Do you ever feel like social media has taken over your life? Do you find yourself habitually reaching for your phone when you are bored or find yourself with a spare few minutes? If so, it might be a good time for you to do a social media detox.
What is a Social Media Detox?
A social media detox is much like a physical detox. During a physical detox, you cease your consumption of toxins so that your body can eliminate accumulated waste matter. During a social media detox, you cease your consumption of social media so that your mind can eliminate accumulated clutter.
During your social media detox, you stop all contact with social media apps and websites, ideally by deleting the apps and temporarily disabling your account.
How Long is a Social Media Detox?
Usually, people choose to eliminate their use of social media for a designated period. How long you decide to do your detox for is up to you. Popular detox lengths are between a week and a month, though some people choose to do a full 365-day detox.
What are the Issues with Social Media?
Social media usage takes up a huge chunk of modern life and occupies a large proportion of our thoughts. Surveys have shown social media to be a leading cause of mental health issues, including low mood, anxiety, and even eating disorders. We tend to be heavily influenced by what other people say and do on social media, changing our eating, shopping, political, and lifestyle choices according to what (or who) we are exposed to.
We miss out on real life due to social media. How often have you been so preoccupied with taking the perfect Instagram-worthy photo of your posh brunch that it has gone cold by the time you eat it? Or watched the whole of a gig or concert through the screen of your phone, desperate to share your fantastic experience with your friends and followers?
These things are not easy to admit, but I am sure each of us has succumbed to the pressures of wanting to share something that shows how extraordinary our lives are. Except, therein lies the issue. Social media content is not real life; it is the carefully curated, most interesting snapshots of lives, edited to look much more awe-inspiring than they actually are.
There is a modern blessing that goes: ‘may your life be even half as amazing as you portray it to be on social media.’ To me, that sums up the issue perfectly. With this in mind, here are seven powerful reasons you should do a social media detox.
1: Improve Focus and Concentration
Social media takes up a tremendous amount of thought space and energy. Even when we are seemingly going about our everyday routines, many of us are either planning our next perfect Instagram post, reliving an argument we’ve had on Facebook, or musing over a trending hashtag. Lots of us can scarcely walk down the street without Tweeting about it.
We are so addicted to our online lives, following our favorite influencers, getting sucked into persuasive or emotionally charged news headlines, and checking on our friends’ perfect vacation/successful business/amazing relationship (delete as appropriate).
The thing is, none of these things benefit us in any way at all. They simply clutter up our minds, feed our junk information addictions, and prevent us from taking full advantage of our mental capacity. Filling our minds with social media clouds our judgment and reduces focus and concentration.
By removing social media from our lives, we can use our mental energy for much better things. With so much unnecessary clutter out of the way, focus and concentration will improve.
2: Reduce Anxiety
Headlines, influencer posts, and advertisements are all written to provoke an emotional reaction. This constant jangling of emotions coupled with worry over what others think incite a high level of anxiety for most people. Comparing yourself to other people is not healthy and will always lead to anxiety.
When you consciously choose to ditch social media, you prevent these things from making you feel anxious. You’ll no longer worry about the latest trends or whether people think your life is as exciting as your friends. In reality, it doesn’t matter, but your mental health does. Do a social media detox and improve your mental and emotional wellbeing.
3: Mindfulness of Habits
When you do a social media detox, you will quickly realize how automatic your habits have become. It is truly amazing to notice how often you unconsciously reach for your phone, open your favorite social media app, and start scrolling through your feed.
When you begin your social media detox, you will automatically do this, even though you do not have these apps installed on your phone anymore. I practically guarantee you will react to boredom or a spare two minutes in this way, until a few days have passed, and you get used to the fact that there are no longer any social media apps on your phone.
You may even find yourself typing the social media URL into your browser because you no longer have the app. Hopefully, you will catch yourself and stop before you get sucked into scrolling. The critical thing to realize here is that you are becoming mindful of these habitual reactions, and the experiences that trigger them.
This increased mindfulness is a good thing because it not only shows you how addicted you were, but it also helps you to notice what triggers your habitual social media usage. Additionally, this increased mindfulness will infuse into your daily life.
4: Reclaim Control
Becoming aware that you have formed unconscious habits and addictions will empower you to consciously choose what you do with your time. Awareness, as we know, is the first step to self-control.
Don’t feel bad if you realize that you have developed a social media addiction. Social media is expertly and consciously designed to get you addicted to receiving likes, comments, and notifications. This stimulation provides you with regular little dopamine rushes, ensuring that you come back time after time for more of the same feel-good buzz.
The tech companies that design these systems hire psychology experts to optimize their apps for the maximum amount of instant pleasure so that users stay engaged for as long as possible and keep coming back for more. It’s all about money. The longer you are using the app, the better their engagement figures and the more money advertisers will pay them.
Unfortunately, these highly addictive apps stealthily hijack our habits until we’re no longer in control. By doing a social media detox and becoming more mindful of your habits, you take back your power to choose what, when, and how you engage.
5: Use Your Time More Wisely
You will soon find that you actually have lots of free time when social media is no longer an option. It really is the biggest time suck of the 21st Century. With your new mindfulness around how you spend your time, you can pick some much more productive pastimes.
How about engaging your creativity by painting, sketching, writing poems, or coloring? Or build in a little more exercise to your daily routine. You can do 10-minute HIIT workouts that burn as many calories as a 30-minute run.
Following on the mindfulness theme, you could use your new free time to create a solid meditation habit. If you’re out and about when you have your spare five minutes, try walking meditation. Soften your gaze and become aware of each sound and sensation as you walk. Focus your attention exclusively on the experience of walking. You will become calmer and more focused if you bring more mindfulness into your daily routine.
Participating in a social media detox allows you to step back and assess what is important in your life and how to use your time and mental energy wisely and productively.
6: Start Your Day Right
Start as you mean to go on. How often do you reach for your phone just moments after opening your eyes in the morning? Again, this habitual reaction is part of the addiction, so don’t feel bad if you do this, you have been conditioned to do it. But, scrolling through notifications and reading tragic headlines is not a healthy way to start your day.
What you are exposed to just before and after sleep gets implanted much deeper into your subconscious, and so you should fiercely protect these times. Instead of allowing other people’s drama into your open mind, choose to repeat an affirmation. Affirmations are positive statements that you have consciously chosen, and they benefit you by reprogramming negative thoughts and planting positive seeds into your mind.
If affirmations aren’t your thing, use the time directly after you wake up for meditation, mantras, or even setting your MITs for the day. MIT stands for Most Important Tasks – many successful people set three MITs each morning to achieve that day. It is a way to laser-focus on the things that will help you move closer to your goals and dreams.
Along with protecting your subconscious and boosting your productivity, a social media detox can help you get better sleep. You’ll find the reduction in anxiety, increase in mindfulness, and positivity all help your quality and duration of sleep. And better sleep means a better morning and a better day.
7: Real Connection
Maybe you have read this far and like the sound of a social media detox, but you are worried about maintaining connections with friends and family. Many people feel this way because social media has become one of the primary ways in which we connect with each other.
But what if your time away from social media meant that you actually IMPROVED your connections? How is this possible? Because when you have social media at your disposal, you can send a quick message or emoji to someone rather than picking up the phone and calling them. Although we feel like we’re better connected to our social circle than ever before, the quality of our connections has dramatically decreased.
Instead of relying on Facebook to tell you when your friend’s birthdays roll around, write them down in your diary. Then, actually CALL them to wish them many happy returns. Your phone call will mean so much to them, trust me. The same goes for making plans. Sure, you can text, but talking on the phone is so much more personal.
Something else that a social media detox can help you rediscover is the lost art of letter writing. There is something so special about receiving a handwritten letter on a piece of paper. It is rare these days to receive a nice letter in the post, one that isn’t a demand for money or an advert trying to sell you something. Give this gift to your friends with whom you usually use social media to interact. They will feel so blessed, and you might even get a handwritten letter in return!
How to Do a Social Media Detox
Now you know the most powerful reasons to do a social media detox, what steps should you take to ensure success? Well, it’s surprisingly easy once you get over your initial resistance.
The first thing you should do is let people know that you are coming off social media and the length of time you plan on being absent. This is just so that they don’t worry about you. It’s also a good idea to let important contacts know the alternative ways they can reach you, if, for example, they do not have your email address or telephone number.
The second thing you should do is temporarily suspend the accounts that allow you to do so and delete all the social media apps from your phone. There are also productivity apps that block specific apps and sites, and ones that can tell you exactly how much time you spend on each app. Check out the many options for IOS, Mac, Android, and Windows.
Lastly, you might find it easier if you have planned things to do during your downtime. Use any of the suggestions mentioned above, such as creativity, exercise, and meditation. If you want to increase your productivity, make a list of tasks that take small amounts of time to complete. You could have a one-minute task list, and lists for three, five, ten, and twenty-minute tasks.
This activity is particularly useful if you have a blog, run a business, are a writer, or other type of content creator. I have a list of short writing tasks I can perform, such as researching topics and keywords, writing short scenes, and adding character details.
A social media detox might sound radical at first, but there are so many benefits that I encourage everyone to give it a try. You might find that you prefer writing letters, meditating, and being more creative and productive than the mindless scrolling and constant bombardment of social media.
We are here to support your spiritual journey, so if you have any questions, please share them in the comments below or connect with us in our Sacred Circle forum. Not while on your social media detox, though! Come in afterward and tell us how it went, we’d love to hear your experiences.