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Think about it: we are constantly surrounded by screens. We do all of our school work on a medium-sized screen, get distracted by a smaller screen, and then entertain ourselves at the end of the day by looking at a larger screen. 

Social media is impacting our mental health more than we think. Although it's great to use to connect with others, there are many toxic elements. Firstly, we are always comparing ourselves to another — our bodies, our feeds and our lives in general. However, for the most part, people just put the positive parts of their lives on social media which makes some people’s lives look “perfect," and therefore making our own lives seem lesser. I guarantee everyone has problems going on in their life even if on the surface they don't seem to. On the other hand, another issue is that people can often go to social media platforms to complain about things that may in turn put you in a negative mindset, and it may be something that you weren't even thinking about or aware of.

Also, our brains first thing in the morning are like sponges. Typically, we look at our phones first thing when waking up — including social media. Whatever we consume when we first wake up is what sets the tone for our day. If we're consuming toxic content first thing in the morning, we'll be instantly in that mindset for the rest of the day — comparing ourselves to others. By cutting out social media, you'll be starting your morning focusing on yourself and things that benefit you like drinking water, reading a book, planning your day, etc. 

Another issue is screen-time, in which a weekly notification not-so-gently tells you the number of hours you spend on your phone or other devices on average. Imagine how many hours of your life you have wasted on your screen. Without social media, you will be getting back so many hours of your time that you could be spending with loved ones or mentally beneficial things. You might feel anxious when you first delete social media because we're so used to checking it constantly; however, the benefits outweigh the temporary anxiety. These include higher self-esteem, reducing negative self-talk and comparison, longer attention span, conquering your fear of missing out and an overall improved mood.

I plan on going social media free the entire summer, and I encourage you to do the same, whether for a portion of the summer or the entire thing. It's so important to live in the present moment and focus on you because that's all we have at the end of the day. You will be surprised with how many things you can accomplish without the distractions of social media. Find things to do with friends and family without technology, outside or just try new and different things. 

What about memories? You can always take a bunch of pictures on your phone camera during the summer, then post a collection at the end of your cleanse. Or, remember not everything has to be posted! Live your life for yourself and not for other people. It's tempting to post everything for the world to see because that's the social norm, but not posting at all relieves a sense of acceptance from others – you aren't worried about likes, comments or who may judge you. You can focus on the things that matter. If someone needs to get in touch with you that badly, they can always text you. Find new hobbies like reading, painting, drawing or working out — things to help you self-improve or improve yourself throughout your journey of self-acceptance and becoming closer to people. I watched the documentary The Social Dilemma on Netflix last semester, and I highly recommend everyone watch it. It highlights the negative side of social media and how it can be an unhealthy addiction and negatively affect your mental health beyond belief. 

I challenge you to delete all social media for a week. Then, try for two weeks. After two, you should be used to not having it that you can do it for the rest of the summer. Remember, anything you will be "missing" from social media, either will still be there after your hiatus, or it wasn't really that important and/or beneficial to your life in the first place.

Alyssa Mehrberg is a junior majoring in Psychology and Ad/PR. She is from Fort Myers, FL and enjoys going to the beach and being in nature. She loves all things wellness and fitness related, as well as cooking healthy meals, psychological thrillers, and sunsets.
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