If you’re anything like me, irregardless of your personal politics, you’re probably physically drained, emotionally exhausted, and simply worn out from the political campaigns of the past year. After the election, I felt compelled to temporarily unplug from social media for a bit of rest and relief from the ubiquitous political vitriol. I learned there is even a fancy term for taking a break from social media: social media cleanse.
My brief respite seemed helpful in refreshing and strengthening my spirit. But does taking a break from social media actually do anything for one’s mental health? According to research, the answer is “yes.” Research has also shown connections between social media usage and depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Jacqueline Nesi, a clinical psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina, writes:
“Social media can be a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, but excessively using social media—at the expense of in-person interactions with friends or family—can negatively impact relationships and well-being.”
Jacob Barkley, Ph.D. and psychology professor at Kent State University, agrees that taking a break from technology could mitigate anxiety by lessening the stressful obligations some people associate with constant communication.
Biblically speaking, solitude is a valuable practice. The best example is Jesus, who “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Jesus, God Incarnate, sought out solitude after performing miracles (Mark 1:35), in times of grief (Matthew 14:13), before choosing the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12–13), in His distress in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39–44), and at other times. Solitude was a consistent practice in Jesus’ life. Jesus also invited His disciples to share times of solitude (group solitude) with Him…
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place” (Mark 6:31–32).
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed-out, it’s appropriate and beneficial to unplug, take a break, get some rest, and allow yourself to be renewed by whatever nurtures your spirit. Shalom!