As we discover the unhealthy dependence many of us have for our mobile phones, we may be wondering how to take a social media detox for more balance in our lives. A social media detox or cleanse is the deleting or nonuse of all your social media apps for a certain period of time. In other words, it is quitting cold-turkey, or “going off the grid.”
Detoxing can range anywhere from a day to two weeks to a month – but will this really help in the long run? There is no doubt that deleting these apps will limit your screen time, but you may only solve the problem temporarily. The fact of the matter is, once you reinstall your social media apps again, the cycle will likely start all over.
The quitting-cold-turkey detox approach may be applicable if you are trying to limit your phone usage for a certain reason, such as a project due date, exams or to prepare for an event. But, if you’re thinking about the long-term, it will better suit you to try another approach. However, that’s not to say the detoxing doesn’t work for anyone as this may be an effective approach for some people. We have some tips on how to take a social media detox with the most effective results.
Why is a cold-turkey approach not effective?
Just like dieting, cutting off all your favorite unhealthy foods and forbidding yourself to enjoy them may work temporarily, but it likely won’t be sustainable. Although you may see changes in yourself, you’ll find that guilt and relapses come with the sudden withdrawal. This may not be your best approach for how to take a social media detox, as you’re more likely to be thinking about it after quitting cold turkey, and therefore give up before you see long-term changes to your habits.
With Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook thrust in our faces on a daily, the fear of missing out (FOMO) on events is something we all feel. With quitting all at once, this feeling may only be amplified as your mind is wondering about all the things it may be missing. So, what can we do instead when considering how to take a social media detox?
Block out non social media times
There are many sustainable practices that may suit you in the long run that don’t involve deleting all your social media apps at once. One easy trick is to simply block out time on your schedule that is non social media time. Think of yourself as a parent who’s designating time when their child can watch TV – except in this case, you’re the child, and your phone is TV.
The best trick is to block out the times you know you’re going to be busy such as during work hours, when you’re doing chores or during meals. This makes it much easier to forget about social media since you are busy doing other things. Also, you’ll be able to focus more on the task you’re doing without distraction. Soon, you won’t even realize that you haven’t checked Instagram in hours.
Make yourself busy
Social media is everyone’s go-to activity when we’re bored or have free time, so it’s time we change that. By finding other things to do, your mind won’t be begging for you to check your phone as you’ll be busy. Go for a hike, meet some friends or find a new hobby. With all this downtime during the pandemic, it’s the perfect time to pick up new skills and make more creative use of your time.
If you’re serious about reducing social media time, it’s important to start small. Make a list of the social media apps you use in the order of value to you. Once you’ve created the list, try deleting the last app on that list from your phone. Since you’ve told yourself that you hardly use it, why not just remove it all together? This way, you’re slowly cutting down your usage without even noticing. After a month, try deleting another app, then another, then another. It’s an effective way to cut down without completely depriving yourself from social media. This is particularly useful if you are trying to make a long-term commitment to staying off social media. You can keep your apps in the cloud, and download them again from time to time to check in – without having them as a temptation on your phone on a regular basis.
These are just a few tips for how to take a social media detox. Consider taking some steps to limit your screen time so you can spend more time focusing on things you’d like to keep at a higher priority this year.
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