- Those who engaged in physical activity rather than social media reported feeling happier, less stressed, and less depressed.
- Exercise and screen time reduction both have mental health benefits.
- Social media usage can be reduced by switching off apps and letting friends know you are cutting down on screen time.
Taking up physical activity for just 30 minutes a day means feeling happier in just two weeks, according to a new study.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, participants who replaced social media with exercise felt more satisfied, less depressed, and less stressed than those in a control group, according to a team led by assistant professor Julia Brailovskaia, Ph.D. At the Mental Health Research and Treatment Center at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, German assistant professor Julia Brailovskaia, Ph.D.
Several months after the study ended, researchers reported that the positive effects of the two-week period remained.
Since we cannot predict how long the Coronavirus crisis will last, we wanted to provide as many free and low-threshold mental health services as we could,” said Brailovskaia.
This illustrates the importance of reducing our online availability from time to time and going back to our human roots. It is easy to incorporate these practices into one’s daily routine and they are completely free – and they help us keep healthy and happy in our digital age at the same time.”
An overview of the study’s findings
A random assignment was carried out to randomly distribute 642 volunteers into four roughly equal groups.
During the first week, the first group reduced their use of social media by 30 minutes a day. Continuing to use social media while increasing physical activity by 30 minutes per day, the second group increased physical activity by 30 minutes per day.
Combining social media reduction with increased physical activity was the third group. There was no change in behavior in a control group.
A six-month follow-up survey was conducted before, during, and after the study.
A reduction in the use of social media, which skyrocketed during the pandemic as people sought to stay connected, has been associated with a greater sense of well-being, particularly when exercising regularly.
There was a decrease in social media usage among participants in all three non-control groups. Compared with the control group, the combination group engaged in more physical activity each week for six months after the intervention. Through the entire follow-up period, there was a positive impact on mental health.
Replacing social media time with other activities has many benefits
Clinical psychologist Amy Gooding is affiliated with Pathlight Mood and Anxiety Centers, a national chain of mental wellness centers.
We lose our own happiness when social media connects us to so many other lives, Gooding told Healthline.
As a result, she said, “we’re having trouble focusing on our work and being present in our lives.” When people are on their phones, looking at social media, they may be comparing themselves to others’ lifestyles, families and vacations.
Gooding noted that this can cause a decrease in self-esteem as well as a critical view of one’s self and experiences. People are unengaged with their environment and other people when they stare at their phones. Scrolling continuously can interfere with the ability to be calm and relaxed while resting or relaxing. It is possible for a person to be more engaged and present when they take a break from social media, and they can learn to be more comfortable with silence, relaxation, and being in the present moment.”
The benefits of 30 minutes of physical activity per day include improvements in stress management, sleep, mood, and energy. You should consider doing these things instead of using social media to relieve stress: Take a break from work to catch up with your friends’ activities, put limits on how much you use it, and take the time to go for a walk with your dog, play with your kids, hold a dance party at home, walk with a friend, or walk down your favorite downtown street with a friend.”
What you can do to reduce your time on social media
Founder and creator of 30 Day Challenge Builder, Edward Sturm specializes in engagement and content production.
Using time-management apps or involving others in a social media challenge can help someone make the most of their social media time.
It is recommended that you participate in a 30-day challenge with various types of accountability,” Sturm said. Make a deposit. By using the Rescue Time app, you can pay a friend $100 if you spend more than an hour on Facebook every day. You can also use social pressure to keep yourself from overdoing it. Keep your friends accountable for keeping you accountable as you complete this challenge.”
In the same way, exercising is important. Everybody can do burpees anywhere, according to Sturm. Spend the same amount of time on social media as you do 50 burpees a day for a month, and that will be one of the most beneficial months of your life. Your goals will be achieved if you keep yourself accountable via apps and friends.”
A person who scrolls endlessly probably needs a break, according to Dr. David Seitz at Ascendant Detox in New York City. There were a few tips he offered to help you wean yourself off social media.
“Time limits should be set for app usage,” Seitz suggested. Apple’s screen time feature lets you limit the amount of time you can spend on each app on your iPhone. The app will notify you when you are close to reaching your limit if you set limits for specific apps, such as social media. It may also be helpful to use apps such as Offtime, Social Fever, and Space. Limit your time on social media each day to 30 minutes and then gradually increase it.”
Seitz recommended uninstalling social media apps. Despite its drastic nature, this step can be incredibly effective. You might want to uninstall the apps from your phone if you have trouble sticking to time limits or using social media in moderation. Once you feel more self-controlled, you can always reinstall them. You may discover that you don’t need the apps on your phone as much as you thought when you get used to not having them.”
“Find another activity,” Seitz advised. Try to find something else to do instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media. You can reap the mental health benefits of physical activity, according to the latest research. Take up a new hobby, read a book, or spend time with friends and family. There is more to life than social media. Take advantage of this opportunity to re-teach yourself.”
Seitz advised his patients to tell their friends and family. Keeping your friends and family updated on your social media absence will ensure you do not miss important news or events. This way, you won’t feel the need to constantly check your feed, and you can relax knowing that you will be updated when necessary.”
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