Do you try to reach out for your phone to check the notifications as soon as you wake up? When you go out for a vacation, are you more concerned about capturing that one perfect picture for Instagram than enjoying it? Do you check your phone just before you are off to sleep? If your answer to these questions is Yes, Social Media Detoxification is something you should probably consider.
Social Media Detoxification is about taking some time off and refraining from using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Youtube, etc. You must have heard “Offline is a new luxury,” which implies that one should spend less time aimlessly scrolling through the feed of their social media accounts and more time on living.
Initially, social media intended to help people stay connected with their geographically dispersed friends and relatives, communicate with like-minded people or similar interests. It is a medium for self-expression, or to satisfy our curiosity. Studies have revealed that, on average, users tend to spend over 4 hours per day and over five years in their lifetime on social media.
It has certain corrosive qualities like- creates an artificial need to be available 24/7, may push you to go to extremes to chase the highest number of likes. Excessive use of social media can lead to addiction and cause a feeling of envy, which turns friendship into rivalry, and grudges and makes us feel dissatisfied with ourselves and others. It also decreases productivity, reduces sleep quality, strains eyes & causes vision problems, and migraine headaches. Social Media Detox demands turning off notifications, unfollowing people who disturb your peace, leaving uninspiring groups, uninstalling apps, minimizing per day usage, un-tagging unwanted photos, and remind yourself that social media is not reality.
Signals that you might need a Social Media Detox-
- You feel anxious if you are unable to find your phone.
- Your subconscious mind is preoccupied with the count of likes/comments on your posts.
- You experience FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) if you do not keep checking your device.
- You feel envy, depressed, or angry after spending time on social media.
- You often stay up late or get up early to play on your phone.
- You face trouble concentrating on one thing without having to check your phone.
Benefits of a Social Media Detox-
Social Media set out to connect people, have slowly started to tear those people apart. It keeps you glued to the screen and makes your brain addicted. Just like detoxification of your body flushes out the toxins, Social media detox flushes out your negative emotions, goals. There is a recent trend of people consciously reducing their social media use because of the following benefits:
- Clears your mind-
Social Media Detox offers you a chance to clear your mind by removing the informational junk, which takes a toll on our tranquility and emotional well-being. Taking a break from social media gives you a chance to take a step back and re-evaluate what is of prime importance in your life and how you can better use your time and mental space.
- More free time at your disposal-
Do you lack enough time to exercise, pursue your hobby, or clean your house? Pausing social media will help you gain almost 2-3 hours daily, which you can utilize towards improving your life. You can spend more time in person with people you care about than staying virtually-connected.
- Less anxiety-
When you get rid of your mental clutter, you no longer fall prey to the worry of what makes the headlines, feeds, or trends on social media. With enough time, you will feel more positive since social media tends to exhaust our minds and make us disillusioned. It will lower your anxiety significantly over a period.
- Conquer your fear of missing out (FOMO)-
One thing that stops us from social media detox is, ‘how will I know what is going on?’ Constant connectivity pops out the naturally ingrained fear of missing out on the experiences that others are having. Notifications make it even harder to stay away from constantly checking your phone out of fear that you are going to miss a relevant text or post. Detoxing is one way to set limits and reduce your fear of missing out.
- Better sleep and refreshed mornings-
Immersing yourself in social media before bedtime causes insomnia and affects the quality of your sleep. Devoting less time on social media means more of everything else and improves your sleep, which in-turn energizes you. When you choose to avoid such distractions of opening a social media app after waking up, you get time to act on reading news and practice morning meditation instead of scrolling the feed.
- Breaks the social comparison cycle-
We struggle with insecurity because we tend to compare our real life with other’s selectively curated life we see on social media and question our accomplishments, self-esteem, appearance, and even personality traits. Comparison and self-doubt are a thief of joy and make you believe that your life is less exciting than theirs, it becomes hard to be content, and our happiness takes a nosedive. E.g., if your peer’s work requires them to travel to various countries, but your job does not offer such an opportunity, you might feel job dissatisfaction. Our emotional responses to such posts can be strong enough to overpower our sense of logic completely. Knock off this unhealthy cycle to reconnect with the awesome things in your life.
- Respect your privacy-
Whatever you do need not be seen or heard. Social media requires us to give up a lot of our privacy. You give access to your photos, contacts, location to these apps. Detoxing includes deleting these apps to facilitate you with privacy protection.
- More mindfulness-
When you push yourself away from social media for a while, you will notice how mindful you become as your device usage will start bothering you. You will realize how much precious time it took away from your life, and you will no longer be a zombie scrolling through feeds and moving from one app to another.
- Stops competition-
Reactions and comments measure how popular a post is, which can make you strive to outdo others. Such competitiveness is not healthy and can cause anxiety and depression. Withdraw from such competitiveness and attain peace of mind.
- Improve your overall mood-
If you feel anxious, stressed out, or depressed, this is the right time to take a social media detox. It might feel weird, but your overall mood begins to improve as you stay away from these sites.
- Reconnect with offline social interactions-
Have you noticed yourself connecting well with others online but find it challenging to develop a connection in person? People spending too much time on social media sites feel lonely and isolated in real life. In a world of hashtags and followers, understand the real importance of human connection, and don’t let social media pull us away from face-to-face interactions. Detoxing gives you a chance to meet, interact, and make yourselves comfortable to connect in real life.
- Live in the moment-
Do you post every activity you do or every event happening in your life on social media? Some people live their life through the lens of social media without directly interacting with it. E.g., People posting pictures on the same day of their marriage, which takes you out of the moment, does not let you enjoy it and makes your experiences less memorable. Detoxing helps you to be there in the moment and appreciate it.
- Better work-life balance–
Constant connectivity makes it difficult to create boundaries between your personal and work life. Even at home or on vacation, it tempts you to check your email, respond to a text from a colleague, or check in on your social media accounts. The use of these apps can create a feeling of being overburdened with work. Unplugging social media may help you establish a better work-life balance.
Steps to Unhook from Social Media and Connect with Life Again
Social Media detox need not be permanent. It should be long enough to rewire your brain and take you out of this endless cycle.
Inform your closed ones that you are on a detox, and you will be offline for a while. Ask for their support to call out if you are back within a few days and help you stick to it.
Identify most-used apps-
Download an app that helps you break down how much screen time you are spending on specific apps.
Set time limits on your apps.
If you face difficulty in unplugging completely, despite it hampering your productivity, consider an app to set up blocks of time and enable a Locked Mode, which would not allow you to access or cancel those limits.
Delete the apps and block the websites-
Deactivate your accounts or uninstall social media apps from your phone, as keeping them would hinder your success because notifications play a crucial role in addiction. Restrict access to social media websites on your laptops/ computers. If you are still struggling, ask a trusted family member/ friend to change the passwords of your accounts, and share them with you after your detox.
Plan your detox period-
Find ways to stay distracted during your detox to fill that void of extra time in hand; otherwise, you will claw your way back. Try to replace this habit with some non-technology habits like reading, spending time with loved ones, learning something new (language, hobby, skill), writing, exercising, practicing yoga & meditation, travel. Try to go out with friends or go for a walk when you are enticed to use your device.
Give your phone a bedtime-
Make a schedule that after 9 pm, your phone goes into its charging station preferably out of your arm’s reach. The less access you have, the less likely you are to explore social media.
Get an alarm clock-
Put an end to using your phone as your alarm clock. Start your day with a focus on intention (What do you want to accomplish?) while should end it with reflection (How did today go? How can tomorrow be better?). When your phone is in your hands as you wake up, you are likely to go straight to scrolling.
You can also reward yourself for getting the focused work done. E.g., work for 1 hour with focus and get 5 minutes of online stuff as a reward. Be sure not to take your bonus without doing the work first.
Life can be ugly and depressing at times, but none would want their social media accounts to reflect this aspect. What we see is crafted and selected. So, do not allow this selective expression to take away your life satisfaction. Whenever you feel virtually oversaturated, follow Social Media Detox to lead a calmer and simpler life. Life happens between social media scrolls and your self-doubt. So, post less, do more, compare less, reflect more, discuss less, accomplish more. Let us pause temporarily and go for a reality check.
Are you ready to take the much-needed break to be alone with your thoughts and loved ones to rejuvenate? Are you prepared to unplug to unwind?