Digital Detox: 8 Ways to Take a Break from Social Media
Social media is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it helps us feel connected to our friends and loved ones, especially during hard times such as the pandemic. But there’s also a dark side to using social media daily: it is often associated with bullying, social comparison, and even obsession or addiction, which can bring about a number of negative effects on our physical and mental health.
Let’s picture this: you scroll down Facebook and you see your neighbour get her dream job, your sister eating the most delicious cake, and your friend having a great time with her children. All the while, you’re at home, bored and fed up with your current job. So, you start comparing yourself with your loved ones on social media and, instead of feeling accompanied and loved, you feel utterly frustrated. This is one of the many red flags you should be on the alert for!
If you find yourself feeling stressed, anxious, or frustrated when using social media, it’s probably time for a break. Does this sound like you? Here are 8 simple ways to take a break from social media and start your detox ASAP!
#1 - What Is a Social Media Detox?
A social media detox is exactly what you are picturing: a break from something that is doing you harm, in this case, social networks. You get to define how long this detox will take and how to carry it out. Maybe your digital detox involves removing just some of the apps that take most of our time and not others. Perhaps you want to stay away from social media for a month and not interact with anyone or you simply want to follow the advice of experts and reduce your social media usage to 30 minutes a day.
In any case, stepping away from social networks will be beneficial for your mental health, social life, and overall well being, making you more aware of how you spend your time and what you can do to improve your life as a whole.
#2 - How Much Time Should We Spend Scrolling Down Our Screens?
We can’t deny that social media has become a huge part of our daily lives. Tik-Tok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… They have slowly made their way into our routines and now help us be connected with our loved ones even if they live far away from us. However, we should also be aware of the dangers of hyperconnectivity to avoid going down the road of anxiety, loneliness, and even depression, though striking a healthy balance can be harder than you may think!
For example, one study published in 2018 (1) reports that social media use should be reduced to only 30 minutes a day to avoid mood disorders and not end up living in a distorted, virtual world of filters and captions. To start noticing the benefits of reduced exposure to social networks, you need to give yourself at least 3 weeks of rest.
#3 - How to Know if You Need to Rest From Social Media
If you often find yourself wondering why you never have time for your loved ones or for a hobby, the answer is simple: you’re probably spending much more time on social media than you think. When you’re scrolling down Facebook, half an hour may feel like only a couple of minutes! And all the time you spend watching Tik-Toks and liking photos of delicious food on Instagram can take a toll on your mental health (2). Here are some hints that can help you recognise whether you need to rest from social media for a while!
- You can’t stop comparing yourself to others. It’s hard not to compare ourselves with the perfect lives of our friends we see on social media. But don’t forget that this is only a small highlight of what people actually go through every day. Nobody posts about their sadness, hardships, and frustrations! If you find it hard to remember that nobody's life is perfect and cannot help but compare your reality to what you see on Instagram, then it might be time to take a break.
- You spend A LOT of time scrolling. Time flies when we are doing something entertaining and this certainly applies to scrolling down Facebook, Tik-Tok, or any other network. How many times have you realised you’ve been checking your social media for an hour when you thought it was only 15 minutes? If you are not sure how much time you spend on your phone, you can check in the Settings section of your smartphone. You might be surprised.
- It’s the first thing you check in the morning and the last thing you check at night. Using your phone should be a conscious decision and not something you automatically do, especially if you feel you may freak out if you are not able to check your timeline every few hours.
- You are distracted all the time. For many people, scrolling down social networks has become a roller coaster of frustrations and comparisons. At some point, it can stop being fun and start affecting your life in different ways, such as feeling distracted all the time. Itching about writing a Tweet or feeling the urge to upload a story of your last meal when you are doing something else are definitely warning signs that you need a social media break, and soon!
#4 - 8 Ways to Take a Social Media Break:
Are you ready to take the leap and break for social media but you’re not sure how to resist the urge of constantly checking your notifications? You’re not alone: thousands of people experience addiction to social networks (3). Keep on reading and discover 8 great ways to take a social media break (and do something meaningful instead!):
- Limit Your Social Media Time
This sounds simple and reasonable, right? You just need to plan your day and allow yourself a certain time (let’s say, an hour in total throughout the day) to check what your Facebook friends are doing. However, this might be the most difficult thing to do because it involves a lot of self-restraint! It can be really hard to reduce your social media time because you may feel like you’re “missing out” on their Instagram Stories or latest Tik-Toks. If you don’t feel capable of doing this on your own, look for some help and check out the next tip…
- Use Screen-Limiting Software
Staying away from social media can feel like a titanic effort sometimes, so blocking all apps with the help of software is a great idea. For example, Freedom is one of the most popular blockers you can use to set your own limits when using your favourite networks. You can choose to block the entire internet or only certain apps, which is very useful if you want to focus on your work but need a good connection to fulfil your tasks.
- Leave Your Phone in Another Room at Night
Tossing and turning before sleeping can tempt you into using your phone. After all, why not scroll down Instagram to relax and fall asleep? Well, this is a bad idea. First, because the blue light produced by screens can affect your circadian rhythm and produce sleep disorders such as insomnia (4). Second, because you’ve probably been using social networks all day long and you don’t even stop at night, which can produce loneliness and depression, among other negative effects. So, leave your phone in another room before going to bed and avoid the temptation of grabbing it if you can’t fall asleep.
- Turn Off Notifications
Every time you receive a message, an email, a friend posts a picture or tweets, you get a notification. Social media is designed to hijack your attention and remind you there’s something new to take a look at. While it can be exciting at the beginning (oh, look! Someone just commented on my picture, let’s take a look at what she said!), soon you may find yourself paying attention 24/7 to these notifications instead of what you were supposed to do at the moment.
Turn off notifications and reclaim your precious time! Not everything is urgent and needs you to answer immediately, especially when it comes to social networks. So, don’t feel guilty for doing away with those constant chirps and beeps. Your work and social life will thank you for getting rid of these distractions. We promise you won’t be missing out on anything important!
- Take On a New Habit
Abandoning social media, even if it’s only for a few hours, can feel daunting. So why not replace scrolling for other mood-boosting activities you enjoy (and don’t require a screen)? For example, you can go for a walk or a bike ride and you’ll be taking care of your physical health in addition to your mental and emotional state! You can also take up a new skill and learn how to cook, or just connect with yourself and journal for 15 minutes. The options are endless.
- Try Turning Your Phone off When You Hang Out With Friends or Family
Nobody likes to talk with somebody who’s always staring at their phone, no matter how much they love you. And imagine how disrespectful it looks if you are scrolling down Facebook when speaking to a co-worker or, even worse, your boss. The solution? Turn off your phone when hanging out with friends or when you know you have an important work conversation.
- Start Reading a Book
Reading a good book can help you carry out a digital detox and connect with yourself on a whole new level. Today, you don’t even have to buy physical books if you’re worried about their weight or size. Instead, you can buy a super affordable e-reader, such as Kindle, and have all your books in just one convenient device (which cannot access social media, of course!).
- Live the Present Moment
If you find it hard to forget about your social networks despite having turned off notifications and so on, maybe it’s time to practise mindfulness and live in the present moment. This is a type of meditation where you focus on your breathing and get rid of any type of thought that may distract you. You can use different techniques and guided imagery to reduce stress and anxiety while relaxing your body and mind. And the best part is that you can practise mindfulness anywhere and without paying a cent.
Control Your Phone - Don’t Let it Control You!
Probably, most of us are guilty of the sin of using social media as a default activity when we are bored or procrastinating. The important thing is for it to be a conscious decision to have some fun and feel connected to our loved ones during the day. Whenever it stops being fun (be it because it makes us feel anxious, frustrated, or plainly overwhelmed), it’s time to take action.
To detox from social media, you don’t need to utterly abandon all your accounts altogether. What’s crucial is to find a healthy balance between your “real” life and your virtual interactions. Try to turn off your phone whenever you need to concentrate on work or leave it at home if you’re catching up with friends. Don’t worry: you won’t be falling behind just because you choose to spend your precious spare time in a different way!
And you can always complement this detox with health supplements that help you look and feel your best, such as our Happy New You system, which will help you sleep better, boost your energy, and help you wake up every day in a good mood. And if you’re looking for a personalised recommendation of what products are the best fit for your current health issues, take our FREE Comprehensive Health Assessment. It will only take you minutes!