Spring is finally here, and for many, this is the time to start planning their summer vacations. But instead of waiting for the warmer weather to arrive, there’s a break you can take right now that will help you de-stress: a Face-break.
A new study published this month in the The Journal of Social Psychology concludes that a short-term hiatus from Facebook can help combat stress.
Researchers from the School of Psychology at the University of Queensland in Australia sought out to answer if taking a break from the social media giant would “elicit changes in stress and well-being” and measured the “perceived stress and well-being” of 138 active Facebook users with an average daily use of 2.8 hours. The participants were randomly instructed to either continue using Facebook as usual or take a five-day break from the site.
Those who took the hiatus showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who continued normal Facebook use. This suggests “that the typical Facebook user may occasionally find the large amount of social information available to be taxing, and Facebook vacations could ameliorate this stress — at least in the short term,” according to the authors.
Many of the participants went into the break with a skeptical view — “I will probably feel … upset as my social life will be totally stopped if I cannot [use] Facebook and cannot find my friends in Facebook, I will also feel like left behind as I will not be able to know what has happened with my Facebook friends in the coming five days.” wrote one — and actually came out of the study feeling a lower level of “life satisfaction” than the normal users.
Dr. Eric Vanman, a psychologist at the University of Queensland and the lead author of the study, on why this may have occurred:
“Abstaining from Facebook was shown to reduce a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol, but people’s own ratings of their stress did not change — perhaps because they weren’t aware their stress had gone down. People experienced less well-being after those five days without Facebook — they felt less content with their lives — from the resulting social disconnection of being cut-off from their Facebook friends.”
Vanman added that the group feels these results would most-likely apply across the board: “We don’t think that this is necessarily unique to Facebook, as people’s stress levels will probably reduce anytime they take a break from their favorite social media platforms.”