How can I prevent digital burnout?

Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy approach to social media.

Many of us have already come to know the perils of social media. We’ve previously written about the risks associated with heavy use of social media, diving into the effects that it has on members of the younger generation as well as certain exploitative practices that certain apps and platforms have used to take advantage of their users’ personal information. 

While there have also been a number of notable initiatives undertaken by social media giants to protect the wellbeing of their users, the way that we interact with social media continues to have profound effects (both positive and negative) on how we make our way through the real world. This is why it's important to foresee and prevent digital burnout and each of the consequences that come along with it. 

What is digital burnout (and how can you prevent it)?

When we speak about the term digital burnout, we're describing a set of symptoms including fatigue, frustration, overexertion, and impaired concentration that persist over a longer period of time. These are caused by one’s use (and overuse) of digital media.

If you’re feeling like your media consumption and online habits can potentially lead to digital burnout, we’ve got a few tips on how to proceed.

1. Be aware that routine social media use can lead to a negative feedback loop

Constantly switching from one app to another can create a certain routine in your brain. Even if you haven’t gotten a notification, you may find that you’re still opening the app just to scroll through your feed.

2. Limit your screen time

Many phones have the option to limit screen time, but you can also do this yourself by choosing a limit on how long you want to be on your phone overall. This way, you can reduce your chances of becoming overwhelmed by the content that you interact with online. Tools like Avast Mobile Security also allow you to check your screen time and take responsibility to limit it according to your individual preferences.

3. Don't sleep with your phone in your bed

For the sake of your health, don't sleep with your phone in your bed. Although this can appear as an innocent habit, it can result in fragmented sleep and even insomnia.

Even small amounts of artificial light from your phone’s screen can potentially cause delays in your circadian rhythm. In other words, your whole day can get thrown off due to improper sleep. Opt for placing your phone away from your bed (in a shelf or on a drawer), or alternatively, leave it in a separate room during the night.

4. Don’t use your mobile devices at night

On a similar note, studies have shown that using smartphones at night — especially for young people — can lead to restlessness (and in certain cases, depression) due to excessive light exposure from a device’s screen. It’s best to set your device aside a few hours before you get ready for bed.

5. Experiment with a digital detox

If you’re up for it, you can try a digital detox. By nature, this is an exercise that’s done consciously and without the reliance on any of your devices. Digital detoxes can be done for an hour, several days, weeks, or months at a time, depending on your intention.

Further reading:
How cyber mindful are you?
Are you having the right conversations about online safety with your family?
How can I prepare my kid for digital independence?

How to seek help for digital burnout

If you’re still concerned about your mental health after taking these tips into account, it’s best to get in touch with your doctor or reach out to local health authorities. At the end of the day, your mental health is important and should always come first.

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