Addicted? We get it. How (and why) to take a break from social media

If the thought of quitting Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat gives you anxious palpitations, maybe it’s time to do just that.

By its very nature, social media is addictive. We are generally social creatures who seek validation and don’t like missing out. Around the clock, social media keeps us feeling connected – and we like that.

We like it a lot. As Forbes magazine recently pointed out: “There are over two billion Facebook users worldwide; about 500 million tweets are sent daily on Twitter; 95 million images are uploaded to Instagram daily; and on YouTube, over 400 hours of video are uploaded per minute.”

For all of the great things about social media, research is beginning to highlight the downsides of using it too much, which include stress, anxiety, depression, disturbed sleep and low self-esteem.

So, it may be worth washing your hands of it for a while. Here, we offer five tips on how to go about it and come back stronger than ever.

Give yourself a time limit
You’re unlikely to give up social media forever, and we all know that abstaining from anything is made easier if you know when you’ll be allowed to indulge again.

Let the important people know you’re on a detox
If you fear being out of the loop while you undergo your social-media cleanse, make sure that enough people know they must ring (yup, that will entail a real conversation) or email you to get in touch.

Cancel your notifications and remove the offending apps from your phone
Your best-laid plans will surely go awry if you are still tempted by messages on your screen and constant pings from your phone.

Fill your newfound free time with pleasing alternatives
Line up some brilliant offline reading; make steadfast plans with friends; try out a new exercise regime; check in with radio or TV news each day.

Keep your eyes on the prize
A break from social media will reset your habits; when you return to the scene, you’ll be more circumspect about what you share and enjoy a more balanced relationship with technology. It will feel great, we promise.

December 2018