Why Social Media Cleanses are Essential To Your Happiness

It’s hard to watch relationships you worked so hard to build just fall apart. You put so much time and effort to build and maintain that relationship, but in the end, it’s just making you stressed out and unhappy. What do you do? Do you continue to work hard because of FOMO (fear of missing out), or do you cut that person out of your life for good?

It can be a difficult decision to make, but in some cases, ending toxic relationships is the right thing to do. When your mental health, happiness and well-being are at stake, is it really worth it to hold on to a relationship that makes you unhappy?

Whether you’re dealing with a toxic significant other, friend or family member, it’s always a good idea to evaluate the situation. What about the relationship do you like (if anything at all)? Then ask yourself what makes you unhappy about the relationship. It can take some self-reflection to realize that your relationship is detrimental to your life and your health.

I suggest considering a social media cleanse. I don’t necessarily mean staying away from social media for a period of time unless that’s something you believe will personally help your situation. I recommend scrolling through your list of friends/followers (depending on the social media platforms you use) and deleting or blocking the toxic person (or people) in your life.

I like to do what I call my “annual unfollowing spree.” I treat it like the Hunger Games, in that when I’m done unfollowing whoever I choose to, whoever is left on my social media knows that they are the real ones. I treat it like “survival of the fittest,” but instead, “survival of the friends.”

In this social media cleanse, I evaluate my friendships or relationships with my followers and following and decide if their influence in my life is positive or negative.

Are they constantly posting content that makes me angry such as political content or extreme viewpoints that I simply cannot stand to read? Are they always posting graphic or disturbing content that I quickly scroll past? Do they ever interact with me through social media or are they just there? I take all these factors into consideration when I’m unfollowing people on social media.

If I’ve never personally had a conflict with someone but we haven’t talked in a while, I don’t delete them. I only remove people who have caused conflict in my life or who exude negative energy.

When it comes to blocking people on social media, I only do so if I had a major problem with the individual which is what I suggest for those toxic people in your life. This way, they won’t be able to find you and reach out to you in the future. Blocking people is a good way to give yourself peace of mind knowing that you have cut ties with a person entirely.

You don’t necessarily need to straight up tell the person you’re blocking that you’re done with them unless you are in a relationship with them or you two are very close. That’s when it can get tricky. If you will possibly run into the person daily, then you may need to confront the person about the situation.

I personally don’t have any experience with this type of toxic relationship. The times I’ve used this technique were on people who I can easily avoid. I was bullied in my early years of high school, but that was at a time when social media wasn’t as big as it is now. In my situation, I was able to almost completely avoid my bullies since I switched schools.

I have used the blocking method on them now, though. They are blocked from my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Sadly, I can’t avoid running into them in public when I go home for breaks. Somehow, I still end up seeing them in person, but I feel good knowing that they can’t see the content that I post online.

Many studies have shown a link between toxic relationships and increased levels of stress. One study called the Whitehall II study confirmed that there is a link between toxic relationships, stress and health.

According to this study, which followed over 10,000 people over the course of 12 years, those who were in toxic relationships had a greater risk of developing heart problems than those who weren’t in toxic relationships. Possible heart problems include dying from heart attacks and strokes.

The Whitehall II study shows that people have adapted conserved transcriptional response to adversity, or CTRA, which deals with inflammation and low immunity, according to Dr. Will Cole. CTRA turns on the body’s “fight or flight response” allowing for short-term benefits like more healing, recovering physically and a higher chance of surviving if you were being chased by a predator.

With regards to toxic relationships, the study shows that stress caused by these negative relationships can result in “long-term activation” of the brain’s CTRA. This can lead to chronic inflammation and a higher risk of health problems including adrenal fatigue.

In our day and age of social media and smartphones, sometimes all it takes is tapping the unfollow and block button on a person to release some of the stress of a toxic relationship. If it does anything at all, it’s at least a start. Most of society today is so reliant on social media (I’m guilty of this), that we’re always on our phones scrolling through our feeds to see what our friends are up to.

It’s always a good idea to reevaluate who you are following and do an unfollowing spree, ridding yourself of negative people and content. This way, when you turn to social media, it will be a positive experience and not one that causes you stress.

I encourage you to monitor those you follow on your social media pages and take note of how those accounts make you feel. If they bring you down, consider removing them from your page. Some may consider unfollowing people mean and may be hesitant to do so, but it’s necessary when dealing with toxic relationships. It’s one of the first steps to getting away from negative people. All it takes is the tap of a finger.