Why taking a break from Facebook is good for you
It was after my son died that I realized it: Every time I was on Facebook, I would inevitably feel more discouraged afterward.
Sometimes I noticed it after reading a mom’s complaint about her child:
“My child will not sleep. I’m so frustrated!”
I knew these frustrations well since I was a mom, but at the time, I was deep in grief and not in a good place to handle typical parenting rants. These minor aggravations seemed small compared to my son’s empty bed that I had to deal with everyday.
Sometimes even happy posts made me sad, like announcements of pregnancies, weddings, or new babies.
As others gushed, “Congratulations! I’m so happy for you,” I read the comments and felt nothing. I desperately wanted to feel joy too, but could not muster up the enthusiasm.
What was wrong with me?
I knew that grief would make me feel sad for my own loss, but I didn’t know it would steal my joy for others. Recognizing this was the first step in solving my problem and prompted me to make a big change:
I decided to break up with Facebook.
Although it was temporary, taking a break from Facebook was one of the best things I did the year after my son died. It allowed me to focus on my healing without comparing my life to others. It also allowed me to turn down the “noise” in my life so that I could listen to God’s voice as I healed.
Now that I’m five years out from my son’s death, I’m long past feeling those emotions that used to trigger my grief. Social media is something I use to connect with others and I see the benefits.
But I’ve also realized that grieving people need space to heal. They need real connection and community. They need people to show up, not in the virtual world, but at their doorsteps.
This is what real community looks like.
Researchers have confirmed this. A recent study showed that face-to-face interactions can have a positive impact on mental health, while Facebook can lead to depression and have a detrimental effect on mental health.
This negative impact could even be more pronounced for someone in the throes of grief.
5 Reasons to Take a Break
from Facebook or Social Media
If you’ve gone through a loss in the last year, here are five reasons to consider taking a break from Facebook or social media.
1. For a time, grief colors everything around you.
Everything takes on what I call a “blue hue,” even the happy things of life. Because of this, I knew my response to others would not be my normal one. The problem wasn’t the platform, the problem was me. I needed time and space away from social media in order to heal.
2. Don’t let the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) stop you from taking a social media break.
My temptation to check social media multiple times a day was hard and I had to resist the urge to open the app. Sometimes I forgot and loaded up the page only to close it like a child who had been caught red-handed.
I felt disconnected from people. Yet when I spent time on social media, it didn’t fulfill my need for connection. What I really needed was time with friends.
Once I started looking at Facebook less, I stopped thinking about what I was missing and started living a fuller and richer life.
3. Social media can make you feel worse because everyone’s life looks better than your own.
This is not healthy when you are grieving. Gauge your emotions after you’ve been on social media. If you feel worse, it’s time to take a break.
4. Social media can aggravate negative emotions and stress.
When you have lost a child, it’s easy to feel frustrated at parents who are venting about misbehaving children on Facebook. It’s also to easy get drawn into an argument about a controversial topic when you are angry or sad.
Either way, a person in grief is not in a clear state of mind. Grief puts you in emotional ICU where anything can aggravate your emotional state. Take time to heal, step away from the social media noise and eventually your emotions will stabilize.
5. Even if you’re not ready to take a social media fast, consider setting limits.
Consider checking it once a day or even once a week. Some people even choose to go cold turkey and delete the app.
Fight the temptation to open it when you are sad or lonely. Instead, meet up with a friend. You will be amazed at how much better face-to-face engagement is rather than scrolling through your feed.
As it turns out, taking a break from Facebook was one of the best decisions I made as I healed from grief.
It helped me to stop comparing my life to others. It helped me feel less guilt, less frustration and ultimately, the break led me to a healthier place.
When I felt ready, I returned to Facebook again. I was ready to celebrate other people’s milestones without guilt. I was able to handle the good, the bad and the ugly without compromising my own mental health.
Breaking up is hard to do. But sometimes, taking a break is just what the doctor ordered.