More and more studies are showing how social media can make us feel terrible. It can isolate us, make us feel lonely, and it can lead to depression.1
It makes sense.
People post their best lives. We see that and think everyone else has it so much better than we do. Even though we know people aren’t going to post the bad parts of life. And then other people only post the bad parts of life, but it’s not like that makes us feel better.
It’s all ultimately gossip and it has the same effect on us as the news.
That’s why social media breaks are getting so popular.
And while I’m not a fan of making a long post about why you’re leaving social media or taking a break, I do think it’s good to disconnect, whether indefinitely or temporarily.
I’ve compiled some ideas to help with that. There are different levels, of course. Taking a week off is much easier than deleting your social media account entirely, so I’ve organized these into different levels of difficulty, from easiest to hardest…
1. Easiest: Be Intentional
The easiest way to make sure social media is serving you, and not harming you, is to be intentional with who you follow and what you see.
Start unfollowing people who post things you don’t want to see.
Ask yourself how you feel about each post you see for a month or so, and use that to determine whether the person is improving your life or adding to your stress. If it’s the latter, unfollow.
- Follow those who add value to your life: positive stories, motivation, growth, etc.
- Unfollow those who don’t: negative stories, stressful news, selfish boasting, drama, etc.
Don’t forget social media isn’t just about consuming. If you’re going to be there, contribute to the platform. Create, create! Don’t just feed off of others. Create your own content. Whatever that means for you.
Take a personal stand to only comment positively, that means not commenting on things you don’t agree with – this is always best done in person anyway. I love to have religious and political conversations and debates, but social media isn’t the best place to do that unless you’re a fan of anxiety. Save those conversations for when you can actually talk face-to-face.
If you need to do more than merely be intentional, try the next step…
2. Easy: Limit Yourself
To take it a step further, you can start limiting your time on social media.
Set a time limit and stick to it, though even just a few minutes can negatively impact your mood so this one alone won’t always make it better. That’s why you need to be intentional first and then set limits.
When I set limits, it’s usually 15 minutes a day and then I go down to 5 minutes a day until I take a break entirely. You can set this up in your phone’s settings or you can just hold yourself accountable.
You made still need to go a step further…
3. Hard: Delete the Apps
If you still feel like social media isn’t improving your life, you can go the extra mile by deleting the apps on your phone.
You don’t have to freeze any accounts or delete your profile. You don’t even have to remove the messenger apps, but get rid of any social media scrolling apps.
This will seriously reduce the time you spend on social media. It takes away the five minutes here and there when you’re standing in public and feel awkward not staring at your phone. Find something else to look at.
If you still decide to use social media on your phone, having to use an internet browser will make you less likely to use social media in general (the websites are designed to work better in the apps and to discourage you from using the sites on an internet browser), but if you find yourself getting right back to where you were, consider the following…
4. Harder: Take a Break
Taking a day off is easy. Taking a week off is harder.
What about a month? Or six?
This is completely your decision, but taking an extended break from social media may just show you how much you don’t need it.
Look around and enjoy the things in life. See how beautiful life is when you’re not always looking at your phone.
I’ve never heard of someone taking a break and complaining about it. Everyone I know says they were happier without it. Granted, it’s an addiction so it isn’t easy to take a break. That’s why I’d start with one day.
And of course, you can always choose the most extreme route…
5. Hardest: Delete Your Account(s)
The idea of deleting social media accounts is scary to me. It’s not because I “need” my social media or I “must” scroll on. It’s because I’m in the military so I have friends all over the world who I only keep up with through social media.
That being said, there are other ways to stay in touch. You can always get phone numbers or email addresses (email is better because it typically changes less often when people move).
I still have a Facebook account, which is where I keep up with everyone. My other social media accounts are all for business. Since I don’t think I spend too much time on Facebook, I just keep it. But if I ever felt like it was taking too much of my life or bringing me down emotionally, I would delete it (after getting everyone’s contact info).
You can ease into this one by deleting the account you use the least first. Keep the ones that keep you in contact with your extended family and friends and remove the rest.
This is customizable. For example, if your biggest concern is losing contact with friends and family, you can deactivate your Facebook account and your messenger will keep working. It won’t reactivate your account by using it.
The bottom line, the less social media you have in your life, the more actual life you’ll have in your life.
Further Book Reading
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
- Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier
Finally, Happify created a pretty awesome infographic explaining how you can stay happy on social media. I’ll leave you with that…
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- Mammoser, G. (2018, December 9). The FOMO Is Real: How Social Media Increases Depression and Loneliness. Healthline.
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