break from Facebook

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.







6 Comments on Taking a Break from Facebook Might Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

  1. My story was not because of the loss of a child, but more the disappointment in reading posts from people during the political season. It was sucking life out of those relationships and I was openly grieving the loss.

    FB is something we need at all times to monitor. Disappointment, anger, wanting to engage in a written discussion vs. a one on one — it all moves you to agitation and away from peace. Listen to your emotions.

    Thank You sweet Sarah for this counsel and the journey we are privileged to take with you.

    • Sharon,
      Such insight and wisdom from you, friend! The political season made me feel the same and I found myself looking at facebook less. I also think your wisdom in regards to one on one conversations is so needed. It is truly easier to see the person’s heart and to express your true intent when you are having a face to face conversation. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I appreciate your insights so much.
      Praying for you,

  2. Over the past two years, I found my use of Facebook to be sporadic at best. I had long since deleted the app from my phone to avoid the constant notifications. I refused to download Messenger and instead would reluctantly sign on monthly to Facebook to check messages. Like most individuals, because of my daily schedule, I have to decide how much time I cam devote to certain tasks including social media. While I love and appreciate my ‘friends’ on Facebook and other sites, I can get recipes, political and religious opinions, vacation pictures, sunsets over crystal waters, etc. elsewhere. With the recent revelation about information sharing at Facebook, I figured there couldn’t be any better time to ‘break up’ with the site. Last week I deleted my Facebook account. Those people who I love and love me, know how to find me. I won’t miss you Facebook 🙂

  3. I did not loose a child , I lost my brother that was almost 10 years younger than I. I had to see the pain, the loss the toll that it took on my parents. I was the last sibling at home that had to deal with the pain. I watched my brother die but I also watched my Mother die shortly after from the grief and paid that she endured. Although my Mother did not physically die, she did emotionally. It was difficult because my Father healed faster than my Mother. I was caught in the middle and had to deal with everyday life. Help my Daddy to be understanding and try to bring my Mother back to life. However, I don’t think this allowed me to grieve as I should have. FB, funny thing I never wanted it but my middle sister created one for me. I used it as a platform to encourage others. However in reality I learned it was my daily encouragement or pep talk to get through the day. I did try to take a break, but I had so many messages and calls from others that wanted to know why I had stopped. I had no idea that so many actually took time to read what I was posting. I find myself coming to such sites as these to help heal for there are not any for siblings . I know my grief cannot be that as great as a Mother or Father but the grief is real and the pain is overwhelming.

    • Regina, Yes, your pain is real, because a sibling is a huge loss too! Although I wish you hadn’t experienced a loss, I want you to know you are welcome here. I have many who stop by who haven’t experienced the death of a child, but have experienced tremendous loss in some way. I think grief brings us together and it’s healthy to share our stories and healing together. I do think Facebook can be a good way to encourage others-and that’s how I use it now. It’s amazing how we can connect online so that the experiences we share are not so lonely but instead, build us up.

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