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Give up Facebook, lower your cortisol

Give up Facebook, lower your cortisol
The daily use of Facebook brings with it an undeniable amount of stress, Australian psychologists discovered. When Facebook users turn their backs on the social medium, their cortisol levels plummet, and their amount of perceived stress decreases.

The researchers divided 138 Facebook users aged 18-40 into 2 groups. One group continued to use Facebook, the other stopped using it for 5 days. Before the experiment started, and on the last day, the researchers determined the concentration of cortisol in the saliva of the test subjects. In addition, they questioned the subjects with questionnaires.

In the saliva of the test subjects who had to do without Facebook, the concentration of cortisol dropped. The amount of stress reported by this group of subjects also decreased. However, this was offset by the fact that because of the lack of Facebook the subjects experienced their lives as less pleasant.

Give up Facebook, lower your cortisol

"Our cortisol findings in particular suggest that Facebook use can have measurable effects on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical functioning and the body's responses to stress", write the researchers.

"Taking short breaks from Facebook could be beneficial to one's health, as any prolonged stress could contribute to mental and physical disorders. Precisely how long the breaks should be, how often they should occur, and when they might become too long, are questions that could not be addressed by our research."

"However, given that it is already known that 'too much' Facebook can reduce one's feelings of well-being [PLoS One. 2013 Aug 14;8(8):e69841.] and increase negative mood via social comparison [Computers in Human Behavior (2014) 35:359–63.] the added knowledge that taking a break can reduce one's physiological stress might cause the typical Facebook user to consider whether he or she might indeed benefit from a Facebook vacation, even though it risks feelings of being socially disconnected."

"As Facebook has quickly become a permanent fixture in everyday social life, addressing questions about people's use of such online platforms should help us more fully understand how our evolutionary 'old' brains are coping with such rapidly developing social networks."

J Soc Psychol. 2018 Mar 20:1-12.

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