Social media is glorious fun and a colossal time-suck, not to mention pretty darn addictive. Here’s what happens when you pull the plug, even for a short hiatus.
You’ll get more work done, and you’ll do it faster
When you don’t have to worry about your devices buzzing left and right, you could find your productivity levels shooting through the roof. “The thing about social media is that it constantly interrupts us,” says Joanne Cantor, PhD, professor emerita of communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of the book Conquer CyberOverload. “When we stop ourselves to check social media again and again, it really becomes another form of multitasking, and multitasking makes whatever you do take longer, and you do it in an inferior way.” In fact, the American Psychological Association estimates that trying to juggle multiple tasks at once—such as clicking back and forth between Facebook and an important project—may reduce your productive time by as much as 40 percent. That’s a high price to pay for a few likes and comments.
You’ll get your creative juices flowing
If you find yourself stuck in a creative block, it might have something to do with your social media habits. Dr. Cantor says the key to an imaginative mind is taking breaks every now and then while you work with something other than social media. “Having that social media in the background and calling to you and asking you things interferes with your creativity,” Cantor says. By giving up social media entirely, you rid yourself of these nagging notifications and allow your creativity to flourish.
You might feel anxious at first
While the effects of quitting social media are generally positive in the long run, your immediate reaction may be one of stress and anxiety. These feelings are caused by a neurobiological withdrawal from the sense of being constantly connected. “If you’re using social media addictively, which some people are, you have elevated levels of dopamine, so when you stop doing that, there is some withdrawal,” says David Greenfield, PhD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction. Luckily, these feelings usually do not persist beyond the first few days of quitting social media, so you should be able to enjoy the positive effects soon enough. Here’s how to know if you’re addicted to your phone .
You’ll feel less stressed
Because social media has become so easy to access anywhere and at any time, we often feel compelled to pay attention 24/7 to what is taking place on our newsfeeds and timelines. According to Greenfield, this impulse to be constantly aware of what’s going on online leads to an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone. This heightened stress can bring along a whole slew of unfavorable effects on the brain , such as a reduced memory and an increased chance of depression. Staying away from social media makes you less prone to such a high level of cortisol, leaving you calmer and more focused. Find out more about the weird ways social media affects your brain .