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10 Reasons Why You Should Take a Break from Social Media

By Tracey Dowdy

I recently posted this as my Facebook status: “I hope someday all our lives are as fantastic as we say they are on Facebook.”

Is it just me or does social media make you feel like your friends are living in a minivan commercial of happy children, handsome husbands and perfect teeth, with no yoga pants, fossilized chicken nuggets or temper tantrums in sight?

Maybe it’s time to take a break. I’m not suggesting you delete your Facebook or Instagram account, but maybe it’s time to step away and gain some perspective. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. You’ll gain perspective. Nothing encourages narcissism more than social media. It’s important to remember our online persona is as carefully crafted as any celebrity’s. We may not be paying a publicist, but we are just as meticulous in putting only our best selves out there. No one’s life is as perfect as our Facebook profiles suggest.

2. Did I mention you’ll gain perspective? Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that the world keeps on moving even when we’re not online. We’ve become a culture that feels the need to document every meal, every Starbucks order, every outfit, every moment of every day. Let’s face it, none of us is that important.

3. Escape the popularity contest. Ever spent more than a minute drafting your Facebook status or allowed your lunch to get cold as you craft the perfect Instagram snap of your meal? We don’t always need to be the funniest, cleverest, or most creative person out there.

4. Boost your self-esteem. Taking a break gives you the opportunity to look around and see how good things really are. Going through life by constantly comparing oneself to others is a blueprint for dissatisfaction. There will always be someone thinner, wittier, better dressed … and that’s okay.

5. Boost your overall happiness. Studies have shown social media has a negative impact on our general happiness as well as our self-esteem. That’s not a surprise to anyone who’s browsed a friend’s vacation pictures while stuck in a cubicle at work, or looked at Instagram photos of fabulous meals while standing at the kitchen sink eating a microwavable dinner. Social media has morphed into a web based popularity contest and we shouldn’t measure our success or gain happiness through “likes” and comments.

6. Take back your power. By taking a break, you take back ownership of your happiness. When you fret over the number of “likes” on a photo or the number of birthday wishes you receive, you’ve given others – sometimes total strangers – power over you. At the risk of sounding like a late-night infomercial, take it back. That power belongs to you.

7. You’ll be reminded of who is important. My family is scattered between two countries and across thousands of miles, so social media is invaluable in keeping us connected. But, it’s easy to spend so much time on those we’re connected to online that we neglect those right in front of us. Be with who you’re with. That may be the most poorly constructed sentence in the English language, but I mean it. Shift your focus to the people who are in the room, in your house.

8. Time Management. Keeping up with social media takes time. Most of us would be surprised how much time we waste. Don’t believe me? Stop and think about how many times a day you check in. Time management tools like RescueTime or Klok can be eye-opening about how productive you really are.

9. Boost productivity not just self-esteem. Now that you’ve got all that time back, you can sit back, be creative, and reflect. Social media is all about what’s new, what’s trending. Having freedom and flexibility in your schedule allows you to reflect, sort through the noise, and find out what’s real and valuable.

10. Re-establish boundaries. Finally, you can re-establish boundaries. I have a “No tech at the table” rule for family dinners. We don’t have the opportunity to sit together and catch up often, so when we get the chance, I don’t want any of us distracted by things that can wait for 20 minutes.

We live in a hyper-connected society and it’s easy to get caught up in the world we’ve created through social media. I challenge you to take a break, even for a day. You can thank me later!

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.

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