Take a Social Media Break

It’s not uncommon to reach for your smartphone when you find yourself trying to pass the time. You might even be checking your phone while doing something else, worried about the “fear of missing out.” According to a study by the American Psychological Association, 43 percent of Americans consider themselves “constant checkers,” logging in to their multiple social media accounts to see if anything is going on. But all of this “constant checking” might be causing us a lot of unnecessary stress. If you’re looking for one way to decrease your stress levels this Monday, try getting off of your phone!

Thanks to apps and growing acceptance of social media as a nearly natural way of life, about 81 percent of Americans have at least one social media account; the worldwide number of users may even be over two billion. When the APA says that nearly half of those users are “constant checkers,” that could be nearly one billion people who can’t stop scrolling through their newsfeeds to see what’s happening in the news and what their friends, family, and fellow users are doing. All that scrolling has been shown to make people feel the need to keep up appearances on their own profiles. There is an element of self-consciousness that comes with a steady feed of happy, pretty images; increased time on social media contributes to a rise in anxiety and depression and negative body image.

The same APA survey showed that 35 percent of constant checkers say they are “less likely to spend time with family and friends because of social media.” Some of this is due to the current political and cultural climate, which 42 percent of constant checkers say is their main source of stress. But the whole purpose of social media is to give users the feeling of being connected – and if they’ve connected through their phone and seen every detail of their friends’ lives, why catch up in person?

If you are the kind of person who can limit their time on social media without much effort, you may be an exception to the norm. Only 28 percent of users who think they need a digital detox actually take the break they need. But taking a break from social media – or even quitting it altogether – is something that will reduce your stress levels and help you live in the moment rather than in a manufactured digital world. Here are a few quick tips:

Set a timer. If you need your phone to tell you to get off, set a timer or an alarm so you don’t end up scrolling for a long time.

Make guidelines for yourself. Take note of your social media habits and aim to fix them. Do you check your phone first thing in the morning? Don’t keep your phone next to your bed.

Start with short breaks. Monday is a perfect day to take your first full day off. You can announce that you’ll be back on Tuesday, or you can take a full week and return next Monday. Or recommit to your break and take another week off!  

Deactivate before deleting. If you don’t want to quit cold turkey, many accounts will let you deactivate your account until you sign back in. Your profile will be there when – or if – you’re ready to come back.

If you find yourself getting too caught up in the digital world, consider the real world – also known as “IRL,” or “in real life” – as an alternative this Monday.