We all could use a good social media detox in our lives, but that’s hard to do when social media predominates much of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with social media itself, per se, and it’s brought a lot of people together—especially during the pandemic—but we don’t always use it in a healthy way. There have been links to heavy social media use and increased rates of mental health issues, which is just another reminder to tune out every now and then.
While taking a social media detox is easier said than done, it is possible—and you don’t have to cut social media completely out of your life to do so, either. By following some of the steps below, you can still enjoy connecting with people online, take breaks, and spend time doing other things that bring you joy.
1. Set a Timer
Setting a timer for how long you can be on social media is a great way to take baby steps in reducing your time spent on each platform. There are some apps that allow you to set timers for how long you want to spend on social media; some of them also track how often you use it, which is another great way to monitor your social media use.
2. Log out of the Apps
A huge step that’s helped me maintain my social media detox is logging out of my social media applications on both my phone and laptop. This way, even when I am tempted to log in, I have to retrieve my password, which gives me some extra time to consider “Do I really want to go on social media, or am I doing this just out of boredom?” For me, social media is just something I automatically check without really thinking about what I’m doing, so logging out of my apps has been a great way to curb that habit and make me really consider if what I’m doing is healthy or compulsive.
3. Delete the Apps
I have deleted my social media apps on my phone, especially the ones I use the most frequently. You can delete all your apps off your phone for some time, some apps, a mix of both, or whatever works best for you. This is a great way to ensure you have an effective social media detox, and it’s super easy—it only takes a couple of steps to delete apps off your phone.
4. Only Log In on the Weekends
I started reserving Fridays and weekends to end my social media detox. I tell myself that I can binge scroll for however long I want—when the week rolls around, I’ll have to wait again before I can engage in mindless social media binging. This is a great way to curb your social media habits if you still want to use them, and it helps you realize that much of the fear of missing out you had isn’t as important as you initially thought. Plus, if you’re like me, building up the anticipation to check what you missed on social media can build up excitement when you log back in.
5. Use Social Media Mindfully
This is the most important point of all. Once I confronted other problems I had on social media—doomscrolling, comparing myself negatively to others, etc.—I realized most of the time, I was on social media “just because.” I wasn’t being mindful of my use at all. Now, I make an effort to pay attention to what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, and just being present in the moment when I am on social media. It’s a skill you have to practice, but more often than not you will find yourself feeling more relaxed and at peace with yourself when you do it.
Like everything else in life, we will be happier and healthier if we use social media moderately. That might mean that we have to give ourselves a social media detox every now and then. As humans, we often go to extremes with things in life and don’t do this, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. More often than not, moderate usage of social media—and everything in life—helps you feel more fulfilled and fully present in the life that you’re living, with all of its aspects and beauty.
Fairley Lloyd (she/her) is a writer, editor, and bi-con. She writes about race, LGBTQIA+, mental health, and intersectionality.
I love the idea of setting a timer. I get lost in social media sometimes 😉