Ten years ago, no one was connected to social media like they are today. You didn’t live your life comparing yourself to others on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Tiktok. Living your life online is a very new concept and one that is definitely not understood, yet, as to how it affects your mental health or physical health.
Which is why a social media detox is so vitally important to healthy living.
Being on social media constantly can have very real health problems from exposure to EMFs on your phone or computer; poor neck posture being hunched over; and blue light spectrum from technology interfering with your sleeping.
However, we are not focusing on those immediate physical reactions of too much technology in this article. Instead, we are focusing on mental health.
A Better Life Without Social Media
Now, before you think I’m about to tell you to never use social media again, that’s NOT true.
I couldn’t do it myself.
But there are a LOT of benefits to limiting or even eliminating time spent on social media platforms.
I know from experience.
A few years ago, I noticed that I was always depressed after scrolling through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter for just a few minutes.
I would be angry, depressed and fearful. Plus, I started needlessly comparing myself to others.
This physical and mental reaction to what I was seeing on social media happened within minutes. Like two minutes into scrolling the platforms.
And yet, a lot of my work at the time was tied to being on social media and promoting blog posts, videos, products, events, etc.
A Relatively New Problem
Humans just haven’t adapted to this entirely new way of living. It has only been a decade or so since all of the social media platforms were created.
- Facebook started on a college campus in 2004 (with public roll out in 2006)
- Twitter started in 2006
- Instagram started in 2010
- Pinterest started in 2010
- Snapchat started in 2012
- Tiktok started in 2017
Look at those dates. Really look at them. It has been less than 20 years – less than a generation – before life as we used to know it was changed forever with social media.
People have had little time to learn how to adapt to social media being omnipresent in their lives. Or even study the effects that social media has on your mental health long term.
An Epiphany of Happiness!
Almost everyone gets burned out on social media. Everyone.
And they inevitably stay off of a platform for days to weeks at a time before they feel like going back on again.
You know what? Almost everyone who has done a voluntary social media detox comes back saying they are more rested, happier and more focused.
I know that I do. When I stay off of social media platforms for a couple days, I am happier. I get more work done. I start focusing on what’s important, including self care, friendships, family relationships and quality work. (It’s one of the reasons why I think minimalism should be more about reducing technology rather than stuff).
Even Casey Neistat, perhaps one of the most well known YouTubers, has sworn off social media in some ways (he explains how and why in this video below):
What is a Social Media Cleanse
A social media detox is different for everybody. The length of time to stay off social media, and how frequently you do it, is completely up to you.
But the common theme is to stop checking social media for a certain length of time.
You don’t get rid of social media accounts. You just give yourself some time to stop checking in and comparing yourself to others. Or dwelling on negative news and fear mongering.
Tips for a Successful Social Media Detox
- Alert your friends, family and followers that you are going offline (or off the grid, as some people say). That way they won’t be worried about your sudden disappearance online.
- Set up alternate ways to communicate. If you normally message your friends via Instagram messenger, then make sure you have their text number, phone number, email address or some other way to communicate online.
- Choose one or several online platforms to stop checking. Ideally you will want to stay off all social media. But maybe Twitter is the one that causes you the most stress versus pretty photos on Instagram. Then don’t use Twitter.
- Pick an amount of time. It could be as short as one day. Or a week. If you are really bold, you can do it for an entire month.
- Make dates with friends, family or your spouse. You might miss the “social” interaction of social media. So be sure you actually have other forms of socialization (you know, like people used to do it a decade ago). Meet for a walk. Go to a coffeehouse. Get a manicure together. Set up a kids play date.
- Consider journaling how you feel while on social media and off of social media. See how your mood and feelings are changed with the detox plan.
- Keep track of the time spent off of social media with a social media detox tracker. You can customize it with dates and social media platforms.
Your Social Media Detox Checklist
Whether you are doing a detox day each week, or a longer detox, here are 10 tips for a successful break from technology.
- Don’t check your phone as soon as you get up. Instead, choose to think about what you are grateful for before getting out of bed. Read a book or magazine. Or do gentle stretching. Or just enjoy more sleep!
- Use an alarm clock to wake up, not your phone’s alarm. It’s too easy to think you’ll just scroll really quickly after turning off your alarm.
- Turn off all notifications. This includes social media and breaking news stories.
- Set aside a time to scroll social media and stick to it. Choose whether it’s 5-15 minutes. And when. And then set a timer and don’t go past that time.
- Use alternate methods of staying in touch, such as phoning or texting or seeing each other in real life.
- Do something you enjoy. If there is a hobby you always wanted to do but never had time, NOW is the time!
- Take an entire 24-hour break every week at a minimum. Some people like this to be on the weekend or Sunday for a day of rest.
- Don’t check your phone for messages or texts when you’re with someone else. It’s rude. Case closed. Scan messages quickly to make sure it’s nothing important or urgent, but otherwise give your entire attention to the person who took time to be with you.
- Delete any app that you don’t use a lot.
- Unfollow anyone or any brand that doesn’t make you feel happy or good about yourself. There is NO reason to keep following someone if they don’t improve your life.