Scroll Free September: 5 reasons it might be good for your wellbeing

If you often find yourself subconsciously reaching for your phone when you should be busy doing something else, you’ll know how easy it is to get sucked into a black hole of endless scrolling on social media apps like Instagram.

These days, smartphones feel like an absolute necessity; research has found that UK adults now spend more time staring at their screens than they do sleeping – but health experts have warned that all that excessive scrolling isn’t good for both our physical and mental health.

That’s why one charity has come up with the idea of Scroll Free September, encouraging people to go cold turkey on their social media accounts for a month, in a similar style to Stoptober and Dry January (but for internet junkies).

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The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has launched the campaign following extensive polling by the charity that revealed that half of young users expect a break would improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Thinking of giving it a go? Here, we’ve listed just a few reasons why saying ‘yes’ to a scroll ban could benefit you…

1. Your sleep will improve

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If you suffer with sleep issues, one of the worst things that you can do is flick through your Twitter or Facebook comments last thing at night.

The blue light that is emitted from screen-based devices like tablets, phones and laptops interferes with the release of melatonin, the brain chemical that makes you feel sleepy. This is often why many people who sleep next to their smartphone feel alert and awake before bedtime, struggling to drift off.

2. You’ll be less stressed

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Various studies have researched the detrimental effects of the ‘always on’ culture on our brains. Research published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour found that 89% of students report phantom vibrations (where they imagine their phone is alerting them to its attention), while research from Ofcom has revealed that adults now check their smartphones on average every 12 minutes of the waking day.

Between texts, emails and social media, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands of keeping on top of your smartphone. Delete your social media apps for a month and you can drastically cut down on anxiety-inducing notifications.

3. It’ll improve your neck health

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Staring at your phone isn’t just bad for your brain, it’s bad for your neck and back too.

Doctors and physical therapists have long warned of the rise of ‘text neck’ – the posture we adopt as we stare at our phones, which increases the stress on the neck and top of the spine. Taking a break from looking down and can help to relieve any niggling neck and shoulder pains that you might be harbouring.

4. Your focus will improve

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Does it often feel like your brain has about 50 tabs open at once? Well, you’re not alone.

Many researchers believe that digital ‘multi-tasking’ on multiple screens has drastically reduced our ability to focus, making it harder to concentrate on a work task without reaching for your phone. Take away the distractions and you’ll find it much easier to blast through your to-do list.

5. You’ll feel happier

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Research has shown that adults and young people who spend a lot of time on social media are more likely to suffer from depression and body confidence issues. A study by RSPH found that social media use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep, while mental health issues in young people have risen 70% in the past 25 years.

It can feel like image-focused platforms like Instagram drive feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, and cutting down the amount of hours you spend lusting over over other people’s lives can give your mental health the boost it deserves. Chances are, you’ll feel happier, healthier and more positive without it.

- Press Association

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