Eyes Up, Phones Down
Recently, many people have probably been receiving phone alerts that their screen time is much higher than average. Thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the time you would usually use getting ready and commuting is now easily replaced with scrolling through social media newsfeeds. Social media can be a great way to stay connected to family, friends, and coworkers. But it can also be healthy to take a break. Who doesn’t love a good detox?
Digital Detox Benefits
Social media detoxes (sometimes called digital detoxes) have been popular for a few years now. Here are a few of the benefits of doing one.
It breaks the FOMO cycle– Watching others’ well-curated lives on social media may plant seeds of envy and resentment. While many people joke about ‘FOMO’, the fear of missing out can be anxiety inducing. Scrolling through your newsfeed, it is only natural to compare your life to the ones you are seeing. Viewing yourself, your activities, and your relationships through the distorted lens of comparison can be a great weight on your mental health.
You stop depending on virtual likes– Another anxiety-inducing byproduct of social media is the search for external validation. Have you ever posted a photo or status and only gotten one or two likes? That pang of disappointment can trick you into thinking that you don’t have the approval or admiration of others. In reality, it’s probably just time of posting, algorithms, or some other technical explanation.
You get a break from stress-inducing newsfeeds– A decade ago, social media was mainly a source of chatting with friends, listening to music, and sharing photos. With the added additions of news articles, memes, and digital ads, newsfeeds can easily get overwhelming and add to the stress of your everyday life.
It refreshes your mind, body, and spirit– Taking a break from social media gives your mind and body a chance to reset. A digital detox frees up time to exercise and get some fresh air outside, both of which have positive effects on your mood, and will help uplift your spirits.
Tips for a Social Media Detox
Social media detoxing doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to close all of your accounts and toss your phone into the bottom of the ocean like Titanic. Like physical detoxes, there are many different options and there is sure to be one to fit your lifestyle. Here are some options for starting a social media detox:
- Temporarily disable or delete all social media apps– While temporarily disabling your accounts is an option, it can be helpful just to delete your apps for a short period of time. Many people post a status letting their acquaintances know that they are taking a break and will be back soon. This has become so common that your friends are likely to be supportive and understanding.
- Limit the number of accounts you check– Another option is limiting which apps you engage in. For example, if you normally spend the day swapping between multiple social media sites, you might choose to only access the one with the most important and meaningful connections.
- Schedule time for checking social media– After a detox, people often report feeling an abundance of time and energy, and fitting social media back into your life doesn’t need to take these benefits away. Consider setting a time limit for yourself when browsing social media. You can also feel more in control of the balance in your lifestyle by setting parameters, such as “if I spend 30 minutes outside, I can spend 30 minutes on social media.”
- Create long-term rules for social media use– You can extend the benefits of the detox long-term by forming healthy digital habits. Creating doable rules for yourself is an easy option, though there are many guidelines and detox challenges online. You can turn off your cellular data when you’re out or turn off all push notifications for your accounts.
- Keep your screens out of certain living areas– In order to give your relationships and brain time to breathe, it’s a good idea to keep your phone out of certain areas of your home, such as your bedroom and the dinner table. Reserve mealtimes for catching up with your family and friends without the constant distraction of what other people may be doing. Meanwhile, multiple studies, including a recent study by the University of Toronto, have proven that blue light suppresses melatonin production, which helps you sleep. So, when you start thinking about bed, log off social media, and leave your phone charging in a room that isn’t your bedroom. You’ll fall asleep faster and be far more rested for the day ahead if you do.
- Snooze social groups for a month– Did you know that you can turn off notifications from social media groups for 30 days? If comment fights are starting to clog up your notifications, it might not be a bad idea to try it, especially if you don’t interact with the groups that often. And, after 30 days, you can decide if you want to leave the group, rejoin, or keep it on snooze for another month.
Give Yourself a Rest
Social media detoxes can be as long or as short as you’d like. Some people feel empowered with 30 day detoxes while others are satisfied with 24 hours. Any amount of time that you are comfortable with is absolutely fine. The point of this cleanse is to be kind to yourself, renew your energy, and enlighten your mood. In these times where feelings of isolation and loneliness may come easily, it is important to always be able to reach out to friends or family if you need to.
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