21 Ways To Do A Social Media Detox This Year
Many years ago, I went through a phase where I was exhausted all of the time and overwhelmed by things that I didn’t even realize were overwhelming me. When I spoke about this feeling with my doctor and my therapist, both of them questioned how much time I was spending on social media and how it was affecting my mental, emotional and physical health. And that’s when I realized: I needed to do a social media detox.
Ever since then, I have mastered the art of doing a social media cleanse or break every year just in time for the new year. The main thing I like to do is clear out my followers and the people I am following. I make sure to take stock which social media apps are still useful to me and let go of the ones that are causing me more harm than good. In the end, I’ve learned 21 tips for doing a social media detox that have helped me to let go of the harmful relationships I have and to focus more on being present in the moment… Without totally giving up social media for good.
1. Go through your phone and delete any apps you haven’t used in the past 6 months.gophonelatina/Instagram
I know many people who are what I call app hoarders. They download any and every app they think they might someday use and hang on to them for dear life. But you know what that really creates? Clutter! And, even worse, sometimes it creates various social media accounts that you never plan to use since so many apps have their own communities. But if you have an app and haven’t used it in a while, why are you keeping it on your phone? So the first step to a social media detox is to go through your phone and delete anything you don’t use. Be realistic with yourself, not aspirational. After all, you can always re-download something if you find that in three months you actually DO want to or need to use it. But you know what? In all of my years of doing this, I’ve only had to re-download an app two or three times.
2. Before deleting apps, make sure you delete your accounts on them, too.__the_stupid__46/Instagram
This one is crucial because, often, we delete apps but don’t go and delete those accounts. This can create a certain amount of chaos because, for instance, I am still getting emails from my old FitBit account even though I haven’t had the device or the app in over two years. So as you are clearing your phone of all the stuff you don’t use, be sure that you delete your accounts BEFORE deleting the app… Otherwise, you will be stuck in the super awkward position of having to re-download the app just to delete it again. Or, worse, finding a customer service person to delete your account for you. What a hassle!
3. Pick your 2-3 favorite social media apps.instagram/Instagram
When going into a social media detox of cleanse, you will want to do a big thing first: Think about the apps that you truly love. What are the ones that bring you joy? Where is it that you see most of your friends and loved ones? Which apps make you smile on a regular basis? I would bet that you can’t use those descriptors for 100% of your social media apps, so this is the perfect time to let go of some of those. For me, Instagram is my favorite, followed closely by Facebook and then Twitter. Although I still maintain a Pinterest account (mostly to track recipes I want to cook), I don’t focus on it and I don’t have the app on my phone. And when it comes to new social media that springs up? Sure, I will try it but it’s crucial not to sign up for too much — so if something new comes out in four months that I just LOVE, then that means I have to delete one of the other ones that I use in order to keep to the 2-3 rule.
4. Pick 1 app per day and take a few hours to go through who you follow.tanyong_awygirls/Instagram
Here’s how you detox: After you have gone through and figured out which apps are actually worthwhile to you and deleted the rest, you need to go through everyone that you follow on those apps. One thing that I have found is that I will often follow people and then forget how I know them or why I care about them. What purpose are they serving in my life? Am I actually enjoying their accounts or are they simply adding clutter to everything else? Evaluate everyone you follow in these terms. And speaking of…
5. As you go through the people you follow, check out their profiles.gala_derroisne_photography/Instagram
Going through the profiles of the people you follow is crucial because it helps to remind you not only why you may have followed this person in the first place but also allows you to see if their profile has changed since you first followed them… And whether that change is something that you care to continue looking at on a daily basis. Maybe it’s not and that’s okay. Be real with yourself, your likes and dislikes, your interests and who you truly care about. Especially because…
6. If looking at someone’s profile makes you feel ANYTHING bad, evaluate why.gala_derroisne_photography/Instagram
Here’s where the word “detox” really comes in handy in your social media quest for the new year. When you are going through all of the people you follow on social media and reviewing their profiles again, are there any people that make you feel not-so-great? Are there any people that you know you are mostly following because you are jealous of their life? Is there anyone that you’re following that make you feel as if your life isn’t enough? Is there anyone that you follow who you do so out of obligation or because you love to hate-follow them? Think about all of these issues, and then…
7. Then, act accordingly: Delete, unfollow or silence them.nanhais/Instagram
Seriously. This might be one of my best pieces of advice but you DO NOT need that kind of negativity staring at you every single day from your phone (or wherever else you access social media). Sure, you might secretly like to feel a bit bad about yourself because someone else has a better life than you but, ultimately, you aren’t doing yourself any favors here. It’s nice to get an extra kick in the butt for motivation when you follow a friend who seems to be a couple steps ahead of you. But, in general, we follow a lot of people on social media who ultimately make us feel less-than. If someone you follow makes you feel as if you are not measuring up, then why are you even following them? Take action steps now and delete, unfollow or silence those people so that you no longer see their content unless you choose to actively seek it out.
8. Do this on all of your accounts, one by one.annietram77/Instagram
Repeat steps 5-7 on all of your social media accounts, one by one. I know it may be a hassle and take you a long time but that’s why I recommend taking a whole day to do this kind of clearing out for each social media account. I know it can take a while. In fact, it takes hours. Many, many hours. Make sure that you clear your schedule or do this on a day when you don’t have much else going on. My recommendation is to put on a favorite movie trilogy (Hunger Games, anyone?) and start your social media detox ASAP.
9. Next, go through the people that follow YOU and note if any of them make you feel uncomfortable.im.still.around/Instagram
Just as you want to make sure that you are not following anyone that makes you feel icky, you’ll want to make sure that the same can be said for the people that follow you. Although you don’t always have tons of control over this, sometimes you do. You can block people or delete them from your page. You know there’s at least a couple people that come to mind immediately when you think of doing this. For me, it’s usually some dude that not-so-subtly tries to hit on me on various social media channels. This is creepy and weird and, yes, you better believe I deleted that guy.
10. Figure out WHY you like to use social media.twinsharryandleo/Instagram
A bit part of a social media detox or cleanse is going back to the basics and figuring out why exactly it is that you like to use social media. This can be a much more complicated question than we often give it credit for. Are you using it to keep up with old friends? To see what the family is up? All of that is good. But what else? What are you getting out of social media that you might not be getting out of your real life? What are you getting out of social media that you can’t get out of a catch-up phone call or texting more often with your college bestie? Examine these reasons and figure out whether social media is ultimately really adding to your life in a positive way.
11. But also journal about whether it’s causing you any mental anguish.shanrriley/Instagram
Look, I’ll be honest: Social media can be great and wonderful but it can also be tricky and problematic. There are people that you might be following or that follow you who aren’t the best for your mental health (though, hopefully, you would have deleted them by now as outlined in the steps above!). When you are thinking about what social media truly brings to your life, you need to also think about whether it is causing you any real issues. Is it making your anxiety worse? Is it making you depressed? Is it making you feel as if you are not enough? I find it really helpful to journal about these feelings in order to get to the bottom of them so that they can help you evaluate whether social media is doing more harm than good in your life.
12. Decide if you need to do a social media break, too.twomarketgirls/Instagram
After you’ve gone through and figured out what the positives and negatives of social media in your life, you are now more equipped to figure out if you need an actual break. I like to think of a social media detox as the steps above, where you clear yourself of people you shouldn’t be following and figure out whether it’s really adding to your life, but sometimes you need to go a step further and take an actual social media break. Is this something that you feel you might want to do? A good way to try it might be to delete some more social media apps off your phone and only access them when you are on the computer. Another idea might be to dedicate a week (or even a month!) to not checking ANY social media channels and see if that improves your life in whatever way you need it to improve right now.
13. Tell your friends.lacocinapodcast/Instagram
Here’s where you can expand your social media detox beyond just yourself. It’s important to tell your friends about what you are going through and your reasons for cutting back on social media, deleting certain accounts or just taking a week-long break. Why? For one, some of your friends may be able to relate or tell you stories of their own social media breaks. Other friends might learn a thing or two, so you may inspire them. And ultimately, you probably WANT to keep in touch with them, right? So tell them about your social media detox in an effort to talk to them more offline and less on Facebook messenger.
14. Take the time to discover new interests or reconnect with old ones.leslie_coutterand/Instagram
Here’s where a social media detox can really help you in a big way: Since you are spending less time online and with your phone, you should, in theory, have time to devote to other things. Is there a business idea you’ve always wanted to try? Or is there an old interest that you’ve meant to go back to for years and just haven’t had the time? Whatever it is, I bet you can think of at least two or three things that you don’t currently “have time for” because you likely spend more on social media than you’d like to admit. Well, thanks to your social media detox, you should be able to have more time for hobbies outside of the online world.
15. Plan to be more present in the moment.kit2thekat_/Instagram
One of the best parts of having less social media in your life is that you can now devote more time to just being in the moment. Yes, that partially includes hobbies (see above) and time with friends (also see above) but that can also mean a lot of other things. For instance, do you find yourself reaching for your phone every time you Netflix and chill? Or are you mindlessly scrolling through Instagram while having dinner? All of these things are taking you out of enjoying the movie or enjoying the simple pleasures of eating a nice dinner. So, stop it. Now that you have less social media to focus on, you can focus on the things that really matter.
16. If you aren’t taking a break, then plan to put your phone down at a certain time.foodwithlizzie/Instagram
Even if you aren’t taking a social media break for a week, you can still cut back on your social media use. Not only will you likely automatically cut back on social media when you follow the steps above to reduce the number of people you follow but you can also take steps to be more mindful of social media consumption. For instance, are you checking your phone while out to dinner with a friend or during movie previews? That would be a good time to put your phone down. One of the best things I started doing after my husband and I met is that we both started putting our phones down when we started dinner. Once dinner is on the table, our phones are gone and they do not reappear again until we are going to bed. Why is this such a great idea? Well, for me, it gives me some much-needed time with my partner and several hours when I am thinking about nothing else but my own happiness… And not checking my email or Instagram obsessively like I used to.
17. Leave your phone at home next time you do something outside.pasosverdes/Instagram
Here’s a novel idea: Try leaving your house without your phone at your side. I know what you’re going to say: But that’s impossible! Is it, though? If you are going somewhere that you know how to get to, do you really need your phone for directions? If you are meeting up with a friend, do you really need your phone at your side to tell your bestie that you’ll be 5 minutes late? Honestly, she probably won’t even notice. Try it. Within reason, of course, but it IS possible to leave the house without your phone and the ability to check social media 24/7. Trust me, you might even like it.
18. Stop and think: Am I just #DoingItForTheGram?timi_mason/Instagram
Are you just doing it for the likes on Instagram, or whatever your preferred social media outlet is? It’s okay. We have all fallen into this trap of stopping and doing something (or not doing something) because of how it will appear on our social media channels. Even if you are mostly following friends and keeping your social media private, you’re still projecting some sort of image on social media. And while the basic concept of that is okay, what you shouldn’t be doing is investing your valuable time and, even worse, money into projecting an image that isn’t you. This is where the #doingitforthegram hashtag comes in and, if you find that you are doing more of that than not, then you might want to evaluate why.
19. Call your friend.omoefemakeupstudio/Instagram
Did you see something on Facebook and immediately want to tell your bestie about it, so you went to go send it to her on FB messenger…. Only to realize that you’ve made a commitment to do less social media in 2019, and now what? Well, here’s an idea: Call her! Every time that you see something on social media that reminds you of a loved one, reach out to them. Don’t smile and think, “oh man, Johanna would love that.” Instead, send it to her and give her a call to talk about it. Don’t wait. Reconnecting with the people you truly care about is one of the reasons you’re doing a social media cleanse in the first place, isn’t it?
20. STOP with the comparing.jlo/Instagram
Comparing yourself to others on social media is the number one reason why a lot of us want a social media detox and a reason why a lot of really NEED to take a social media break. It’s easy to compare yourself to the perfect lives that everyone projects on social media. But that’s the thing about it: You’re looking at that person’s highlight real. Most of us don’t post photos on social media where we look scruffy or our hair is unwashed or we’ve been crying or dealing with family drama. Most of us keep quiet about those moments, continuing to post gorgeous photos of our latest travel adventures or favorite dish that we are or cooked. But that’s not reality, and you need to keep that in mind. Don’t compare your real life to someone else’s highlights. It will get you nowhere fast, which is why I highly recommend that you don’t follow the people that make you particularly feel bad when comparing yourself to them.
21. Trade your FOMO in for JOMO.madedotcom/Instagram
It seems as if everyone experiences FOMO, the fear of missing out, these days and a lot of that is because of social media. You know it and I know it. It’s almost impossible to look at social media and not feel a sense of jealousy or wonder over what someone you know or follow is doing… and wish that you were doing the same thing. My main culprit? Travel. Some of my friends get to travel a lot more than I do and I can’t help but feel jealous of that, I admit. But you know what you can embrace instead? JOMO. That stands for the JOY of missing out. Sometimes, you need to remind yourself that there are a lot of great things about missing out, including having more money in the bank account and better mental health. So focus on those things first, embrace JOMO and let go of FOMO.
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