20 Minutes Less Of Facebook Could Make You Happier & Healthier

mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant By Sarah Regan
mindbodygreen Editorial Assistant

Sarah Regan is a writer, registered yoga instructor, and Editorial Assistant at mindbodygreen. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from SUNY Oswego, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Woman Texting on Phone

We've all caught ourselves scrolling and wondered, how much is too much? And further, is cutting back on Facebook time an actionable way to improve our lives?

A team of psychologists from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany wondered the same thing, leading to new insight into how small changes can make a big impact: In their study of nearly 300 people, spending just 20 minutes less on Facebook a day for two weeks lead to personal improvements in more ways than one.

The participants in this research had an average Facebook usage time of about an hour, and other stats show across all social media, we may be spending closer to two and a half hours on our favorite social sites.

How much do we need to but back?

All the participants in this study were already spending at least 25 minutes a day on Facebook, with an average time of an hour. The research team divided them into two groups, with 140 people spending 20 minutes less on Facebook a day. The control group went about their Facebook usage as usual.

After just two weeks, the participants who reduced their Facebook time reported more physical activity, fewer cigarettes smoked, less depressive symptoms, and more overall satisfaction with life. And if you've found yourself impulsively checking or scrolling, get this—people also reported a reduction in symptoms of addiction towards Facebook, suggesting scrolling may be a habit we can break (and quickly).

And these positive effects continued, with sustained improvements across the board. After the two-week period, "the improvement of well-being and a healthier lifestyle, lasted until the final checks three months after the experiment," says lead author Julia Brailovskaia Ph.D.

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Why a little less goes a long way.

Another interesting factor to point out when it comes to Facebook and other social media is the two types of use: active and passive. Passive social media use, or when you scroll without really engaging, has been linked with greater symptoms of anxiety and depressed mood.

In this research, cutting back just 20 minutes was enough to reduce both active and passive usage time. Which, Brailovskaia notes, is significant, "because passive use in particular leads to people comparing themselves with others and thus experiencing envy and a reduction in psychological well-being."

So, it's not so much that we all need to stop our Facebook use entirely. Rather, cutting back just 20 minutes has proven to be a good number to start with if you're looking to make a little more space in your life for what matters. And if you need some inspiration to fill that extra time, this 15 minute meditation for sleep is great swap for that pre-bed scrolling time.

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