How to Take a Social Media Break in 15 Steps

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How to Take a Social Media Break in 15 Steps

How to Take a Social Media Break in 15 Steps

Goodbye Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
How to Take a Social Media Break in 15 Steps

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Time spent scrolling on social media flies by. Minutes turn into hours, and soon enough, you glance up at the time and wonder where it all went. This time warp can lead to an unhealthy relationship with social media. Enter the social media detox. 

According to Dr. Michele Kerulis, an associate professor with the Family Institute at Northwestern University, “a social media detox provides a psychological and a physiological rest and reset.” It can be a time to eliminate distractions and focus on what’s most important. Here are 15 steps to take to complete your own social media detox.

Look out for warning signs

Look out for warning signs

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How do you know if it’s time for a social media detox? Do you prioritize social media over other responsibilities, check your apps first thing in the morning, feel uncomfortable or upset online, consume mostly negative news or give in to groupthink or bullying? According to Kerulis, all these are signs to step away from your social accounts. Plus, she said, “if other people are telling you you need a break from social media, that’s a big clue too.”

Make a decision

Make a decision

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Once you acknowledge that you need a break from social media, commit to giving yourself that break. Stop speaking in hypotheticals and decide once and for all to take the time you need away from social media.  

Start small

Start small

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Before starting your social media detox, it’s time to set goals. “For some people, eliminating [social media] for 24 hours can be helpful. Other people might decide that they want to go for a week or for a month,” Kerulis said. For individuals who are more closely tied to their social accounts, Kerulis recommends starting small. “See how your emotions and overall outlook might improve with [a] small step,” she said. Then, take a bigger one.

Let your friends and family know

Let your friends and family know

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Before deleting your social accounts and disappearing off your favorite apps, take a moment to let your friends and family know you will be stepping away for a while. “Sometimes if we don’t see somebody posting, we might get worried and wonder where they are,” Kerulis said. So either post a short-term farewell message on your social account or inform friends and family directly.

Delete the app

Delete the app

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With everyone informed of the action you are about to take, it is time to delete your social media apps. Channel all your courage and press delete. Do not redownload from the app store. Delete and don’t look back.

Find other areas to explore

Find other areas to explore

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Now for the fun part. There’s a treasure trove of interesting hobbies and impressive skills you can learn during all your newfound free time. Find something new and nontechnical to spend your time doing or return to a childhood hobby.

Reconnect with nature

Reconnect with nature

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During your detox, it is also important to reconnect with nature. Sunlight has been found to improve people's moods. So, go for a walk. Look at the trees, the flowers and all the other foliage. Even during the winter, you should bundle up and get outside — it’s one way to combat seasonal affective disorder.

Talk to a counselor

Talk to a counselor

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Another productive way to spend time away from social media is to talk to a counselor. Find a counselor or therapist who is right for you and begin to work through whatever host of emotions or situations you feel comfortable disclosing. Talk about your relationship with social media and the goals you have set for yourself. Together, you and your counselor can review future goals and next steps.

Connect with people IRL or virtually

Connect with people IRL or virtually

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A social media detox does not mean social isolation. You can continue to connect with others over video call or phone call or at a safe distance.

If using social media for work, only use it for work

If using social media for work, only use it for work

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Set healthy boundaries if your job requires you to work with the social media sites and apps you are avoiding. “Make sure you are doing what is expected of you for work, but don’t let that leak into your personal life and your personal digital space,” Kerulis said.

Talk to others about your detox

Talk to others about your detox

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Keep your family and friends up-to-date on your social media detox. Let them know how you have been feeling and what you have been thinking about during this time of reflection. Talk to them about what you have been up to during your detox and challenge them to think about their social media habits as well.

Re-enter slowly

Re-enter slowly

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Whenever you decide to re-enter the social media world, go one app at a time. Allow yourself access to just one of your social accounts and not the rest. Learn to responsibly use the one app before adding another.

Set time limits

Set time limits

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Another way to be a responsible social media user is to give yourself a time limit. “Fifteen minutes a day total or 30 minutes a day total,” Kerulis said. “Stick to that goal.” All it takes to set up a time limit on your smartphone is a small settings switch. You can also download apps to help limit your screen time.

Celebrate small victories

Celebrate small victories

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According to Kerulis, part of the reason time limits are effective is because they not only limit your time online, but also prove your ability to successfully achieve self-set goals. Every accomplished goal is a boost to your self-confidence. Celebrate these small victories that add up to big wins.

Search out positive stories

Search out positive stories

 

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Start seeking out positive stories to balance the negative news you may see on your social feed. “By searching for positive posts and pages, you are creating a new habit of allowing social media to have a good place in your life and not be a burden,” Kerulis said. Find corners of your favorite apps that are light and positive. You can start by reading through our roundup of 2020’s top good news stories.

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