I’m addicted to social media as much as the next person. I even run a whole business based on social media just so I can justify spending so much time on it (okay, maybe not just for that purpose but still… you get my point).
But there are sometimes when you might start to see signs you need to take a break from social media. I know I do!
While I don’t think social media is that bad for you, I also believe you need to use it in moderation – like coffee and donuts.
Apparently, we now spend more than two hours a day on social media (I spend way more than that), but just imagine if we reduced that by just half an hour and had a real conversation with someone, like a phone call or face to face conversation. Or even if we spent that time exercising.
If you’re not sure, check these signs you need to take a break from social media.
1 – You Check Your Phone First Thing In The Morning, AND Anytime You Wake During The Night
Of course, we want to check our phones of a morning to see what’s been happening while we’ve slept, and when you’re addicted to social media that want becomes a bit more of a need.
But if you reach for your phone the moment your eyes open, before you even register to the time of day then we may have an issue.
If you check your phone during the night at anytime you wake, then you definitely need to be taking a break. Give yourself some distance… like a super clingy relationship.
2 – You Have a Brand New Phone and The Battery Still Only Lasts Half The Day
Brand new phones are supposed to have a fantastic battery life, like they really should last the whole day.
But if you have a new phone and it’s still only lasting half the day because of your addiction to watching and sharing cat videos on Facebook, then you probably have to rethink your relationship with social media.
Next level is if you’ve bought a portable battery pack just so you can get your social media fix for the day… yikes!
3 – You Know Everything That’s Happening In Someone’s Life Even Though You Haven’t Spoken To Them In Years
Have you ever caught up with someone you haven’t seen in years and then realise you still know the name of their new husband and newborn child because you
stalk see their social media updates.
Of course, it’s normal to know a bit about the people you’re friends with on social media, but this is normally balanced with real life catch ups and talking with these people as well.
If you’re finding you only know everything about other people because you see it on social media, then perhaps you should take a break.
4 – You Go To The Toilet Just So You Can Check Your Phone Without Being Judged
I have to admit, there have been times I’ve gone to the toilet just to get a few minutes away from the toddler, and I may or may not have posted a status update or two while in there.
But if you find yourself avoiding social situations and making excuses to go to the toilet just so can check the latest Instagram posts that’s a totally different level.
Sure, lock yourself in the toilet for some peace and quiet, just don’t avoid real life conversations to keep up with your social media ones.
5 – People Don’t Actually Recognise You In Real Life Because You Don’t Look Anything Like Your Profile Picture
FaceTune much? I get it, I’m not going to be posting the scariest pictures of myself, and I take about 10 different shots so I can decide which one looks best. I mean, who doesn’t?
By all means, go ahead and photoshop or FaceTune or apply whatever filter you want. Show your best side! That’s the wonder of social media.
But make sure you see people enough in real life that they still know what you really look like.
6 – You Start To Get Separation Anxiety From Your Phone
Can you make a quick trip to the shops without your phone and not have a complete panic attack?
I totally understand the need to have our phones on us most of the time, especially when we are out of the house. We are a society that is always connected and always contactable.
But how does the thought of not having your phone make you feel?
What about going somewhere where there is no reception for a few days? Sound relaxing or is the thought of it enough to send you into a full-scale meltdown?
7 – You Go Out For Coffee With Friends Without Taking Photos And Uploading To Instagram (#coffeedates)
And then you spend the whole time you are catching up checking to see how many likes your post has received.
Even worse if you get cranky at your friend for not liking it yet. Even though she is sitting across from you and trying to have a normal conversation with you.
Yeah… if you can’t hold a face to face conversation with a friend without checking your social media channels you’ve definitely got an addiction you need to break.
Maybe you and social media need to spend some time apart – get some healthy distance from each other.
8 – The Amount Of Time You Spend On Social Media Sites Is Increasing
We all have different social media habits, and the amount of screen time you deem to be acceptable is entirely up to you.
But, if you’re notice you’re starting to spend a lot of time scrolling your social media feeds, and less time in the non-digital world, then you might be on your way to needing a social media break.
Social media usage can really start to take up a lot of space in people’s lives, and while you might catch up online with a family member, or check in on your Facebook friends, you have to ask yourself if it’s really the best way to keep in contact, and if it’s really a good thing to spend so much time typing to each other, instead of spending real time together on a regular basis.
9 – You’re Noticing Your Social Media Time Is Starting To Affect Your Mental Health
Research shows a massive link between low self-esteem in young adults and other social media users, and the amount of time they spend on social media. A recent study even showed a spike in cortisol (the stress hormone) when we hear social media notifications.
If you take a scroll through your Instagram feed, or swipe through your Instagram stories, you’ll see that social media doesn’t actually reflect real life, and it’s really just a display of the highlight reels of people’s lives.
The negative effects of social media can sometimes outweigh the positive effects, especially if you’re not balancing your online time with human interaction.
So, what do you do about it?
You’ve realised you need a break from social media, have a digital detox , and step away from the social networks… so what are your first steps?
Step 1 – Commit To Going Cold Turkey
Here’s the thing about social media addiction, you can’t just use a little of social media and be okay. If you’re going to take a break, and seriously go through a social media detox, then you need to cut it all out.
Decide on the time frame of your social media detox. I would suggest at least an entire week, but it really is up to you. This is an important step as you want to make sure you have an end date in mind, and therefore you’re more likely to stick with it.
Step 2 – Log Out Of All Of Your Social Media Accounts
Being logged out of your accounts will mean it’s less likely that you’ll mindlessly open one of your social media apps and scroll through. It’s quite incredible how much we do this out of habit, without even realising what we are doing.
You can do a little social media hiatus announcement, and share some social media posts that let people know they can call or text you if they need to get in contact with you. Those who are most important in your life should have your phone number anyway.
After you’ve done this, good idea is to actually delete all of the various social media platforms from your phone. Out of sight, out of mind.
Step 3 – Decide What You Are Going To Do With Your Free Time
The next thing you need to do is to decide what you are going to do with all of your free time.
There are so many things you can do instead of spending time on social media, it really depends on what you’re interested in.
Replacing your bad habit (too much social media time) with a good habit (such as physical activity) can help you keep you social media usage under control when (IF…) you decide to make your return to the digital space as you’ll have new habits that take up part of your time.
Step 4 – Plan Your Return
Whatever you do, don’t just jump right back in to the way things were before, logging into all of your accounts and going right back to it. You will have undone all of your hard work, glossed over the biggest benefits of your social media detox, and won’t get as much value from your experience.
Plan your return by creating some significant differences in how you approach social media.
You may want to place a time limit on how long you spend on social media on a daily basis and set boundaries and ground rules around what this looks like.. Perhaps you to and unfollow Instagram accounts that don’t make you feel fantastic and support your new outlook.
You can also make sure none of your apps are on your home screen , and that you switch off your push notifications so you aren’t feeling as attached to your social media.
Whatever you choose to do, make sure you know the main reasons why you are taking the break in the first place, what different things you want to achieve from having time away, what you want your new social media appraoch to look like, and remember that social media is just one tiny snippet of what a person chooses to share.
The bottom line is this: Not all social media is bad. But just remember to keep the balance between real life and the online world. There is a big difference between the two.
This post was updated in August 2021.