We all know that too much social media probably isn’t great for our mental health. But especially during the current health crisis, the power of unplugging from your smartphone for a while can be incredibly refreshing and beneficial.

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, learn more about how too much social media can impact our mental health ⁠— and tips for reducing your screen time.

The Power of Unplugging from Social Media

Too Much Information

Although our smartphones can be a great way to stay in touch while social distancing, spending too much time scrolling social media can negatively impact us. “The consumption of news has increased during the pandemic, we are seeing a jump of at least 15 minutes a day based on our research,” said Flixed creative strategist Matt Gillespie.

Even during more “normal” periods of time, heavy social media use has been linked to depression, anxiety, self-harm and more. Consuming social media too often can lower self esteem, cause you to feel inadequate, reduce attention spans and create an unhealthy obsession that distances you from more personal connection with others.

Despite the word “social” in social media, it has been found that high usage of apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat can actually increase feelings of loneliness. Reducing time on these apps can help you feel less isolated and improve your mental well-being.

Spreading Misinformation

Many of us are turning to social media, rather than other more reliable sources, to find information about the novel coronavirus. Facebook is the number one platform for COVID-19 news, according to a study by Flixed, a resource for streaming shows online and cutting cable.

To combat the spread of false information, some companies, like YouTube, are introducing fact-checking measures, especially related to health myths and “fake news” about COVID-19. Do your best to discern the facts from the fiction, and refrain from sharing alarmist posts or misinformation on your own social media as well.

Setting Social Media Limits

The Flixed study found that 43% of polled individuals were setting time limits on the news and social media that they take in from day to day. Furthermore, those who set time limits on their news consumption were more likely to report improved mental health than those who hadn’t.

Of course, setting limits can be hard, especially when it seems like there’s nothing else to do. Try your best to use willpower and stay aware of the time spent on social media, but if you need additional support, both iPhone and Android devices offer screen time tracking and app limiting features. These settings can also be helpful for managing screen time for children who are home from school.

If you are concerned about your mental health during this health crisis, we encourage you to reach out to a mental health professional, such as the local counseling services offered at Hancock Regional Hospital, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). If medical help is needed immediately, call 911.