Do you need a social media break? The answer is likely yes!
Social media has become a huge part of our lives; it practically IS our lives nowadays. It is difficult to not be very involved with it when so many use it to connect with others, get the latest news, and frankly, use it as entertainment.
While there are many pros to social media, it has its flaws as well. It can be a very judgmental and draining place. It can easily be confused with reality, and you can quickly spend your days consumed with what is online rather than right in front of your eyes.
Sometimes we need a break. In fact, as I write this article, I’m on my very own social media break.
If you find yourself addicted to your phone; addicted to swiping for new notifications and news, and not being present in the real world, you should consider a social media cleanse.
Here are some signs that you need a social media break, steps to taking a break, and things to do post-break.
Signs You Need a Social Media Break
1. As soon as you wake up, you check social media.
2. Before you go to bed, you check social media.
3. You feel separation anxiety when not on it.
4. You compare yourself to others and tear yourself down.
5. You spend more time on your phone than you do socializing when out with friends.
6. You are stressed out all the time.
7. Your phone’s battery health is below 50%.
8. Your eyes are so strained that you get headaches or migraines.
9. You’re procrastinating way too much.
10. You know someone’s complete life story and don’t even know them in person or barely know them.
11. You post about your life instead of living in the moment.
12. You go on it to relieve your boredom.
You may have answered yes to several questions above, but still not convinced you need a social media break, I’d encourage you to check your screen time. Before doing so, take a guess as to how long you spend on social media each day.
If you have an iPhone, you can go to Settings, then Screen Time to see the exact number of time you spend on social media.
If you have an Android, you can go to Settings, then Battery, then Battery Usage to check your time.
Or, you can download a third-party app like Moment or Usage Time to track the time spent on your phone.
If the amount of time you are actually spending on social media exceeds what you think, you may want to consider a break.
Steps for Taking a Social Media Break
1. Choose how long you want your social media break to last.
If you are addicted, it can be quite difficult to break away from. I would start off with a one to two-week break and then gradually increase the length of time. You can also do a one week on, one week off style where every other week is a cleanse.
2. Decide which social media platforms and apps are the main culprits.
Most of the problems are typically Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook, but other apps could turn into a problem while on your cleanse. Pinterest might not be a problem currently, but once the cleanse begins, you might gravitate towards Pinterest instead, which could turn into another addiction. Just be mindful of which apps you need a break from, and which apps could be potential problems later on even if they are not social media apps.
3. Decide on when you are going to take the cleanse.
Whether you are taking a break for your mental health or you have more important things to deal with, you should be mindful of when you are taking the cleanse. Good options for timing might be during finals week, hectic work weeks, vacations, etc. These are times where you have other things that need your full attention, or you should be living in the moment to take everything in.
Poor options for timing might be during a long snowstorm, holiday breaks, etc. These are times where you will find yourself being the most bored and most anxious to know what other people are doing.
4. Before signing out of your apps or deleting your apps, make sure you know all of your usernames and passwords.
5. Delete your apps, sign out of them, or set limitations on your phone.
If you have the absolute best self-control ever, you could easily move the apps into a folder on your phone, turn off all notifications, and begin your cleanse. But most of us do not have that kind of self-control. This means that we need to either sign out of all of the apps or just delete the apps completely.
Most social media platforms keep the data associated with the account, so deleting the app will not lose any of the data. (Deleting the app and deleting your account are not the same. Deleting your account will delete all the data associated with it.)
Alternatively, depending on your device, you may be able to set limitations so you do not need to delete your app.
If you have an iPhone, you can access these limitations in your Settings folder, under Screen Time. From there, you can choose exactly which apps you want to limit and for how long. Under this approach, if you click on an app icon that is restricted, you will be prompted to enter your password if you want to continue.
As I am currently using this approach, I found it particularly interesting how many times I’ve accidentally clicked on my social media apps during the time of my social media break. After a few days of doing so, I discovered an easy trick; simply move the apps around on my phone so my social media apps are not easily discoverable.
6. Let your friends and family know you are taking a social media break. (Optional)
It’s up to you if you want to announce that you are taking a break from social media. For me personally, I use social media to stay in touch with my closest friends and family, so I sent them a quite note letting them know of my break, and asking them to call or text me with pictures, updates, and other activities they would normally communicate on social media.
7. Now, go out and live your life.
You now have so much free time to do whatever you want. Go enjoy what the real world has to offer us and soak it all in.
What You Should Do After the Social Media Break
After you take a break, you may either be extremely anxious to return and catch up on all you have missed, or you will feel a sense of relief.
For some, the break could actually make you realize that you do not need social media to be happy and that’s a sign of progress. To continue being mindful about your social media usage, you can take these steps to minimize your usage:
- Track your social media time and set pre-defined limits for how long you will allow yourself to go on social media each day.
- Turn off all notifications so you choose when you want to indulge in social media, rather than it calling to you.
- Delete social media apps from your phone and only visit them from your computer.
Do not feel discouraged if you struggle to take a break from social media. It has become such a huge part of our lives and was designed to be addicting.
It will not be easy for most to take a step back for a while, but it is worth the effort to try. Start off slowly and hopefully you’ll learn to live without relying on it so much.