Take A Break from Social Media
I glance at the kitchen clock. Forty minutes just screamed by in what felt like seconds. How was it possible that I just lost almost an hour of precious time scrolling Instagram AGAIN. I feel numb, ashamed, and “not enough” all at the same time. I know I’m not alone in this time suck. I’ve seen it happen to my family, friends and students.
Social media can be a great way to stay connected to our family and friends. I love to stay up on style trends and follow travel bloggers. But, about a year ago I repeatedly found myself being sucked into hours of mindless scrolling which left me feeling foggy and neglectful or angry and sad, depending on what came across my feed.
According to Psychology Today (February 2020) excessive time on social media can lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety. It can also lead us into feelings of inadequacy about how we look or what we are doing in our lives. I have felt all of this myself. And social media is addictive. It was created that way. Everytime we receive a “like,” a share or a comment we’re getting a hit of dopamine to our beautiful brains. Once I connected the dots and realized how my social media binges were affecting my mental state and physical health and interrupting the real relationships in my life I knew I needed to make a conscious change.
Any change that we want to have in our lives doesn’t magically happen. It takes effort and a little smart goal setting.
Set time limits on your phone. Many phones have screen time notifications that you can set up in settings and there are apps like “Freedom” and “Screen Time” that help you set limits for yourself. It’s like allowing yourself to eat four cookies but not the whole package.
Remove the phone from your space. When I need to do an important task, or I want to be more present, I intentionally leave my phone in a different room, in my purse or in my desk. Silenced. Multi-tasking is a myth and social media slows me down.
Turn off social media notifications. I don’t need all of those distractions all the time. When I purposefully check into those outlets, I’ll see updates at that time. The people who need me IRL have my phone number.
Keep the phone out of the bedroom at night. It’s too tempting and distracting. I try to put the phone away after dinner to give my brain a chance to take a break.
Find your joy. Remember what made you happy when you were little? Find a version of that. Get creative. You don’t have to be the next Picasso or John Green. You just have to do things that bring you contentment. Draw, write, bake, play a game, take a walk and let your mind wander.
Journal. Sometimes we inadvertently use social media to distract us from dealing with the tough parts of life. Get all of those thoughts and feelings out of your head. Writing helps you process your life and can give you clarity.
Set real intentions about how you want to use social media. Think about why you want to log on and build in times to take breaks. Set timers and stick to them. Make a plan for what you’ll do when the timer goes off. I like to plan a physical activity like a quick workout video or make a meal to help make it easier to leave the screen.
Tell the people you spend time with of your intentions. Ask them to help you to be accountable. Maybe they’ll want to do a social media detox with you.
This was originally published in the Daily News, January 9, 2021