Social media sabbaticals becoming more common

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The current political climate and all those political related posts on social media have triggered an interesting trend. More and more people are trying out a social media sabbatical.

Going off-line, at least temporarily, can have positive health benefits. But for some, stepping away isn't as easy hitting the "log off" button.

For personal trainer, April Sutton staying connected on social media is a must.

"I don't think I could ever survive without social media because I've found a way that's leveraged my career so much," she said.

"I think social media is one of the most valuable tools people have," Ximena Larkin, publicist, said.

Larkin is all about convincing clients to have an even bigger presence on social media but realizes there's a fine line between staying connected and becoming disconnected from society.

"The biggest concern I have is I won't be present when I'm in a moment with someone because I'm too busy posting on line," Larkin said.

Psychologist Doctor Elizabeth Lombardo said social media can have an impact on your physical and mental health.

She suggests trying a 21 day detox to reset and reconnect.

"When you take that step back for a bit if you went on a 21 day sabbatical you probably would realize that I don't need to do that much," she said.

Recent research in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology shows the more time you spend on sites like Facebook, the more likely you are to be depressed, have higher stress levels and even suffer from feelings of jealousy.

"Theoretically, social media is supposed to lift you up it's supposed to be a way to connect with people and learn things hear funny stories, but if you are feeling worse about yourself, that's a huge red flag to stop," Lombardo said.

Taking a social sabbatical is catching on.

Ironically there's help on Facebook to let your friends know you're stepping away for a bit and even a hashtag.

At first busy mom, Liz Badrinath was reluctant to try a sabbatical. But she but felt going off-line could help her focused more on her family.

"There's this love hate relationship where I enjoy reading it but I keep hearing all of this negative stuff about politics that causes me to feel sad, upset and angry," she said.

Badrinath said cutting Facebook from her daily routine has brought her much needed peace.

And being social with friends in person not just on-line was a goal of Maurice Swinney.

Last year, he unplugged for six weeks and recently completed an eight week detox.

"The disconnect from social media for me is all about attaching it to something I'm trying to accomplish," he said. "I think the thing that surprised me the most was how calm I was and how people would allude to, 'Maurice you seem so peaceful.'"

Swinney said if there was something he absolutely needed to know friends would call. He's also considering another social sabbatical soon.

As for Badrinath while it was difficult for her to stay off Facebook at first she said she had no regrets signing off and reports feeling better and happier psychologically.
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