The evolution of social media has brought about a new age of social interaction with its reach extending into almost every aspect of our lives. When the COVID-19 lockdowns hit, millions of us turned to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms to escape feelings of isolation, anxiety, and hopelessness.
While interacting on these social media platforms diverted our attention away from the impact of the global pandemic, it also has left many of us feeling anxious, insecure, and emotionally detached from the real world. The excessive social media use we now regularly engage in is linked to poor mental health and engaging in addictive behaviours.
By replacing just 30 minutes of our social media use with physical activity every day, we can improve our overall well-being.
Here are five benefits of replacing your social media time with exercise:
- Reduces Stress
You’re not alone if you get stressed out when checking social media. The platforms flood our feeds with the ongoings of others’ perfectly curated lives, polarizing political arguments and rants about who-knows-what.
Regular exercise results in significantly lower stress levels by releasing feel-good hormones such as dopamine and endorphins. Swapping social media use with exercise can help us regain a calmer mental attitude along with reducing the needless tension we experience daily.
- Eases Anxiety
Social media use can cause a deep sense of inadequacy. That may lead to loneliness, anxiety, and depression.
Stepping away from social media and adopting a regular exercise regimen can help reduce feelings of anxiety and loneliness. That, in turn, helps us form better relationships in the real physical world.
- Promotes Better Sleep
Checking social media before bed can keep us awake, as nighttime use can affect sleep through the stimulating-effects of light from digital screens. Specifically, the blue light emitted from electronic screens stimulates parts of the brain that makes us feel alert, leaving us energized at bedtime when we should be winding down.
Exercise can increase sleep quality by reducing sleep onset – or the time it takes to fall asleep – and decrease the amount of time we lie awake in bed during the night.
- Prevents Psychological Distress
Common behaviors associated with social media use like frequently checking messages and constant scrolling are linked with symptoms of psychological distress such as feeling sad or down, worrying excessively, experiencing extreme mood swings and withdrawing from friends and activities.
Conversely, developing a regular habit of physical activity can result in much calmer effects. Exercise increases the release of endorphins, dopamine, adrenaline, and endocannabinoids. These are all brain chemicals linked to happiness, self-assurance, competence, reduced stress, and even reduced physical pain.
- Boosts Mental Health
Regular exercise leads to increased productivity, time management, and environmental awareness. Choosing to focus on our body while exercising increases our ability to stay still, even while performing any activity. This stillness, in turn, enhances mental health.
Spending too much time on social media can result in the development of addictive habits, poor stress management skills and mental health problems. By increasing physical activity and reducing daily social media use, you can positively impact your well-being. It can be as simple as taking your dog for a walk, playing with your kids, having a dance party in your house, taking a hike, calling a friend and go for a walk, or window shopping down your local high street.
By Amanda Place
Amanda Place is a health and fitness coach based in London who has been featured on the Daily Express and Health & Wellbeing Magazine. Get weekly tips via her website.