Taking a break from Facebook may not only protect your private data, but also reduce your stress levels, according to a study. However, deleting the social networking account may make people feel more unsatisfied with their life, researchers from the University of Queensland in Australia found. They investigated the effects of a short break from Facebook on a person’s stress and well-being. “Taking a Facebook break for just five days reduced a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol,” said Eric Vanman from the University of Queensland.
“While participants in our study showed an improvement in physiological stress by giving up Facebook, they also reported lower feelings of well-being,” said Vanman, who led the study published in the Journal of Social Psychology. “People said they felt more unsatisfied with their life, and were looking forward to resuming their Facebook activity,” he said. The study involved two groups of active users of Facebook, with one group instructed to stay off Facebook for five days and the other group using the social networking site as normal.
All 138 participants in the study provided saliva samples at the beginning and end of the study to measure changes in their cortisol levels. Vanman said there were a number of theories behind the mixed results. “Abstaining from Facebook was shown to reduce a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol, but people’s own ratings of their stress did not change – perhaps because they were not aware their stress had gone down,” he said.
“People experienced less well-being after those five days without Facebook – they felt less content with their lives – from the resulting social disconnection of being cut-off from their Facebook friends,” according to Vanman. “We don’t think that this is necessarily unique to Facebook, as people’s stress levels will probably reduce anytime they take a break from their favourite social media platforms,” he said.
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