By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 05 June 2020
“Screen time is a powerful drug and we can find the lure of social media irresistible. Even having your phone in your line of vision activates your brain, so make sure there are times when it is out of sight, especially in the bedroom. It speeds up our brains, making it harder to delay gratification and fuels comparison making us feel like we are not doing enough, or good enough.
FOMO is real. Screen time robs us of the opportunity to be bored, diminishing creativity and makes it hard to carve out time to rest. It contributes to overstimulation making it difficult to switch off at night and achieve deep, restorative sleep, ” explains Suzy Reading, qualified psychologist working with the new wellbeing toolkit, ThinkWell LiveWell (www.thinkwell-livewell.com).
“However, social media also allows us the opportunity to stay current and connected with people all over the world. With the fragmentation of family units, social media provides us the means of keeping relationships alive and in the moment.
There are also a wealth of uplifting and supportive accounts and organisations to follow, all of which can educate, empower and create a feeling of belonging, which is vital for wellbeing.
Many businesses and careers are flourishing thanks to social media so with mindful use there are many benefits to be found,” adds Suzy. World Social Media Day is all about celebrating social media, which if used in the right way, rightly so, it deserves a round of applause! Our experts have provided their top tips to help you switch off, so that social media is nothing but an added bonus to your life…
Ok, it’s time to put your phone down
A study revealed that one in five Brits check their emails before going to bed. We’re all guilty of something and if it’s not checking our emails then it’s scrolling on social media until midnight. It may seem obvious and almost childish but setting a bedtime is the first step to knowing when enough is enough on Instagram and having a good night’s sleep.
The UK’s leading nutritionist and author of The Natural Health Bible For Women Dr Marilyn Glenville explains, “Unfortunately, stress and lack of sleep can become a vicious cycle because the less sleep you have, the less able you are to cope physically and emotionally with the demand of everyday life and the more stressed you feel makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep and you can feel trapped in this never-ending cycle”.
Top Tip: If you’re a night-time thinker and you struggle to put your phone down and switch off then you could try adding a magnesium supplement such as KalmAssure Magnesium capsules by Natures Plus (£11.75, www.naturesplus.co.uk). Nutritionist and Fitness Instructor Cassandra Barns explains, “Magnesium is known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and is needed to relax our muscles and nerves, which helps us to fall into a peaceful sleep.”
Invest in Lemon Balm
It may sound unusal but “the lemon balm plant is a member of the mint family, which comes with a beautiful lemony aroma. It has traditionally been used to improve cognition as well as reduce stress and anxiety.
Studies have shown that supplementation with lemon balm may help to induce a sense of calmness which may be of benefit for those struggling with anxiety,” explains London’s Leading Nutritionist Lily Soutter (www.lilysoutternutrition.com).
So, if you feel like you can’t be without your phone, invest in some lemon balm and allow yourself time to induldge in another hobby – perhaps reading.
The rise in anxiety
“Social media makes many of us feel inadequate, unattractive, envious and jealous. Whilst it can be a useful tool, it can also be addictive. People develop an ‘illusion’ of being popular or having hundreds of friends – when, in fact, they have limited social lives. It is possible to hide behind a screen of social media and still be very lonely and isolated,” explains Psychotherapist and Psychologist Corinne Sweet, working with ThinkWell LiveWell.
Corrine adds that’s many strive for perfection on social media – “perfection is an impossible goal and can never be attained, so striving for perfection is futile. Nobody is perfect and we need to remember there is beauty in human imperfection. Striving for perfection becomes unhealthy when it becomes obsessional.”
According to research, more than half (57%) think social media creates “overwhelming pressure” to succeed. If social media is making you feel anxious, The Postcard to Anxiety module on the new mindfulness toolkit, ThinkWell LiveWell, can help change your response to the cause of anxiety (in this case social media).
No one can live a life completely free of anxiety – because we can’t control the world around us. But we can control how we respond to things we find challenging in our day-to-day lives including the demands and pressures online.