Scrolling is addictive, isn’t it? It’s easy to get lost in a trance of scrolling one account after another. Before it’s too late, we wake up 45 minutes later, worrying about lost time and everything we still need to do. Social media can also feel like a challenging habit to reduce. We may become so accustomed to scrolling that we’re not aware we’re doing it or when we need to take a break. But learning how to take a social media break provides many life-enhancing benefits for your mental health and overall wellbeing.
What Are The Benefits of Taking a Social Media Break?
While social media can be a powerful tool in spreading awareness, creating positive social change, and connecting communities, it can also leave you physically and emotionally drained. In fact, social media usage is linked to poor self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and loneliness, to name a few. Thankfully, studies show the many benefits a break can provide.
- A weeklong break reduces anxiety and depression.
- A 2021 study discovered many students reported a positive change in mood, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep during a break.
- Another study found significant improvements in depression and loneliness.
8 Signs You Need To Take a Social Media Break
Ever feel jealous, angry, tired, or irritated after scrolling? It may be time to take a break from scrolling. Here are a few more tell-tale signs you need to cut back.
- You can’t stop comparing.
- You scroll without realizing it.
- You experience separation anxiety when you can’t check it.
- You struggle to enjoy the present moment without posting about it.
- You grab your phone first thing in the morning and last thing at night.
- You become irritated and upset by everything you see.
- You struggle to form your own opinions.
- You experience difficulties putting your phone down.
How to Take a Social Media Break
1. Identify your goal
First, ask yourself why you want to take a break from social media. Do you recognize that it’s affecting your life negatively? If so, be specific and write it down. For example, “I want to limit my social media usage from one hour to 30 minutes a day, so I can be more mindful in my daily life“. Once you have a goal, it will be easier to stay motivated when you find yourself reaching for your phone.
2. Change your settings
Thankfully, Instagram has made it much easier to take a break. Their settings actually support you in doing so. For example, go to your settings, select “time spent”, and from there, you can set a reminder to take breaks and specify a daily time limit. When you’re scrolling, notifications will pop up, reminding you to stop. It’s very helpful when the device you’re trying to step away from encourages you.
3. Review the time spent
After changing your settings, look at how much time you spend on social media. It shows you the average time you spent per day in the last week. The number might shock you into reducing your daily limit. It may also cause you to self-reflect on how social media affects your life. Have you noticed signs that you’re upset? Do you feel like you’re not living in the present moment? Does your phone feel like an extension of your body? Consider how social media affects you.
4. Replace a habit
Ask the reason you scroll. Do you use it because you want to relax, connect, or for entertainment? When you have the reason, swap social media with a more positive and healthier habit. For example, if you scroll to relax, complete a yoga workout, take a walk, read, journal, stretch, or do anything you find relaxing that won’t negatively impact you.
5. Place your phone away from you
When you’re winding down for bed, place your phone across your room at night to eliminate scrolling. Keeping it out of your arm’s reach will help you fight the urge from checking it if you’re fighting insomnia. Even more, this simple redirection will further prevent you from scrolling as soon as you wake up. It provides so many wins.
6. Leave your phone at home
If your goal is to spend more quality time with your loved ones, consider leaving your phone at home from time to time. For example, when meeting a friend for dinner, ask yourself, do I really need it? Chances are, you don’t. Therefore, intentionally leave it home and enjoy a present evening out with your loved ones. If you experience separation anxiety, this is another indicator of how important it is to eliminate the time you spend checking your phone.
7. Use a different alarm
One of the best ways to stop checking your social media at night or when you wake up is to change your alarms. Don’t use your phone for your wake-up anymore. Get a separate alarm clock so your morning routine doesn’t involve your device.
8. Turn off notifications
Did you know when you get a notification, it creates a dopamine response? This stimulus is actually similar to drug use. It can cause addictive feelings, making it harder to break the habit. But it will be easier to learn how to take a social media break if your phone isn’t constantly reminding you of what’s going on. Therefore, go to your settings and turn off the notifications. Don’t think twice and stick with your goal.
9. Consider social etiquette
Many of us forget social etiquette when using our phones. We check it when we’re at dinner, talking to friends, in a meeting, etc. Consider the times checking your phone is inappropriate. For example, if you’re having a face-to-face conversation with a loved one, chances are pulling out your phone mid-way is rude. This behavior tells your friend you’re bored and no longer want to continue the conversation. Even if this isn’t the case, that’s the message you’re relaying. Think about how you want to treat the people around you, and resist the urge to check your phone.
10. Swap with self-care
Instead of reaching for your phone, check-in with yourself and ask how you’re feeling. Have you spent any time on your self-care? If not, choose an activity that makes you feel good. For example, call a friend to connect with them face-to-face, take a hot bath to relax, cook a healthy meal with your partner, or go to the gym to sweat out your stress. Any one of these activities will provide a mood-boosting effect.
Remember, learning how to take a social media break benefits your life mentally and enhances your overall wellbeing. It can help you reconnect to the present moment, feel happier day-to-day, and feel more grateful for the life you have. While reducing your time spent scrolling, use anyone of these accessible strategies to support you.
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