Social media is consistently transforming our lives. It keeps us connected to family and friends, creates a community for like-minded people, and helps us share news quicker than reporters can publish a post. But sometimes, it can get a bit overwhelming, and a social media detox is the key to regaining focus in our lives.
Within this post, I am going to share with you why YOU need a social media detox and how to successfully unplug for weeks at a time.
It is time for you to see life outside of these apps and what happens when you live more present.
Are you ready for a social media detox?
8 Reasons You Need a Social Media Detox
1 // Mental Health
Unfortunately, all social media apps are formulated to create an addiction within you. It causes you to feel like you are missing out if you aren’t consistently checking what is [or isn’t] happening with everyone else.
This addiction is closely related to gambling due to the effects it has on your mind.
Check out this post by the Independent that shows just how bad social media can be for your mental health.
The addiction alone can have a horrible effect on your mental health, but addiction is not the only thing that can harm your mental health.
Social media can become toxic. It can cause anxiety and depression to increase dramatically in someone.
I say this because it has happened to me. This is one reason I took off an entire month from social media a couple of years back.
When social media is not used to solely connect with people, it can do much more harm than good.
Related Post: Mental Cleanse Challenge
2 // Creative Space
Social media can be the worst for sucking your creative energy. Are you noticing ideas aren’t forming as quickly? What about just not feeling creative at all?
Getting stuck in a non-creative mindset can very much be the result of too much time spent on social media.
Taking a step back to stop consuming other people’s creative energy could be just what you need to regain focus on your own.
Just some food for thought: If you are consistently being influenced by those who surround you, how will you determine the originality of your own creative abilities? Will you be able to keep yourself distinguished, or will you start to align with those you follow?
3 // To stop the unfair comparison game
Hopefully, by now, you realize that social media is all about highlight reels. There aren’t many who share their deep, dark struggles online.
While I have been known to share my journey with anxiety and depression, that is not my only struggle. And I honestly am not comfortable sharing more than I already have.
Everyone has their boundaries because we mostly want to be seen for living by example. We all want to appear like we have it all figured out and just live our lives. There is nothing wrong with wanting to point out the great things in life.
BUT when we start comparing ourselves to other people’s greatness, we often forget they struggle, too. We forget that they are trying to find their way in this world as we are. We forget they are human, too.
When you take a social media detox, you can regain perspective on reality versus the presence of what someone chooses to share. You realize that everyone you follow is just as human as you are.
4 // To stop procrastination
Social media is the BIGGEST time sucker of all! The wonderful feeds that never seem to end matched with never-ending recommendations of who you should follow or topics you should explore, and all the ads that appear and, strangely enough, match things you’ve searched or talked with a friend about recently.
If you are like me, you don’t need any help with procrastination. However, social media seems to take the cake in making it so much easier to put things off.
I’m willing to bet that you waste hours on social media a week instead of moving closer to your goals.
Could you imagine how much closer you could get to your goals if social media was not helping you procrastinate? I bet you could even accomplish some of the biggest and scariest goals that you’ve set for yourself this year!
5 // To actually be social
So the last reason I am giving you is probably the most confused by the younger generation [Yes, I am talking to anyone born after the mid-90s.] Social media does not allow you to actually be social.
Nope! In order to be social, you have to put your phone down and talk to someone who is in the same room as you. This may mean leaving your home to meet up with a friend or going to a relative’s house for brunch.
Either way, it does not include getting online to see what everyone who is not currently with you is doing.
It honestly saddens me that people think social media is the same thing as being social. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Getting out to have real conversations face-to-face with people is the only way to be truly social.
Now I won’t deny the fact that social media allows you to virtually connect with people in different locations all around the world. But it is still not the same.
6 // Live in the present without your phone
Do you actually know what is going on in the world around you? When I say around you, I mean immediately around you.
Are there birds playing about you or your loved one who is trying to get your attention?
When you put the phone down and focus on the present moment, amazing things happen. You start to notice the small things, enjoy your life more, and, best of all, stress less about the outside world.
Imagine enjoying a dinner out without your phone. The conversations you have actually mean something, and true connection is formed because there aren’t any distractions.
7 // To break the addiction
Social media apps are designed to create addiction. It is just as bad as gambling.
When you break that addiction, you eliminate the fear of missing out [FOMO]. Suddenly you realize that what you’ve truly missed out on is your present life.
If you watch someone on YouTube share their social media detox experience, most of them say that they will never go back to using their phones or social media apps the same way again.
Most of them want to live with more intention after the detox.
And it’s true! Once you break the addiction, you have a different perspective on your life and how social media fits into it.
8 // Remove any fears of missing out [FOMO]
While I touched on this in my last point, I want to reiterate it.
FOMO is a serious condition that makes us become addicted to checking our phones or social media to see what is happening.
The truth is that during a social media detox, life continues without us. However, you also realize that you haven’t missed out on as much as you thought you would.
There is a shift from freaking out about a social media detox to appreciating it, and it is when you let go of your FOMO.
Tips Before Your Social Media Detox Begins
To ensure your transition into your social media detox is as easy as possible, I’ve got a few tips to share with you. These tips are based on my previous detox experiences, and they help more than you know!
1 // Declutter who you follow, friends, and groups
One thing I encourage you to do is to take some time to see who/what you follow, the people you’re friends with, and what groups you are a part of. Clear out the ones you don’t know, don’t want to follow, or be a part of anymore.
This is a major benefit for when you get back onto social media because it will only include the people, pages, groups, etc., that you enjoy seeing.
Speaking to bloggers/influencers specifically: Don’t feel guilty for removing anyone from your circle of influence. It is easy to get sucked into follow-for-follow threads, follow loops, etc., because you want to support people within your niche.
If you don’t feel encouraged or inspired by someone, then how do you expect to genuinely support someone? [Truth: you won’t]
2 // Hide those you cannot unfriend but don’t want to see within your feed
We all have those family members or friends we cannot actually remove because so much drama will come as a result of that. Thankfully, you can mute or hide them from your feed, which is AMAZING!
3 // Declutter your messages within each app
If you really want a refreshed feeling as you reenter social media after the detox, going through your messages and clearing out old conversations can be a great way to create that feeling.
Just be sure not to delete something you’d like to reference in the future like I accidentally did…
How to Successfully Unplug from Social Media for ANY Length of Time
It can be hard to fully unplug from social media, but I know you are capable of doing anything you set your mind to doing.
Let me walk you through a few quick steps for unplugging so that you can get started in your social media detox!
1 // Log out & uninstall apps
This one is the most important of all the steps. You not only need to log out of all social media apps and websites, but you also need to uninstall these apps.
Removing the temptation of logging back in to check up on things will encourage you to stay off social media for your designated detox time.
2 // Have someone change your passwords
If you need additional support, having someone change your passwords can be very helpful!
Figure out which friend or family member is the biggest pain in the neck when it comes to getting them to do something they don’t want to do because you don’t need them giving in when you ask for them to change it back before your detox is complete.
3 // Install extensions to your browser to block websites
Search your Extensions in your browser for add-ons that block certain websites.
This will be helpful when your habit of checking social media sites occurs. It will be a quick reminder that you’re on a detox and help you stay on track.
How Long of a Social Media Detox Do You Need to Take?
I honestly believe this one is different for everyone. Sometimes a few days work, and other times an entire month is needed.
The most important thing you need to focus on during this detox is gaining perspective on why you have social media in the first place.
When you reconnect with why you want to be on different social media platforms, you’re able to establish and keep boundaries for each one.
In addition to gaining perspective, you need to focus on living more present because, most of the time, that is the priority for taking a break. You need to see that you can live without social media and how things shift as a result.
Related Post: Smartphone Detox: It’s Time to Simplify Your Life
How to Reintroduce Yourself to Social Media After a Detox
1 // Establish boundaries
By giving yourself boundaries, you are keeping the priority on living more in the present. It becomes more difficult to get swept back into hours wasted due to endless scrolling.
One boundary I established for myself is to only have social media apps on my phone that aren’t functional on my computer. So Instagram is the only social media app on my phone. Facebook and Twitter are both accessed on my computer.
This cut down the time I spend on my phone dramatically! I also feel there is a purpose for when I get onto Facebook or Twitter. The time I spent scrolling feeds is minimal compared to what it used to be.
2 // Create a rewards system
When you have really big goals, it may work in your favor to create a rewards system for accessing social media. For example, when you finish your task list for the day you get X amount of time on social media.
If social media is really important to you, this can be a very productive way to access time to it. It also encourages you not to procrastinate on getting things done.
I go back and forth with this one because, at times, I have it under control, and other times I really want to connect on social media. Being flexible is fine as long as you keep your priorities straight.
3 // Install time blocking apps
There are several apps you can install that limit your time on social media or on your phone in general. This is great if you need help breaking the habit of checking your phone every few minutes.
It also brings attention to how conscious you are or aren’t when using social media apps.
The only one I have experience with is the one Apple installed during an update a few months ago. It helps keep you conscious of the time you’re spending on different apps, but it does not completely block the apps once the time is up. I wouldn’t recommend it specifically, but it has improved my awareness of scrolling.
4 // Don’t take your phone into the bedroom
By now, you are probably aware of the stimulation blue light has on our minds, so bringing the phone into the bedroom needs to become a no-no.
Don’t open yourself up to the temptation of a long night spent on social media instead of getting the sleep you need.
5 // Keep one day a week phone-free
By giving yourself a phone-free day once a week, you are reminding yourself of how important it is to be mindful of the time you spend on social media.
For this day, plan for it to be something outside of your normal routine.
For example, go for a walk in your neighborhood or try a new DIY project. Create memories on your phone-free day that you’re excited about.
Don’t worry about photographing it, either. Just enjoy the day. I promise you’ll have a lot more fun doing this without a phone than with a phone.
6 // Reevaluate who you follow on social media – be picky!
Is the person you want to be who you follow? Are they a reminder of your past? Do they build you up or fill you with sadness?
It is important to remove anyone who isn’t helping you get to where you’re going or doesn’t excite you when they post on social media.
For example, I used to follow a lot of mommy bloggers who posted photos of their children talking all about motherhood. However, I’m not a mom yet, and seeing these posts constantly reminded me of how much I wanted to be a mom. It kept me in a dark place, so I chose to unfollow them.
It wasn’t easy because I did enjoy connecting with them. In the few days after I decluttered all of the mommy bloggers, I found myself happier because I wasn’t consistently reminded of the fact that I’m not a mom yet.
So do you have anyone that brings you down that you’re ready to unfollow or unfriend?
Life after Social Media
I get asked a lot about a social media detox because so many are afraid to unplug. I’m here to put some of those worries to bed.
What does a social media detox feel like?
It is different for each person and each time you do it. However, the general feeling that comes up for me is FREEDOM!
You don’t have to worry about what to post or what other people are doing. The people you connect with on social media can find other ways to connect with you and vice versa.
Each time I do a social media detox, I feel realigned with the person I’m meant to be.
What do I do instead?
Plan your days without it. What activities would you like to do that you haven’t gotten around to yet?
For me, it is reading actual books and exercising. I also enjoy spending the last two hours of the day connecting with my husband about things that mean something to us.
Definitely have a plan because it can be tempting to cheat.
How can I stay connected to people I follow on social media so that I don’t feel tempted to cheat?
The beautiful thing is that you have multiple options for staying connected!
You can exchange email addresses and/or phone numbers. There are apps like Voxer and Skype that you can use.
Just because you’re off of social media doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of options to stay connected.
Get creative and find what works best for you. I promise it will make you miss social media less than you thought was possible.
Now that you know how to successfully take a social media detox, it is time to unplug and experience life outside of social media. It won’t be easy in the first couple of days, but after that, a new world will open up for you. Just wait and see!
If you’re ready for a detox, check out my free Smartphone Detox Guidelines workbook. It will not only help you take a break from social media but also your phone!
If you would like support during your detox, feel free to email me at erin[at]thetannehillhomestead[dot]com. I’d be more than happy to support you as you disconnect!