People have heard of detoxing from sugar or drugs, but not everyone has heard of a social media detox. For many, myself included, social media was an addiction. I checked social media when I needed a break, to procrastinate, when I had a good day or a bad day, to check the news, to check on friends. I used it all the time!
When I didn’t check my phone for an hour, I would start having anxiety. According to a survey by Mobile Mindset, I am not alone. Fifty-nine percent of people said they could not stay away from their phone for more than an hour without having anxiety.
Why are people so addicted to social media?
Scientists believe it is because of the dopamine-driven feedback loop people get when they are using Facebook. Dopamine is a chemical produced in your brain associated with pleasure. Exercising, sex, food, or even checking items off a list can trigger a release of dopamine. When someone gets a like, comment, or share on Facebook, this provides them with the dopamine chemical we like, even get addicted to.
Is it time for a social media detox?
The average American spends over two hours a day on social media and picks up their phone 76 times a day, according to research by company Dscout. They also analyzed that nearly 1.1 million mobile phones get touched every other day- heavy users averaged on their phones in a single day.
Think about how much time that is. What could you do if you had an extra 2-4 hours a day? I did an experiment, a social media detox. I realized by the end of my experiment I was getting twice as much done during my day, my relationships improved, and I was less anxious.
Also Read: Is Social Media Hijacking Your Happiness
Social media is one of the biggest productivity killers.
I consider myself a heavy user of social media. I decided to log my social media use for just one day. I discovered I was spending an hour or more just in the morning on Facebook. In total, I was spending more than 4 hours a day on social media.
Sometimes I’d spend more than a half-hour just thinking about things I wanted to post on Facebook. I was googling answers to other people’s questions on Facebook groups. I liked the positive feedback of being helpful and answering a question… I would think about things I wanted to post on Facebook while I was driving, at the grocery store, and while I was working. It was consuming my life, interfering in my relationships, and killing my productivity. That’s when I decided it was time for a detox.
How do you do a social media detox?
A social media detox is like a fast or purge from social media. Have you ever gone on a diet? When you give up sugar or fatty foods, your body resists. Social media has the same effect. Try going without social media for two hours and see how you feel? Can you do it? During my first attempt at a detox, I couldn’t even go two hours without using social media.
A social media detox is a complete elimination of social media for a period of time. Most detoxes are done for a month, but even a 2-week detox can be effective.
Being a social media and marketing consultant, completely eliminating social media was not possible for me. Many business owners, consultants, and marketing managers experience the same issues. We use social media for networking, marketing, and promoting our business. This makes a detox more difficult but not impossible.
Social Media Detoxing tips
1. Change your attitude about social media.
When I thought about how much money I was making for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with my free content, it really changed my perspective. What if I spent that time creating content for my own business? What if the energy I was giving to social media was used instead for my business? Think about how much free “work” you are providing for social media and how much better it would be if you were investing that time in your own projects.
2. Keep a log of your social media time for one month
If you can’t eliminate social media completely, start your detox by logging your time on social media. Every time you use social media, record the length of time you were using it and why you used it in your log.
You can use your social media log the same way you would an exercise or food log. Set measurable goals to reduce your time per day on social media, and track your progress.
The first week, you might find you can only go an hour or an hour and a half without checking social media. Keep track of your overall time spent on social media for the week and reduce the amount of time you’re spending on social media each week. Don’t worry if you can’t break the habit instantly. Aim for making progress during each week of your detox. By the end of the month, you will be surprised by how much more you are getting done.
Also Read: How Does Social Media Impact Health
3. Keep a journal for 30 days
A journal doesn’t have to be complicated. At the end of each day, write down how you feel. How hard was it for you to go without social media that day? Do you feel less anxious as each day goes by? Are you getting more done in your day? Are your relationships improving because you are more attentive? Journaling has always been a tool for me. At the end of my detox, I was able to see clearly how much social media was controlling my life.
4. Turn off your social media notifications
When you start your detox, turn off all your notifications on all of your social media accounts. You may be tempted to leave them on, especially if you manage social media accounts for your business. Notifications are a distraction and will create an urgent response. Even if you have a business, it is okay to respond to your notifications during set times. If your social media accounts require instant responses, consider hiring a virtual assistant or social media consultant to manage your accounts for you.
5. Remove all social media apps from your phone
Your phone provides you with instant access to social media and is the source of most people’s social media addiction. If you are a hard-core social media addict, your phone may never lead your side. My family called my phone “my boyfriend” because that was exactly how attached I was to it. Removing social media apps from my phone was completely necessary for me to detox.
6. Replace your social media feedback loop
Did you know that accomplishing goals also releases dopamine? Dopamine plays a key role in our motivation. One of the best ways to reset your brain’s need for social-media induced dopamine is to replace it with a better form of dopamine. When you see how much more you are accomplishing each week and how much more effectively you are using your time, this will provide you with a positive replacement for your social media addiction. Don’t believe it, give it a try?