How to Take a Social Media Detox: The Mini-Vacation You Deserve

Renee Layberry
May 4, 2021

Social media might feel like your connection to the world. Whether you use Instagram and Snapchat or YouTube, Pinterest or TikTok, those social networks can play a big role in your life. And that's not bad. After all, they’re how you chat with friends and make plans for the weekend; how you stay in touch with long-distance family and friends; and how you share selfies and group photos.  The problem is, social media can also take over your life. If you find yourself reaching for your phone all day and all night, it might be time for a break. A social media detox gives you an opportunity to step away from apps that suck too much time out of your day. Below we look at how to kick off a social media detox and discover the benefits it can have in your life and your mental health. More >> Check out all the ways to get the most out of college

Social media detox basics

Let's face it, we are all a little bit addicted to our smartphones, and some of us more than others. Whether we feel phantom vibrate, a sensation that your phone is vibrating from a notification when nothing is actually there, or we just open and close our phone and social apps 100+ times a day....Social media bears great distractions in our productivity and focus. A social media detox is a self-imposed break from social media. During your detox, you remove access to social media by deleting the apps from your smartphone and blocking websites. That way, you won’t be tempted to log on and see what’s going on in the world.  During this time, you focus on connecting with friends and family in more personal ways. By detoxing, you’ll also avoid the stresses that social media can trigger. You can set the length of your detox as long (or a short) as you want. You might want to start at one week or push for a month or more without social media. Photo by Pavel Karásek

Reasons to consider getting off social media

Think about how you feel when you log off of social media. Do you feel energized by the digital interactions with friends, or do you feel envious, competitive, or even upset by what you’ve seen? If social media engagement leaves you feeling down, you might consider detoxing.   While social media might bring people together, it can also have negative effects on your health. Research indicates that social media use can trigger an array of negative feelings, including symptoms of depression. Seeing carefully curated photos and posts from friends highlights only the positive, offering an unrealistic view of their lives. Some people compare themselves to these posts, which can leave them questioning their own self-worth and trying to compete with something that doesn’t even exist.    Furthermore, there's this facade that everyone is always hustling to live their best life when a lot of people are just portraying what they think people want to see.   Studies show additional struggles with social media, too. In addition to hurting your self-esteem, scrolling through these apps all day is time that could be better spent studying or engaging with real-life friends. Social media use can result in “information overload” and become disruptive to life’s other activities.  

How to detox

Saying goodbye to social media, even for the short term, is certainly a challenge. It can be difficult to stick with, especially if you keep those apps tempting you on your smartphone. Follow these tips to ensure your detox is a success.  

Let your friends know you're on a break

You might not want to make an official announcement about your social media detox, but you do want to let your friends know that you’re signing off for a bit. That way, you can stay connected with them – offline. If you just disappear from social media without letting them know, your friends might continue to try to contact you through these sites, even when you’re not checking them.   A detox doesn’t mean disconnecting from reality, so stay engaged as you say goodbye to social media.   Photo by Thought Catalog

Sign out of your apps (and social media platforms)

Odds are your fingers scroll to social media sites when you’re not even thinking about it. Resist the urge to log on by deleting the apps from your phone. Sign out of websites that you access so that if you do go to the site, you’ll be reminded to stay off when you’re prompted for your log-in. Or, block the websites temporarily in your browser.    By doing this, you’re removing the temptation, which can help ensure that your social media detox is a success.  

Find distractions

Once your detox begins, you will quickly realize just how much time you were spending on these sites. Find ways to fill that time so that you’re distracted and not stressing about what’s happening on social media.    Read a new book series, try a new hobby, or start a new exercise program. Meet up with friends for a movie or a night out. These healthy activities can engage your body and mind as you practice social media detoxing.  

Benefits of detoxing

Your social media detox will be challenging at first, but it will also deliver plenty of benefits. As a result, your effort will be worth it.  

You’ll suddenly discover tons of time

You probably didn’t realize how much time you wasted on social media until you detoxed. You’ll add time to your day, which will make you more productive. If you use this extra time to study, you can boost your grades. You can also use it to connect with friends and family in engaging, face-to-face ways.  

Your anxiety will decrease

The world of social media can trigger worlds of anxiety. You see what other people are doing, where they’re going, and wonder why you weren’t invited. If you obsess over old posts and pictures of you and your ex, it’ll just cause you pain and won’t help you move on with your life. Social media also exposes anxiety-inducing headlines that leave you feeling stressed.   By taking time away from your social media accounts, you can reduce the anxiety that these sites and apps trigger.   Photo by Elevate

Improve your entire outlook on life

On a similar note, a social media-free life can improve your outlook. Rather than focusing on what others are doing, you can focus on your own life. You can make the best decisions for you – not ones prompted by other people’s decisions and opinions. When you do, you’ll be living your best life.  

Get more (and better) sleep

Social media is probably impacting your sleep habits, too. If you’re someone who relaxes in bed on their phone, scrolling until the wee hours, you’re likely not getting enough sleep. This can impact everything, from how you do at school to your weight and your mental health.   If you’re an early riser who starts the day on social media, you can also benefit from a detox. Without those apps serving up constant distractions, you can jump-start your morning and be satisfyingly productive.  

When you return to social media

A social media detox can be a good thing. It’ll save you time, boost your mood, and give you the opportunity to reflect on what’s important in life. When you return to social media in the future, you’ll be more mindful of how you spend your time on these apps, who you connect with, and when it’s time to put down the phone and get on with life.