t the ding of a Snapchat message or an Instagram notification, your preexisting focus is often immediately snapped and your eyes shakily dart to your phone. To scroll through social media is too easy. Perusing Snapchat stories, watching YouTube videos or mindlessly skipping through your Facebook feed almost seems effortless. But if you’re not careful, social media can just as easily become a priority that dominates your life.
The hardest part of social media is being able to tell when and if you’ve become addicted. And even harder is having the willpower to take a break. Below are several questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you need a break from social media.
Do you set aside time in the day specifically to go through social media?
Is scrolling through social media the first thing you do in the morning?
Have you become obsessed with how many likes or views your content receives?
Is it difficult to make it through class without checking social media?
Are your thoughts consumed with what you will post next on social media?
If you answered yes to any of these, a break from social media won’t hurt you.
At its best, social media can be a fun way to connect with friends and family, showcase content from your life and see what other people are up to. At its worst, social media can overtake your mindset, and how well your day goes can depend on what happens in your feed.
Humans were meant to be more than turbulent beings, living in agitation, awaiting the next notification. The beauty of being in the moment is robbed from us when we allow so much focus to be directed toward the phone buzzing in our pockets.
To take a successful break from social media is a long process. If you delete all of your social media apps and expect your stress to just go away, the opposite might happen. In my experience, this technique can not only create more stress, but it can also give you the fear of missing out on whatever could be in your feed, which makes you more likely to redownload those apps before a break can happen.
In my journey to take a break from social media, the key was not to cut myself off completely at one time. In order for the stress from social media to go away, a change of mind is necessary — not just a change of apps.
Begin the process by limiting your usage. Maybe, at first, you try only going on social media at night or only in between classes. You could also try the opposite method, by defining boundaries, times and places where you absolutely can’t use social media, like during class, right before bed or right when you wake up. Or you could use Apple’s Screen Time feature or Android’s Digital Wellbeing program to see when your usage is at its peak and how much time you spend on your phone per day. Being aware of this can help you to set your limits.
By tightening your usage, you’ll allow yourself to slowly get a bigger picture and realize which apps you enjoy and which apps aren’t worth the stress that comes with them. Then, you can feel free to delete the annoying apps that interrupt your everyday life.
If you just cut yourself off from social media, you’ll likely just relapse after a few days or so. By slowly weaning yourself off of it, you can make a more permanent change. The App Store description doesn’t tell you about the stress that comes with the download, but setting limits and eventually taking a break can relieve that stress and give you a firmer grasp on reality.