I knew I needed to take a break from social media when my Screen Time report showed I was averaging six hours a day on my phone.
“Six hours? What?! How is this possible?” I thought to myself, all while endlessly scrolling the TikTok “For You” page.
Half of today’s youth reported feeling addicted or dependent on their phones. Was I one of those people? It’s so, so easy to spend too much time on social media, and it doesn’t just tire our thumbs. There can be real-world consequences.
I took some time to do a real check-in with myself. How was I feeling? What was my mental health like? What kind of choices was I making? I found my answers to be less than pleasant. I had been sluggish and fatigued leading up to that point. Procrastination was my go-to school strategy, and I was having a hard time finding motivation to do the things I loved.
Social media was a crutch for me. I discovered the time spent on my phone skyrocketed when I wasn’t feeling my best. Instead of working through my issues in a positive manner, I would escape to see what everyone else was doing and saying.
The thing is, though, I didn’t really want to see what everyone else was doing. Or at least it didn’t leave me feeling very good. I was seeing thousands of posts and pictures yet barely remembering any of it.
I did what I thought was best for myself and deleted all my social media apps off my phone. No Facebook, no Twitter, no Instagram. Cold turkey.
I still found myself doing a kind of habitual phone checking. My hand would grab my phone and my fingers would twitch to the place where my apps used to be without me even meaning to. That slowly stopped, but I was indicative of what a habit checking my apps had become. It was a subconscious reaction to stress or boredom.
And boredom did come. I suddenly had more hours on my hands. I had to actively seek out productive things to do with my time to fill the void my screen had left. I found myself reading more, exercising more, cooking more and even starting a whole new hobby. I felt good!
This is my advice to anyone reading: Detox from your phone.
And it really is a detox. It’s resetting your mind and body to a more natural state.
If we look through a historical lens, humans have never been this connected to each other on a large scale. We have never been so up in each other’s business. So, what kind of effects can this have on us?
There is a clear link between social media and mental health. Studies have shown a rise in depressive symptoms, increased suicide rates, decreased of face-to-face interaction and lower self-esteem (especially amongst females). FOMO, or “fear of missing out,” is a motivator for us to keep our social medias and to check them often. It seems many of us have grown attached to this new online lifestyle.
I would also recommend taking advantage of features on your smartphone like Do Not Disturb and time limits for apps. Maybe set specific times of the day where you’re allowed to check your phone. Or, go cold turkey and delete them completely.
Social media is a tool, but sometimes it feels like the tool is using us. Take control of your social media feeds! It’s not some evil entity in itself. But without caution, it can become a dark force in our lives fueling comparison and depression. Have a dialogue with yourself. Do you find yourself fixated on likes? Do you post things just for one certain person to see it? Could you be spending the time spent on your phone to do other, more meaningful things?
It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing and use that as a distraction from your own life. Taking a break from our screens is one of the best things we can do for our mental clarity and physical health. It puts more power in our own hands about how we want to spend our time and what we see. Monitor yourself and pay attention to how much time you’re spending in the digital world. Take time for you, not everyone you’re following.