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It seems like we’re all addicted to our social media streams these days.
Even my mom, who is anything but technologically savvy, spends hours each day on Facebook, checking up on family and friends, commenting on posts and watching video clips.
And, while I know that she enjoys it and it’s a great way for her to stay in touch with people she might not otherwise get a chance to talk to or see often, there’s a downside. Not just for her, for me or teens — but for anyone who makes a habit of spending too much time on social media networks.
That’s because social media can cause your cortisol levels to rise. And that can be a big problem for your health…
Just like toxins, stress can infiltrate your body without notice. Not until the damage is done do you even realize there’s a problem.
So, just like bad foods and dangerous toxins, it might be time to take a health break from Facebook. Don’t panic, I didn’t say you have to give it up for good. It turns out some experts have investigated the effects of social media and how to undo the damage. They’ve come up with a suggestion for you…
5 days is all it takes
An Australian study published in the Journal of Social Psychology has found that kicking the Facebook habit for a period of just five days can decrease the levels of cortisol in your body.
Why is that important?
Because cortisol is your stress hormone — the higher the levels, the more stress your body is under.
And, it affects more than just how you feel…
Higher levels of cortisol are associated with an increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
- Heart disease
- Weight gain
- Memory and cognitive problems
- Sleep issues
- Intestinal disorders
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
- High blood pressure
Quite the list, isn’t it?
And, the study showed that just skipping your usual time on Facebook is effective at lowering the cortisol levels that can lead to all of those health dangers.
Even more important, it’s not the first study to show that taking a break from Facebook can help.
One study found that the more hours you spend on Facebook, the less likely you are to feel satisfied with your life. And, another study discovered that the longer your Facebook session, the lower your mood will be at the end.
And in a third study, Facebook use was found to contribute to anxiety with two-thirds of participants having trouble relaxing and sleeping after using social media sites.
Better social media use for better outcomes
Okay, so what can you do?
If you’re like most people, you don’t want to give up your social media outlets outright but you don’t want to be stressed, anxious, less satisfied with your life and depressed either.
Luckily, you don’t have to be.
Like the researchers found in the study above, just taking short breaks from it, where you’re not tied to the sites for hours every day, can help.
Also, it’s been found that if you’re active on Facebook — in other words posting yourself — rather than just reading other people’s posts, liking them or clicking links, you’re less likely to suffer negative consequences.
So, use your social media sites but use them wisely and remember to take breaks in order to boost both your health and your mental well-being.
Chronic stress puts your health at risk — Mayo Clinic
Beware High Levels of Cortisol, the Stress Hormone — Premier Health
The Connection Between Stress and Type 2 — American Diabetes Association
Facebook Use Feeds Anxiety And Inadequacy Says Small Study — Medical News Today
A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel — Harvard Business Review