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Sharp Health News

10 things to do instead of scrolling through social media

Nov. 26, 2019

Woman reading a book

Do you check social media while standing in line or waiting at a traffic stop, or when you’re supposed to be working or completing other tasks? Do you wake up and immediately check how many likes a photo you posted the night before received, or take time to see what your online “friends” were up to that day right before you go to bed?

If so, you’re one of approximately 223 million Americans who use social media. On average, social media users check their accounts at least 10 times a day — and spend a total of two and a half hours scrolling and posting every day. That means that each time you feel the siren call of social media, you’re spending an average of 15 minutes online.

Have you ever stopped to think what else you could be doing with all that time?
According to research, many people — especially young adults born after 1994, known as Generation Z — regularly consider quitting or taking a break from social media. In fact, 64% of this group, ages 18 to 24, are turning away from social media and cite a variety of issues surrounding the various platforms as their reason, including:

  • It’s a waste of time.
  • There’s too much negativity.
  • The quality of the content is mediocre.
  • I have concerns about my privacy.
  • It’s all become too commercial.
  • It negatively affects my mood and self-confidence.

10 ways to use the time you aren’t on social media
Whether you agree, or have other motivations for wanting to take time away from social media, here are 10 ideas for how you can use each of those 15-minute breaks:

  1. Send three family members or friends you haven’t connected with in a while (over social media doesn’t count) a heartfelt email or text. Ask them about their life, tell them at least one tidbit about yours and make plans for the next time you’ll connect — hopefully, in person.

  2. Do a 10-minute cardio blast featuring jumping jacks, burpees, high knees, squat jumps and push-ups with a 2.5-minute warm-up before and 2.5-minute cool-down after. Experts have found that even brief bursts of exercise provide significant health benefits.

  3. Take a 15-minute power nap, which can restore your energy and recharge your mind. It’s also a great time to give your eyes a break from screen time blue light exposure.

  4. Spend some time with nature, even if that’s tending to houseplants, walking on grass outside or touching a tree. Exposure to nature reduces stress, improves your mood and increases your ability to focus.

  5. Get those browning bananas, which happen to have a bunch of health benefits, off your kitchen counter and bake some banana bread.

  6. Take the dog for a walk, pet the cat, chat with the gerbil or spend a little time watching the birds outside your window. Letting yourself go to the dogs — or any other animals, for that matter — for a bit can improve your health and help reduce feelings of loneliness.

  7. Clean off your desk, file papers, sort through the mail, pay a few bills and empty your trash can. Mess causes stress and tackling a few simple tasks can provide a sense of accomplishment that certainly beats whatever mindlessly scrolling through social media might have to offer.

  8. Make a list — or two, maybe more — of everything you need to get out of your head so that you can move forward with a clear mind. This brain purge can include a to-do list for work, honey-do list for home, grocery list, list of loved ones you need to contact, or list of services you need to schedule. Along with providing a home for all those random thoughts swimming through your head, making lists offers accountability, relieves stress and creates order.

  9. Do something analog: read a book, magazine article or newspaper. Going old school not only centers you, it can also remind your brain how to take in information the old-fashioned way while educating you and giving you a break from the outside world.

  10. Do a 15-minute closet purge. Look for the items you haven’t worn in a year; the clothes you hoped to one day fit in again (especially if you haven’t donned them since your high school days); the clothes that make you fidget, pull and squirm; and anything that gets a “look” from those who love you most. Donate them or sell them — either way, you’ll feel great about the newly free space.

Just think: If you gave up social media for one whole day, you could accomplish every item on this list. However, it’s OK to start slowly and build up the amount of quality activities you swap for the quantity of time you spend on social media.

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