Social media has taken over much of our everyday lives, whether we’re mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, watching a YouTube video that popped up on our recommended list, or simply feeling the urge to check the latest Facebook notifications. While social media offers many positive benefits, like business opportunities, networking, and the ability to instantly connect with friends and family, it can also turn into a slippery slope when it comes to your mental health and productivity.
Too much time spent on social media can prevent you from focusing on your personal relationships, career, and even the goals that you have. If you find yourself constantly checking your latest notifications, or reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, it may be time to try a social media cleanse.
Social Media Detox Tips
There’s a scientific reason behind unhealthy social media habits. The time we spend online affects the dopamine system in our brains. This is the reward system that is stimulated when you check a new message or hear a ding that signals an update on your phone. These unpredictable stimuli give you short-term pleasure, keeping you hooked and wanting to check back to see what’s new throughout the day.
Ten tips to start your social media detox:
1. Give your digital devices a bedtime.
It sounds a bit strange, but your phone may need a bedtime, too! Late-night activity on your phone or computer can affect your sleeping patterns due to blue light, keeping you awake. It can also take up valuable time that may be better spent relaxing with friends, family, or your partner.
Set a time that you can commit to put your phone or devices away, at least one hour before going to bed, and even enlist a family member or someone in your household to hold you accountable. This can be an opportunity to stay more present, find time to catch up on your reading, or maybe even get to sleep at an earlier hour.
2. Start a new morning habit.
Try avoiding technology during your morning routine by using a real alarm clock instead of the one on your phone, helping you resist the urge to start scrolling as soon as you wake up.
Make the first moments of your day positive by adopting a morning ritual that doesn’t include social media and work. This could be watching the sunrise outside your window, getting in an early walk or stretch, or enjoying your cup of tea or coffee while simply observing your thoughts and surroundings.
3. Delete your social media apps.
It can be daunting to give up social media cold turkey, but you can try it on a smaller level by deleting the main apps that you use on your phone. You may not notice that every time you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy or need a break from work, you pick up your phone and start scrolling through social media. By deleting the apps from your phone temporarily, you’ll realize how often you’re going to your phone for a distraction. Deleting social media apps can help you break this cycle.
4. Replace social media time with a new hobby or activity.
Social media can drain your energy and take up a lot of your spare time. The average Internet user spends about two hours and 24 minutes per day on social media alone. Just think of the new hobbies and pursuits you could take up in that “extra” time each day!
Try taking part in an activity that engages your mind and your senses, such as learning to play the guitar or gardening outdoors. These activities are especially helpful for those who spend hours inside sitting at a desk in front of a computer.
5. Break the habit of reaching for your phone.
If you find yourself reaching for your phone on a consistent basis, you may have a dependency on it. This is a compulsive behavior that often stems from anxiety that you will miss something new.
Breaking any bad habit can be tough, but start small. Put your phone in another room when you are working, or set it aside when eating a meal or hanging out with friends. If you need to have your phone by you for work or personal reasons, try turning off notifications or using the grayscale setting, making the screen less colorful and desirable to look at. The flashy colors and imagery are often what attract people to scroll through Instagram or Facebook, and the grayscale setting can combat that.
6. Use technology for reasons other than scrolling social media.
A media and technology detox in general can be great for the soul, but there are some nights when you may want to decompress with entertainment that’s still some form of technology. Using a Kindle can change the way you use technology to make it a learning experience, or downloading games like charades to play when spending time with friends can turn your media consumption into an interactive experience.
Consuming media and technology in ways other than spending time on social media can transform the way you view relaxation time, and help you find more balance in your overall routine.
7. Pay attention to the media you consume.
Stay clear of social media content that leaves you feeling negative or depleted of energy. This could mean unfollowing people or pages that don’t make you feel your best, and instead making more of an effort to consume content that is uplifting and inspirational.
8. Spend more time observing the world around you.
Spend more time appreciating your surroundings by enjoying outdoor hikes, or taking the time to sit in a local park and observe activity. You may find yourself appreciating the beauty in the world around you rather than watching it all happen on a curated picture or video on your screen.
9. Make yourself reminders to not check social media.
A planner or checklist can be helpful for completing daily tasks, and the same goes for reminding yourself not to check social media! Add a sticky note on your desk or mirror to remind yourself of the commitment you’ve made. You can also take advantage of settings on your phone that set a time limit for your social media use and let you know when your time is adding up.
Your lock screen is the first thing that catches your eye when you turn on your phone, so it’s a good spot to add a reminder of your detox as you check your latest messages. Try adding an inspirational quote or a productivity reminder to keep your focus in check if you find yourself on your phone for longer than expected.
10. Track your progress.
An iPhone or Android will generally track the time you spend on social media and often give monthly reports on the hours you spend on each app. Check these statistics after 30 days of implementing your detox, and recognize the progress you’ve made! This can help motivate you to continue working toward breaking social media addiction one step at a time.
Benefits of taking a break from social media
By limiting or detoxing yourself from the effects of social media, you may find yourself with a clearer mind and renewed energy to tackle what matters most to you. The time we spend glued to our phones or computers can distort our perceptions of reality.
By focusing more on what’s in front of you, you can live more mindfully and free of the anxiety that often occurs when you feel out of the loop. By approaching your cleanse with a mind-set of moderation, you can build a healthier relationship with social media that frees you from the need to check in online throughout the day.
When should you return to social media?
Going cold turkey to quit social media may potentially backfire, and the same goes for returning to it – the progress you made to wean yourself off social media took time to achieve! Be mindful of your needs and allow yourself to return to social media in moderation. You know yourself better than anyone, so you can best evaluate when you may be overdoing it on social media and when it may be time to implement another detox to get yourself back on track.
Growth is a bio-individual process.
Bio-individuality, the IIN core concept that you require a unique health plan to experience optimal well-being and growth, goes beyond just the foods you eat. It also applies to finding the environment and routines that allow you to thrive and be your happiest, healthiest self.
If you need a night to decompress, don’t feel guilty about turning on Netflix or scrolling through your newsfeed. Holistic health is all about moderation, and creating a healthier relationship around your social media – which could include using social media moderately and not constantly – will help you learn how to be more in control of your choices in the future.
Learn more about bio-individuality and IIN’s other core concepts to help you lead a holistically healthy life by downloading our Curriculum Guide today.
IIN Content Writer
Rebecca holds a bachelor’s in English with a focus in public relations and has a writing background in retail and entertainment advertising. Her love for all things health and wellness led her to IIN.
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