Social media is a part of most of our daily lives. 77% of Americans use at least one social media channel. 1 In many ways, social media can be positive. It facilitates staying in touch with people from a distance, promotes community building, and makes information more widely accessible. However, when you find yourself spending too much time mindlessly scrolling, or coming away from checking your social media feeling anxious, angry or down, it might be time to take a break.
Why Taking a Break from Social Media is Good for You
Many of us are familiar with the concept of FOMO, or the fear of missing out. FOMO is often talked about in relation to social media, because seeing the curated lives of other people can instill a feeling of not doing enough, or not being successful enough. Research shows that this has a negative impact on mental health, with excessive social media use contributing to feelings of depression and loneliness. 2
Even though scrolling social media may make some people feel worse, it can be hard to stop when you are in the habit of picking up your phone every time you want to take a break. It is easy to start to feel addicted to social media, which is why it is a good idea to occasionally do a social media cleanse where you limit your use of social media for a specified time period. 3
Tips for Your Social Media Cleanse
Following these steps can make it easier to structure and stick to your social media cleanse.
Set a Time When You Can Check Social Media and Stick to it
Completely cutting out social media is not realistic for many people, and research shows that simply reducing the amount of time spent on social media has positive outcomes for mental health. 4 Set specific times during the day when you can go on social media and stick to them. For example, maybe you spend ten minutes at lunchtime and five minutes in the evening checking your social channels and getting updated. Put a timer on so that you stop scrolling when you hit your time limit.
Designate a Phone-Free Area in Your Home
Having an area of your home where you do not bring your phone can also help to reduce your social media use and promote a quiet, peaceful space. Consider making your bedroom a phone-free room, or create a comfortable reading nook in your living room where you do not bring your phone. Having designated no-phone areas will help you get in the habit of being away from your phone sometimes. It will make it easier to focus on other activities that you find calming, such as reading or being fully present with a loved one.
Think of What You’ll Do Instead of Scrolling
If you are used to turning to social media as your main source of entertainment, it is not practical to simply get rid of that and not replace it with something else. Think of other simple activities you can do to entertain yourself instead of checking social media. This could be anything from crossword puzzles or sudoku to crocheting or painting. If you tend to check social media while watching television or talking to people, you may want to choose something that keeps your hands busy, such as a fidget spinner or rubik’s cube. Make a list of activities that you can opt for instead of reaching for your phone when the urge hits.
Connect with People in Person
While social media can be an indispensable tool for keeping in touch with friends and family, it still is not an adequate replacement for face-to-face social interaction. 5 At the beginning of your social media cleanse, you may feel like you are missing out on staying up to date with friends and family. Make an effort to connect with folks in person instead. Meet a friend for coffee, sit down to dinner with your family, or chat with the cashier at the grocery store. Even small social gestures can make you feel significantly more connected.
Will you try a social media cleanse? The above tips are meant to help you make it easier to limit your social media use, but you can structure your social media cleanse any way that works best for you. Whether that is completely cutting out social media for a month or two, set times to check your platforms a few times a day, or anything in between.