With the approaching holiday season and all the overindulging that’s bound to happen, many people like to schedule a cleansing fast or detox diet into their New Year plans.
The positive effects on your health from a full body detox can be impressive. But did you know that a digital and social media detox can be just as necessary, and yield equally profound health benefits?
Technology improves our lives in many ways, and social media can be a good thing. But too much of anything can be harmful. Social media addiction is a real thing, and though it may be socially acceptable, it can have a significant negative impact on the quality of your life.
Social media is a psychological addiction, and tends to respond best to going cold-turkey rather than trying to cut back or wean off use.
How To Perform a Social Media Detox
To reap the many benefits of a social media detox, you’ll want to prepare ahead of time. Plan to be on the detox for anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months or longer.
Some steps you may want to take if you plan to do a full detox to break a social media addiction:
- temporarily deactivate your accounts;
- remove social media apps and notification pathways;
- block social media sites using a web filtering tool;
- have other activities ready to fill the void.
You will likely experience some withdrawal symptoms initially, such as an increased sense of urgency to check and respond to notifications, and a feeling of fear that you might be missing something important or entertaining.
After your detox, you can minimize the risk of relapsing into addictive patterns by scheduling and limiting your use of social media. You might limit yourself to a once a day, 1 hour visit to your favorite sites, for example, but then not look at social media of any kind for the rest of the day. This is also an effective strategy for anyone wishing to curtail their increasing use of social media before it becomes a full-blown addiction.
So why go through all this trouble at all? Here are 8 benefits to performing a social media detox:
Protect Your Privacy
Aside from general harassment from advertisers and spammers, hacked privacy as a result of social media background sharing can be a serious potential privacy risk. Cleaning up your social media history, and even go so far as deleting your apps and social media accounts is the only way to protect your privacy.
We all do it, and scientists have confirmed it; the more social media we use, the more we compare ourselves to the polished and perfect fake reality lives of everyone else we know of, including celebrities and all those ‘facebook friends’.
All this comparison leads to serious self-esteem issues, and can even lead to depression for some. Taking a break from social media gives you a chance to focus on and remember all the wonderful things in your own life.
Discourage Narcissism and Competition
This one goes hand in hand with the addictive qualities of social media. It’s easy to become obsessed with the rewards of ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘upvotes’, and get overtaken by chasing the applause and approval of others instead of being involved and interested in your own life and the lives of those around you.
Competing with others to gain more attention and popularity is not healthy, and can lead to depression and anxiety. By stepping away from social media regularly, you break this unhelpful cycle.
Improve Your Mood
It’s become fairly common knowledge that excessive social media and digital technology use is positively correlated with increased feelings of anxiety and depression.
Going offline, either as a break from social media or a hardline shutdown of all internet and gaming for a period of time, and replacing it with active pursuits and face-to-face social interactions can really help alleviate these feelings.
Get Better Sleep
Using technology in bed, or in the two hours prior to bedtime, can cause sleep pattern disruptions such as insomnia and difficulties falling and staying asleep. As it turns out, the artificial blue light from our smart phones, laptops and flatscreens suppresses the production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Shutting down and turning off any digital technology at least two hours before bed will help, and those suffering from recurring insomnia may well benefit from a complete digital detox.
Free Up Your Time
Did you know that the average person now spends on average almost two full hours a day just on their favourite social media sites and apps. That’s not including general browsing of the internet, gaming or other digital time wasters.
Think about what you could do with another two full hours of free time a day – perhaps working on a creative hobby, taking a brisk walk, or reading that new novel you’ve been putting off because you ‘just don’t have enough hours in the day’.
Learn Better Social Skills
One of the many lures of digital interactions and social media is that it makes it easier for those who struggle with in-person social interactions to connect virtually. At least that’s how it seems.
Unfortunately, people who spend a lot of time on social media in place of face-to-face interactions report feeling even more lonely and isolated in their real lives. Getting offline and venturing out into the real world will boost your mood, and give you some much-needed human contact.
Enjoy the Moment
The benefit of mindfulness, of being present to our lives in very moment, is becoming widely accepted by mainstream. By being in the moment, we experience increased peace and joy, and less stress and anxiety.
Living your life through the lens of social media – posting, updating and tweeting about everything you do while it’s actually happening instead of directly interacting with it – takes you out of the now, and lessens your ability to truly enjoy each experience.