If you find yourself breaking out in a cold sweat every time you look at your Facebook newsfeed, or stress-eating a bag of Oreos every time you get a new Snap, it might be time for a social media detox. Social media is meant to improve your life, not be your life. Few people will admit how much time they actually spend on social media each day, but for some it can become all-consuming. In fact, studies have shown that social media addiction is a real thing – and it can be damaging to your mental health.
A social media detox means different things to different people, but it always requires taking some time off. It might be a week, or it might be a month, but the point is to take a step back and reassess your relationship with your online communities. If taking a month off Facebook or Instagram feels like social suicide to you, just think about all the time you’re going to gain back. Without countless hours looking at your screen every day, you’ll be able to spend more time with your family, get in some fitness, or catch up with your friends (in real life!).
How do you know if you need to take some time off?
It interferes with your family life.
When you’re at home, your family should be you #1 priority. Too much time on social media can create a divide between you and your children, or you and your partner. Children are often viewed as spending too much time on their phones, but adults can be just as bad – if you’re so immersed in watching videos or browsing memes that you don’t even notice when someone else walks in the room, take a break.
Your real-life friendships are suffering.
Human beings yearn for a feeling of connectedness and approval. But, while the feeling of acceptance you get when 30 people like your status is great, but it’s not the same as having real, flesh-and-blood people who’ve got your back. Those internet friends won’t be there for you when the going gets tough.
You’re missing deadlines at work.
I once worked with a woman who would spend an absurd amount of time sitting at her desk, trying to create the perfect snap. She’d go through every single filter, trying pose-after-pose, all while her phone rang and she ignored it. If you’re more worried about how you look on Snapchat than you are about blowing off actual work, then you’ve got a problem.
Have you become one of those people that posts updates every 5 minutes? No one wants to know that you ate oatmeal for breakfast for the 5th day in a row, or how many times you used the bathroom today. If the line between your real life and your online life has become blurred, it might be time to step back. The need for validation from an online audience can be very real, but instead try to work on the relationships with the people around you.
You find yourself feeling jealous of your friends’ online lives.
Remember – what people post online is just a tiny little snippet of their lives (and usually only the very best parts). What you’re not seeing are all the hardships and the difficulties they choose not to air in public. Comparing your own life to what others post online is unrealistic, and damaging to your very REAL LIFE self-esteem.
Taking time off social media can give you back control – over how you use those sites, over your relationships, and over your time. Deactivate all those accounts, uninstall the apps, block the sites on your computer, and go find something else to do! Your mental health will thank you.
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