like no other.

‘We live in a society that profits from our insecurities and these platforms have exacerbated this.’

So you’ve realised there’s an issue… what next?

As we said, it’s not always easy to give up social media entirely. But you can take a more curated and conscious approach.

Habits to improve your relationship with social media:

Emmy recommends taking these steps if social media is making you feel rubbish:

  • Unfollow or remove anybody who doesn’t make you feel good about yourself
  • Use the mute or block function whenever you fancy
  • Report abuse to social networks
  • Turn off notifications or remove apps entirely from your device
  • Delete anything from your ‘to read’ or ‘to watch’ list, or those open tabs you plan to get to later. Clearing these out will help reduce overwhelm
  • Amend your privacy settings so you have more control over what information advertisers can access and how they can target you with it
  • Join groups and threads that make you feel understood
  • Schedule in time to do something mindful, fulfilling, and entirely separate from social media, like walking, painting, baking, or playing with a dog
  • Check in with yourself and your use of technology regularly. Take a moment to ask yourself how you feel when you’re on certain sites.
  • Talk to your GP if you feel your relationship with the internet is out of your control

And always remember two important things: the internet is not everything and you can always walk away.

‘It’s important to remember that not everything we see online (social media especially) is an accurate reflection of what is really going on in the world and/or an individual’s life,’ says Emmy.

‘It is so easy to believe what we see and be influenced by the highlighs of another’s existence.

‘Drawing comparisons between our own lives and what we see on social media can leave us feeling inadequate and less than.’

You are more than your tweets and your Insta feed. Never forget that – and if you do, take a break and get back to real life.

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