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Between my time working as a emergency room nurse and nurse mom blogger, I use technology almost constantly. In fact, both of my jobs would be impossible to do without them. It would be no understatement to say I am dependent on them.
However, after a particularity stressful year I did a little soul searching to see where I could add a little more intention in my life. And minimizing my use of social media seemed like a good place to start.
After all, I mindlessly check one or more of my social media accounts several times a day. And as a nurse and mom my mind is spinning with 1000’s of to-dos already. How hard could taking a social media break possibly be?
Now, this may seem counter-intuitive coming from a nurse blogger who uses social media for business. I’m not saying nurses should give up social media permanently. But it may be helpful for nurses to take a social media break once in a while because our brains are constantly flipping through patient care tasks.
I did a social media break challenge for one week.
My experiment started easily enough. But just like clockwork the minute I stopped paying attention my fingers automatically tried to pull up my Instagram or Facebook accounts. Apparently, my social media addiction was more ingrained than I thought.
My plan required increased preventative measures to ensure success. So I went a step further and deleted both the Instagram and Facebook apps off my phone. That way if I wanted to use the apps I would actually have to sign in via the internet and type in my password.
Wouldn’t you know, just the annoyance of having to type in my password was enough to remind me of why I had started this experiment in the first place. I successfully created a barrier to help reinforce my social media addition recovery! (Nurses are solution finders, what can I say!?).
3 Reasons Why A Social Media Break Is Healthy For Nurses
#1. It gives nurses an opportunity for more personal social engagement
A social media break can remind us to be more present with real people. Sadly, social media is often not a real representation of what is going on in people’s personal lives. It is a magnification of what people want you to see: slivers of primarily positive information that appears flawless, effortless and often like never-ending, spontaneous fun (don’t we all want to project the best parts of ourselves?).
#2. It can increase productivity in things that matter most.
To make my point on this I’m going to create a hypothetical, but totally realistic situation: Let’s say a nurse browses social media for 15 minutes a few times a day: once before getting out of bed, once during a break from work, a couple more times at lunch and then one more time before going to bed in the evening (for a lot of people I know, that is a conservative estimate).
Social media browsing may seem like a harmless habit. But if you add up the time over a seven day period you are talking about eight hours a week. Eight entire hours that you will never get back! That is the same amount of time that non-nurses spend at work during a normal workday. Mindless internet and social media browsing can kill off the equivalent of almost 1 workday per week if you allow it to.
#3. You may fall asleep earlier and have better overall sleep.
Cell phones emit bright blue light that is meant to stimulate the brain. By looking at a cell phone before bed it causes the brain to stop producing melatonin, which is the hormone that cues the brain that it’s time for slumber. As a result, smartphone light can disrupt the sleep cycle which makes it hard to fall and stay asleep.
Nurses already have to forfeit some sleep as part of the job, especially, mid-shift and night shift nurses. Interrupted or lack of quality sleep is linked to myriad health care related issues including many cancers, depression, and weight gain. In other words, better sleep = happy nurse.
Taking a social media break is a great way for nurses to give themselves a mental break.
We all need to chill out once in a while and let our minds wander. Let’s give our brains the space to do so. Living a life of intention requires making conscious changes to habits that appear harmless on the outside.
Are you a nurse in need of a social media break? What other habits do you have that are not serving you well?
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