Even superheroes feel stressed and might need to step back from social media, as evidenced by actor Tom Holland’s decision to take a break and protect his mental health.
Holland, star of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” announced the self-imposed hiatus to his 67.7 million Instagram followers.
“I find Instagram and Twitter to be over-stimulating, to be overwhelming,” said the 26-year-old British actor. “I get caught up and I spiral when I read things about me online, and ultimately it’s very detrimental to my mental state.”
“Increases in screen time have complicated effects on health, which vary greatly,” said Paul Weigle, MD, associated medical director of ambulatory services at Natchaug Hospital, part of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network. “Studies indicate that those who spend the most time with screen media are the most prone to depression, behavior problems, low self-esteem and poor physical fitness.”
More celebrities speaking up about mental health
Holland is the latest celebrity to publicly focus on their mental health, after tennis star Naomi Osaka withdrew from last year’s French Open and Wimbledon, saying, “It’s okay to not be okay.” Olympic gymnast Simone Biles followed, saying competing would be unsafe if her mental focus and health weren’t sharp.
In his final Instagram message, Holland urged others to seek help when necessary.
“There is an awful stigma against mental health and I know that asking for help and seeking help isn’t something we should be ashamed of,” he said.
A powerful message
“This is exactly the message we think is so important to communicate. Not only is it okay to have a mental health problem, it is okay to talk about it. We are all human and not invincible. Sharing our personal stories de-stigmatizes help-seeking,” Dr. Ferrand said.
Signs of screen overload
You may need a digital break, like Holland, if you are:
- Withdrawing from family, friends and activities
- Losing or gaining weight
- Sleeping more or less than usual
- Struggling with low energy levels
- Noticing a decline in school or work performance
“We need to develop a healthy balance with ample daily time for adequate sleep, family activities, chores or homework, activities that should take priority over screen time,” Dr. Weigle said.
To avoid digital overload, try:
- Taking regular breaks. Set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes. When it goes off, put the device down and walk away from it. Read, go outside or chat with a friend.
- Stopping alerts. They tug you back into reading, playing or chatting. Put your phone on “do not disturb” for true peace.
- Creating screen-free zones or times, like the dinner table or bedtime.
- Plugging into life. Pull out the board games, try a new recipe or walk the dog.
“The signs of mental health issues are different for each of us. It’s important to understand your limits and how your body and mind react to the stresses in your life,” Dr. Ferrand said. “Seeking help when you need it is not a sign of weakness.”