Over the summer, I decided it was finally time. I was taking a 30-day social media detox. No more excuses. It was a necessity for my mental health and overall well-being.
I've always had a love/hate relationship with social media. Over time, I found myself constantly opening up my Instagram app despite feeling anxious and depressed while using it.
How could this little app turn into such a black hole? Once I was in, it was hard to crawl back out and stay out.
Why is Social Media So Addicting?
Social media platforms are designed to be addictive. The creators of these platforms are constantly researching the psychology of addictive behaviors and then emulating them into their apps to keep us hooked.
Here are a couple reasons why we can't escape the black hole of social media.
When you post a photo or story and people comment and 'like' it. It instantly validates you and makes you feel good. But you never feel truly satisfied (hence why you keep going back for more).
When you log in to social media, dopamine signals in your brain increase. Since dopamine is associated with pleasure, the brain identifies this action as one that should be repeated over and over.
Once the dopamine wears off, you want more, so you get back on social media for another hit, and the vicious cycle begins (even if it's having a negative impact on you).
How to Know When You Need a Social Media Detox
- You reach for your phone first thing when you wake up.
- You can't fall asleep, so you end the day mindlessly scrolling, hoping you'll get tired.
- You're watching a show and you suddenly realize you're on social media while the show is playing in the background.
- You take your phone with you everywhere. And yes, that includes the bathroom.
- You feel like you don't have enough time throughout the day to get things done.
- You struggle with anxiety or depression.
- You're out with friends or family, but you're still constantly on your phone.
- You have a hard time focusing and holding your attention on one thing.
- You feel impatient, often.
In 2019, Americans checked their phone 96 times per DAY (or once every 10 minutes). Isn't that nauseating?
What Exactly is a Social Media Detox?
A social media detox is a conscious decision to eliminate all forms of social media from your life for a set period of time. Social media detoxes are generally done over a 30-day period, but some people also choose 7-days, 6 months, or even one year.
This also means deleting the apps from your phone (and other devices), turning off all notifications, and blocking them on your computer using tools like Cold Turkey or Freedom.
It's easy to habitually go to these apps without even realizing we're doing it in the first place, so going that extra step is helpful in completing a successful 30-day social media detox.
If you find yourself constantly picking up your phone out of habit, you may want to think about changing your lock screen to something more functional. It's free, and you can do that by clicking here.
The Downsides of Social Media
Social media isn’t all negative. It can serve a few purposes, but the way our society is using it isn't healthy. Unfortunately, there are quite a few downsides to it.
Some of them include:
- Low self-esteem/self-confidence
- Comparison trap
- Anxiety & depression
- Fear of missing out (also called FOMO)
- Disrupted sleep patterns - especially when using it before bed
- Unrealistic/unattainable standards of beauty
- Lots of mindless information
Benefits of Taking a Social Media Detox
When I did my 30-day social media detox, It’s like I found an extra-large pocket of time in my days. I was spending so much time aimlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed that I would lose precious hours in there. As much as that’s a little embarrassing to admit, it’s the truth.
Even though we know this, it can be hard to step away when we're stuck in the pattern of doing it day in and day out.
Social media was starting to take a serious toll on my mood. I was letting other people’s highlight reel shine brighter than my own health and wellbeing.
When you're flooded with the best parts of other people's lives, you can quickly forget to realize how great your own life already is. Removing yourself from a toxic app for at least 30 days will improve your mood drastically.
Social media can be nice at times to see what friends or family are up to. However, you have to keep in mind that just like you, they are only showing their highlight reel, and you still need to reach out to see how they're really doing.
Seeing tiny little snippets of their life is not a supplement to your *actual* relationship. Checking in is imperative and essential for building quality relationships, and something you will be even more inclined to do once you are removed from that environment.
Do you ever sit back and think about how you miss the days of childhood when you could roam free without a care in the world? Popsicle in hand, ready to face the playground.
Time away from social media will leave you feeling more carefree and less doing things to impress. You'll start doing things because you want to and they feel good.
Let's remember to stop doing things that only look good and continue doing the things that actually FEEL good. That's truly what brings the most joy and fulfillment long-term.
Taking a 30-day social media detox is like someone went into your mind and dusted all the cobwebs. You're finally free to use your mind and break free from all the mental clutter that you've accumulated from following others so closely.
When we're so tuned in to what other people are thinking and talking about, we almost forget how to think for ourselves and what we personally like and dislike.
When we remove that noise, our vision becomes much clearer and focused on what we truly want.
Scrolling through your phone before bed is detrimental to your sleeping patterns. Looking at the bright light coming from your phone messes with your body's natural circadian rhythm (this tells us when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up).
The bright light throws off the rhythm which not only affects your sleeping patterns and causes things like insomnia, but it also greatly affects both your mental and physical health.
When you take a 30-day break from social media, you'll experience deeper and more restful sleep.
Oh, hobbies. You remember those activities you had when you were a kid that you enjoyed doing before social media came rearing its ugly head into the world?
With all the extra time that you'll now have during your detox, you'll have time to find new hobbies or bring old ones back into your life.
Pro tip: make sure these hobbies don't include being on your phone.
During my social media detox, I got really into wild berry foraging. It was a great way to spend time in nature, have a closer connection to my food, and practice patience (no instant gratification here).
Setting time aside for hobbies will help cultivate more joy into your life and improve your mental health.
More Present Overall
Once I stopped mindlessly reaching for my phone only to blankly stare at the screen realizing I didn't actually need it, I slowly started to become more present in other parts of my life.
When you're not constantly distracted by all of the unnecessary noise and information that is doing nothing but cluttering your mind and distracting you from what really matters, it opens up space for you to be present.
Extended Thoughts on Social Media Detoxes
While I do miss the days where we could take a picture or enjoy a moment without thinking twice about sharing it with both friends and strangers alike, participating in a 30-day social media detox will make you become more mindful of how you share in the future.
It encourages you to take a hard look at how much you've been using social media and any unhealthy patterns around your usage.
For anyone who spends any amount of time on social media, taking a break will only benefit you and change your life for the better.
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