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  • Writer's pictureMadison

Social Media Detox: Why Taking a Break Helps Your Mental Health

Last year, after having a massive fight with a group of friends, I decided to take a break from social media to focus on my mental health. I deleted my Snapchat and Instagram and got rid of all the people I didn’t talk to in my contacts.

After deleting the apps off my phone and laptop, I felt a ‘withdrawal.’ I can’t even count the number of times I caught myself going to where my Instagram used to be, about to mindlessly open and scroll.

For many people, social media is an addiction: a constant need to check likes, see what everyone else is up to, and catch up on the latest trends.

At first, I felt disconnected and out of the loop. People would say, “Have you heard about ______’s and ______’s breakup?” or “Did you know ______ got a butt lift?” I had so many people ask me why I haven’t replied to their messages or if I saw their stories, and when I tried to explain my ‘break’ to them, they didn’t get it.

The importance of taking occasional social media breaks is severely underestimated. We’re often so caught up in our lives and the lives of the people we’re following that we forget to take a step back. Breathe.

We hear people talking about ‘Social Media Detoxing’ and ‘Taking a Social Media Break,’ but it’s always viewed as something that Mummy Bloggers and Millennials do. So, what is a detox, and how do you do it?

According to Freedom [2021], a social media break (or detox, as it’s more commonly called) is when you use zero social media for a certain amount of time. This can range from 24 hours to 6 months. It’s really up to you!

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your detox journey:

Delete the apps

If straight-up deleting your social media is a little bit too scary, I find a significant first step is setting time limits for yourself. For example, 1 hour on Instagram, 30 minutes on Snapchat and TikTok, or even putting an overall screen time goal. Mine is currently 2 hours a day, and it’s a great place to start. Having this goal motivates you and, when achieved, gives you that little serotonin boost that scrolling used to. It’s also important to have times for not using your phone. For example, sleeping with your phone in another room and getting out of bed to get it, or not being on it for an hour before bedtime to allow your brain some downtime. Another great way to go is limiting the people you follow. Unfollowing the people whose content doesn’t benefit you or teach you something can clear your headspace and your feed.

Find new things to do

After getting rid of my social media, I found I had so much time on my hands. I started taking Swedish lessons and crochet and found time to read all the books I wanted. You don’t have to start knitting or learning Chinese, but if you take even 30 minutes a day to do something you love or schedule a catch-up with a friend, it can make a difference in your mental health.

Find new ways to stay informed

Many of us get most of our news from social media, and now you don’t have it (or are using it less), you can feel out of the loop. Finding new ways to stay informed is essential for our human need for connectivity. Talking about current affairs and what’s happening in other people’s lives with your family and friends can be a good start. This is a way to get your fix of good news without all the bad stuff.

Have an accountability buddy

Have someone who can keep an eye on you and make sure you don’t break your promise to yourself. If you feel like you’re going to be extremely tempted, have them change the password and look after your account until you’re ready to get back on. Make sure you also let everyone know you won’t be on social media and ensure the people you still want to interact with have your phone number or email.

Enjoy the benefits

After getting rid of the apps, you’ll have so much free time. Your head will feel clearer, and you’ll even sleep better. I still don’t have any social media. It’s been a little over six months, and I don’t have the urge to get it back, and I don’t feel like it’s something I need at this point in my life. I honestly feel happier and more mentally strong, and I think that’s so powerful.

Written by Madison 15yrs

I’m super excited to be working with the Safe on Social Youth Advisory Committee because I love researching, learning and using my knowledge to guide other people.

I’m passionate about online safety, and I enjoy working with other people.

When I’m not studying, reading, or designing my future house, I’m at the beach, hanging out with friends, or doing makeup. I love drama and hope that I can be on TV or in movies one day.

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