social media detox


Take a minute to think about how much information you process every day. If you’re like me and a lot of other people, you get a lot of your news on the Internet, and you also read a lot of blogs. You might also read books and magazines and newspapers. You probably also watch a lot of TV, where you get entertainment and news. You might watch a lot of movies and listen to the radio on your way to work.

At work, you might get memos and emails and a billion other pieces of information coming at you. You might be a part of an online forum, or social site, or newsgroup, or mailing list (or several!).

It’s information overload.

Our brains are not made to process this much information. We can do it, but it gives us a lot of stress, and we cannot think about any of the information long enough for it to give us real value. We are in the middle of a vast river of information, and it just flows by us constantly.

And then there’s all the time we spend on all this media.

Take a minute to think about how much time you spend online (typically a few hours), watching TV (typically a few more hours), and reading all the other stuff mentioned above (another hour or two). Now think about how many goals you could accomplish if you cut those activities out of your life. The time you would gain would be tremendous.

So what do you do about it? Sometimes it’s good to get drastic. Try a media fast. But is it even possible?

Yes, it is. Here are some ideas:

  • If you’re feeling bold, cut out everything for a week. Well, everything that isn’t completely essential — you might need things like email for work, but can you really say that reading your blogs is essential? Is TV essential? Most likely not. Cut it out and see if you can make it a week.
  • Fast for a day. Can’t hack a week? Try one day. Cutting all Internet, TV, radio, and reading (other than fiction) for a day would be pretty drastic for most of us. See if you can last.
  • Fast on specific media, and take turns. Instead of cutting out everything, try cutting out only TV for a week. Then try cutting out newspapers and magazines. Then … if you dare … try cutting out your blogs. Then your favorite websites.
  • When you fast, work on specific goals. Don’t replace one media with another, or with another time-waster. Have a goal that you’d like to accomplish for that day, or week. See if you can use the time you’d normally spend on media to accomplish actions that further your goals.
  • If you’re not sold, track your time. Try logging your time spent on media for one day, without actually cutting back. Add it up in a spreadsheet at the end of the day. See how many minutes you devote to each type of media. It might be an eye-opener.
  • Once your fast is over, re-think your media intake. You may discover that cutting out TV, for example, wasn’t as hard as you thought, and that you were able to get a lot done. Maybe you want to stay off TV for good, or at least cut back on it drastically. Instead of launching right back into your old media habits, use your media more thoughtfully from now on. See if you can live with less, and work on your personal goals more.

Imagine the peace of mind that could come from shutting off the river of information that comes at you daily. Imagine the focus you could find without all the distractions.

Imagine that your life can be changed for the better with this one little edit. It may seem difficult to quit an addition, but don’t you think it might be worth it? At least give it a try.

If you feel like social media has taken over your life, if it preoccupies your mind, or if you find yourself constantly and habitually reaching for your phone, these might be signs that it’s time for a break.

Technology was meant to serve us. We create things, like social media, to make our lives better so we can have more control over the limited amount of time we have every day. But is social media actually improving our lives? Or have we become slaves to our own creation?

How often do you reach for the phone first thing in the morning and check your Twitter notifications? How often when you’re on vacation are you more concerned about taking the perfect Instagram picture than enjoying yourself? How often are you locked in an internet argument on Facebook? A social media detox gives us a bit of clarity into this.

The amount of mental energy we give our phones, specifically social media, could be put to much better use.

Social media, in its inception, was harmless fun. Now, it has evolved to be part of our daily lives. It’s how we consume most of our information, and it influences everything from elections to public discourse.

But social media is not real life. As much influence, or seeming influence, it has, it’s a curated and selective sample of what’s actually going on in the world.

What Is a Social Media Detox?

A social media detox is a conscious elimination of social media use and consumption for a set period of time. Generally, most social media detoxes are 30 days, but some people do 7 days or even a year-long social media detox.

Why Take a Social Media Detox?

If you’re here or you’ve been thinking about taking some time off of social media, you should probably do it, and that should be reason enough.

If you feel like social media has taken over your life, if it preoccupies your mind, or if you find yourself constantly and habitually reaching for your phone, these might be signs that it’s time for a break.

How to Do a Proper Social Media Detox

Tell people

The first step to taking a social media detox is to tell people.

Tell people you interact the most with that you’ll be offline for a while. This will do a few things.

First, it will keep you accountable. If you’re back within a few days Tweeting or posting photos, the people you told will hopefully call you out on it. This will help you stick with the detox.

Secondly, it will let people know you haven’t disappeared if you wind up sticking with it. Most people won’t really care, and some may not even notice (don’t take it personally!).

Delete the apps and block the websites

The next step is to delete the social media apps from your mobile devices, especially your phone. This step is required. I can almost guarantee you that you will not succeed if you keep the apps on your phone during the detox, or you try to rationalize to yourself that you’ll only check them once a week.

For this to work, you’ll need to disconnect completely. If that seems too hard (or even impossible), try a shorter detox.

You may also want to install an app or tool on your computer that can block out social media websites for you.

Plan what you will do during your detox

The last step is to plan what you will do during your detox and actually fill your time with the things you plan to do.

You may wind up surprised at how much time you’ll find during the day that you otherwise would have occupied with your social media habit.

If possible, try to replace your social media habit with something that doesn’t involve technology. I suggest this because using your phone or laptop to replace a digital habit isn’t really productive.

Some suggestions include:

  • Reading
  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Learning something new (language, hobby, skill)
  • Working on a side project or business
  • Exercising, gym, yoga
  • Meditating and practising mindfulness

But if you need to replace your digital habit with a more productive digital habit, here are a few suggestions:

  • Download Kindle on your phone and read books during downtime/boredom instead of looking at social media
  • Listen to podcasts or audiobooks
  • Write
  • Take an online course
  • You can sneak in some bingeing on Netflix.

Benefits of A Social Media Detox

It breaks the social comparison cycle

For example, if everyone you know is getting married and having babies but you’re still single, you may end up feeling isolated and lonely. This can even lead to serious depression for some people. Break away from this unhealthy cycle by taking a break from social media so that you can reconnect with all of the awesome things in your life.

You’ll stop feeling competitive

Even if you aren’t aware of it, social media brings out your competitive side. Each reaction and comment is a measure of how popular a particular post is, which can make you strive to outdo others and even yourself.

This type of competitiveness is not healthy, and it can cause anxiety and depression. Take a mental health break by stepping away from social media for a while!

It’ll improve your overall mood

The amount of time you spend on these sites is directly related to whether or not you feel stressed out or happy.

In other words, if you’ve been feeling highly anxious, stressed out or depressed, this is a good time to take a social media detox. It may feel weird at first, but your overall mood should begin to improve as you stay away from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.

You’ll reconnect with the real world

Sadly, people who spend a lot of time on social media sites report feeling lonely and isolated in real life. They are also more likely to suffer from a weakened immune system.

The good news is that even if you’re an introvert and uncomfortable with a lot of in-person interaction, you can boost your mood by simply going out in public. Take yourself to your favourite park or restaurant if you prefer to be alone. You could even go to a movie or concert.

You’ll stop obsessing over your past

Leaving social media behind for a while can give you the space you need to stop obsessing and actually move on with your life. Make sure that when you do return to social media that you take the extra step of blocking exes or anyone else who it pains you to see online. You can also tweak your Facebook memories to remove certain items so that you stop being reminded of them.

The first step to a successful social media detox is merely trying it. Even if you’re hesitant or unsure if you can do it, try it for a weekend. See how you feel after 2 or 3 consecutive days of being off of social media.

Like how you feel? Try a week and slowly progress to a full month.

About Wuraola

Wuraola Ademola-Shanu is a copywriter, content creator and content strategist who help professionals, consultants and business owners align their stories with their ideal clients, refine their sales funnels and expand their online reputations. She is also a proofreader. You can connect with her via her IG page @thecopywritingchic

Content source: Bellanaija