How ditching social media like Love Island stars could improve your health and self-esteem

With Love Island now well and truly in full swing, the Islanders have been cut off from social media for just over three weeks now, as they were asked to surrender their personal phones and online identities for the duration of the show.

Yet while waving goodbye to an endless TikTok scroll or swearing off the perfect Instagram selfie may seem like a tall order for some, one psychology expert has revealed that ditching social media could actually be beneficial for your health in the long run.

Keen to tell us more, Dr. Gurpreet Kaur, a clinical psychologist, sat down exclusively with OK! to explain why social media is so addictive in the first place – and how ditching it might even pay off.

To understand the benefits, first we need to understand why social media appeals to us, something that Dr.Kaur explained was actually pretty simple.

“Social media usage focusses our mind on content which is more often than not short, intense, stimulating and leaves users wanting more,” she said.

“It can act as an echo chamber, making us feel normal by showing us other people who look and feel the same as us and as a time filler, giving us a sense of something to do.”

More than that however, Dr.Kaur also explained how social media could even be considered a lifeline for some, as she added: “It can be a lifeline for people living in difficult home environments, giving them a sense that another world exists which they can feel connected to, even if it is remotely.”

Despite the clear appeal and positives it could have, there were some serious drawbacks, which many of us may well have first hand experience of.

“Social media usage can easily become unhelpful, disconnecting us from life in many ways,” explained Dr.Kaur.

“We can forget to look our parents, partners or children in the eye when we talk to them and even get angry and irritable that they are requiring our attention, we can stop looking up at the sky when waiting for the bus or we can struggle to pay attention to activities which require our concentration and attention for long periods of time.”

One prime example given, was how watching the latest shows on Netflix without phone checking could “feel like a stretch” because thanks to social media, our ability to concentrate on something for a sustained amount of time often becomes more difficult.

Dr.Kaur then added: “These downfalls can lead to a disconnect from our in-person lives with others and ourselves. It can quite easily lead to changes in our mental well-being such as irritability, low mood, lowered self-esteem and the dreaded comparisonitis which can be better referred to as the thief of joy.”

And that’s without adding in any external stressors such as cyber bullying, harassment, stalking, hacking or the spread of fake news.

So how exactly can waving goodbye to social media improve our mental health?


One of the biggest benefits of stepping away from social media is the ability to reconnect with our day to day lives.

“It can help to connect you to the life happening around you and what is important to you,” explained Dr.Kaur.

“Taking a break from social media ultimately gives you more time. How you decide to spend that time can vary.”

Whether it’s sitting down with a loved one, or engaging in some long overdue self-care, being able to reconnect with the world around you instead of constantly facing a screen appears to be one of the biggest advantages.

Productivity Boost

Another added advantage is an increase in productivity, which in turn may even help to increase self-esteem as we gain a sense of satisfaction from increased performance.

“The less time in front of a screen, the more time you have to get things done,” added Dr.Kaur.

She then continued: “It can even give you time to focus on spending more time with people in your life and building up those face to face communication skills again.”

This is particular important for those of us that may have forgotten how to engage face to face in a post-pandemic world, as more and more of us made the shift to working from home permanently, even after the end of lockdown.

Increased focus on things that matter

Let’s face it, social media dominates our lives far more than it should, with many of all too easily falling into the trap of comparisons and unattainable goals thanks to the green eyed monster.

It’s too easy to get suckered into the habit of constantly checking other people’s updates to see their covetable lives, rather than focusing on the one right in front of us.

It’s a draining experience – and by ditching social media, Dr.Kaur even argues it could help us to re-evaluate our focus and remember the things in life that truly make us happy.

“It can help you focus on activities which are more fun, energetic or soothing, increasing physical health as well as mental wellbeing,” she explained, before adding that this in itself carries plenty of health benefits.

“All of these can naturally increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety.”


Despite the clear benefits however, saying goodbye to social media isn’t always as easy as putting down the phone or stepping away from a computer screen. Sometimes, it can even be a painful experience.

“The most common disadvantage might be social isolation – individuals may feel disconnected from friends and family members who they stay connected with through these platforms,” explained Dr.Kaur.

“For those use social media to connect with others who share similar interests or hobbies or career progressions, there may be a loss of network and support.”

She also added: "There is also FOMO, fear of missing out, which can lead to a sense of being different, odd or weird for not doing what he majority of the world are now doing.”

Which is why, going cold turkey like the Love Islanders may not be the perfect fit for everyone, with the suggestion instead being to slowly wean off our dependence on screens and focus instead on other activities such as reading, craft, physical exercise or mindfulness.

Love Island continues every night at 9pm on ITV2 and ITVX


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