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  1. Blog
  2. Mental Health

Social Media Detox 101: How to Take One & Why It Matters

It might not be easy, but it’s worth it

social media detox
Photo courtesy of Prateek Katyal

A few months ago, my phone was stolen and long story short, I ended up not having a phone for an entire month. After a few brief moments of panic, I realized, hey, maybe this is a blessing in disguise. I had been wanting to take a social media detox, and well, this was the perfect time to start.

So, what did I learn? I learned that mental health is so, so important, and I learned to appreciate the little things that make me happy more often. Every day, I had more time to read, or cook, or take a walk around the neighborhood with no distractions on my phone. Slowly but surely, I lost the urge to whip out my phone to make an Instagram story or look at memes on Twitter. I felt much more creative, productive, and just healthier in general.

Social media addictions can be detrimental to everyone—but they can be especially detrimental to women. Women are constantly bombarded with so many conflicting messages online: Be proud of your body and who you are! But also, still lose those 10 pounds and smile a little more. Be confident in the workplace and stand up for yourself! But also read this article about the seven things you need to improve on at work. Be proud of juggling work and a child—you’re a superstar! But also, how dare you leave your child in daycare and not give them all the attention they deserve?

We groom our social media accounts like they are part of our families. We nurture them, worry about them, and even become obsessed, incessantly and mindlessly checking on them throughout the day. It’s an addiction, and it never ends.

I’m not encouraging you to throw your phone into an ocean (or have it stolen…), but definitely take a break from social media to recenter yourself, regroup, and figure out what’s really important to you in life.

Here are some simple steps to start your detox:

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1. Start by doing a cleanse of your current accounts

You should unfollow anyone who isn’t contributing to your life in a healthy way or leave groups that may be toxic. Think influencers (people who are paid to post on social media) or models who may be subconsciously feeding you unrealistic standards to strive for. That way, if you come back to social media, you’ll have a much healthier feed.

2. Then comes the hard part—the breakup, if you will

You need to delete all of your social media apps from your phone. This way, even if you have the urge to check them, they won’t be there. If you think you’ll still be tempted to check on your computer, deactivate your accounts or have someone change your passwords for you.

3. Tell a friend or someone close to you

They can help enforce your detox by checking in with you! Sure, you can go a few days, but it’s hard to stick with a detox at home when there’s no one around to keep you in line. One little peek could send you spiraling back into old habits.

4. Take up a new hobby to keep you busy

Distract your mind by trying out new things like cooking more elaborate recipes, or starting to paint, or joining a new workout class. You can even fill the void by learning new skills like mastering photoshop or even picking up a new language.

5. Keep your phone out of your bedroom

If you’re like me, you spend a while checking social media before bed and when you wake up. That’s an unhealthy way to start and end your day, so keep your phone out of your bedroom before you go to sleep. That way, you’ll hopefully be able to break the habit of excessive screen time in bed. Plus, if you use your phone as an alarm in the morning, you’ll be forced to get up immediately to turn it off instead of hitting the snooze button more than you’d like to admit.

Keep up with the detox for however long you think it will take you to break the habit, but I’d recommend starting with a month. If and when you start to use social media again, be aware of how much time you’re spending on the apps. Of course, there are people who absolutely need social media for their jobs. Since you won’t be able to completely cut out social media cold turkey, you can install time-blocking apps that’ll limit your screen time and notify you of how long you’ve been using your phone. A detox might not be easy, but it’s worth it.

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