7 Steps for How to Stop Social Media from Ruling your Life

When I think of the word detox, I picture chugging down a bright green smoothie or going to a spa to sit in a sauna. But for a social media detox, you don’t need a spa or a smoothie. Just a determination to learn how to stop social media from ruling your life.

Deciding to do the social media detox is the first step, and this article covers the rest: how to take a break from social media. No sweating or chugging smoothies required. 

Are you in?

Smart young woman staying away from social media and lying on cozy couch and reading interesting book in own room.Intelligent hipster girl holding smartphone in hand and enjoying new bestseller in free time relaxing on sofa in flat

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How to Stop Social Media

What is a Social Media Detox?

 A social media detox is the result of staying away from social media or taking a break from social media for an extended period of time. The purpose of a social media detox is to break away from the a social media addiction and reclaim time, rest, and more stable emotions. 

While you may not think you have a social media addiction, you can still face the addictive nature of social networks. Even that requires a digital detox.

I’m not crazy or anti-technology. In factI’m a millennial and young professional who is navigating the adulting struggle. I’ve found that staying off of social media has improved my quality of life and these seven tips have helped me do that. 

When I did my first social media detox, I started out with a semester of college, which was equivalent to about four months. I chose to do a social media detox for the semester because my semester was busy, and I needed to be more selective with how I spent my time.

But—it does get easier. Once I logged out of my Facebook account in college, I realized how easy it was to live without it. I thought I would miss all of the notifications and updates, but after a while, I would forget to even go on Facebook.

You may call that wishful thinking. But with these steps on how to take a break from social media and my 7 keys to success, you’ll be better equipped to do your own social media cleansing. 

These steps are easy, simple and won’t cost you any money. They have been tested and proven by yours truly. 

#1 Set Goals and Do a Feelings Assessment

Write down on a piece of paper why you want to do this social media detox.

Is it because you want to realize one of the above benefits of staying off social media? Is it because navigating the adulting struggle is a lot for you right now, and you could use a little less noise in your life? Perhaps your job is insane in this season, and you just need to reclaim more time for yourself and self care.

Whatever it is, write down the goal and put down the why. Then, do a quick assessment of your feelings, specifically how you feel when you use social media or what you feel that prompts you to get on social media. Both can be helpful for determining why a social media cleanse may be helpful. Here’s an example from my own life: 

My goal is to stop going on Instagram everyday because Instagram gives off the impression that all of my friend’s lives are perfect. This makes me compare myself to them and leaves me feeling discontent and unhappy. 

Now whether you’re doing a 30 day no social media challenge or simply limiting the amount of time you spend on social media, you know your goal and why you’re trying to accomplish it. Moving forward, when you feel like going on social media or ignoring your time limit, you can look back at this piece of paper and remember why you’re taking a break from social media.

#2 Choose Your Approach: Start Small or Quit Cold Turkey

Now that you have a goal and a why, you can choose an approach.

  1. Start Small: The idea of this approach is to cut the time you spend on social media little by little. 
    1. First, start with the weakest link. Assess all the social media you use. More than likely, there will be one social media platform you use the least. Cut that one first.
    2. Next, start tracking the amount of time you spend on each remaining platform. Some smartphones have this capability built in. 
    3. After observing for a week, set an app time limit for each social media app. You should be able to do this in the parental controls area of your device. The limit should be close to how you already use the app (which you observed in the previous step).
    4. Every week, continue reducing the time limit for each platform by 5-10 minutes. 
    5. Continue to repeat the previous step until you get to your goal or to zero. Set a new goal for yourself weekly and track your progress.
  2. Quit Cold Turkey: This is the simplest approach, but also the most difficult depending on your social media usage. 
    1. First, stop using all social media.
    2. Second, continue to repeat the previous step until the end of your social media detox.

#3 Turn Off Social Media Notifications

Though you may have to go dumpster diving in the settings section of the social media platforms, you can turn off push notifications. Why is this helpful?

Notifications interrupt you with a seemingly “urgent message” to get you back into the app or on the website. But actually, these messages and status updates aren’t urgent. They can be read later, and most of them require no action on your part. 

For example, on Instagram when someone likes your picture, you receive a notification. But are you going to immediately send that person a direct message to say, thanks for liking my photo? No!

All of these notifications are informational at best, not urgent account activity. But they make us feel like we are missing something, and so we hop on to the social media apps pronto. Two hours later…you know how it goes.

Instead, turn off your notifications so you can control when you open the social media sites. It may feel lonely at first, as if no one is looking at or commenting on your pages and posts. But they are. You just aren’t getting interrupted. 

You are choosing when you want to see account activity.

Steps #1-3 for how to stop social media from running your life focus on helping you break away from social media. There are a lot of behaviors and habits we all have around social media, and those keys to success will help you break the cycle so you can start your detox.

But now that you’ve started the social media detox, how do you keep it going? Once you’re on your social media break, here’s how to stay off by breaking your social media habits.

#4 Delete the Social Apps from your Phone

Our phones are with us all the time. They make it easier for us access these apps and that much harder to take a break from social media. You can combat that by:

  1. Deleting the apps off of your phone, and
  2. Delete the websites from your bookmarks and home screen
  3. Logging out of the social media sites on your computer.

What does deleting social media do for you?

By deleting social media apps, you are making it hard to access those platforms. One of the reasons why social media is addictive is its accessibility. When the apps are on your phone, social media is at your fingertips. 

But If you delete the social media apps or log out on the web browser, then it makes it harder to use social media. When you get the urge, these barriers force you to slow down and rethink why you’re getting online. This is when you pull out your goal and your why to motivate you to continue your break from social media. 

Suddenly, downloading the app or logging back in seem like a lot of work for little to no return.

#5 Use Other Ways to Stay Connected

A very positive use of social media is staying connected. When you do a social media detox, you’ll want to find other ways to stay connected with family and friends. 

You can stay connected by using:

  1. Phone Calls 
  2. Video Calls
  3. Text messaging
  4. Letters
  5. Face to Face meetings (dinner, lunch, coffee, walk in the park, day at the pool, etc.)

Consider the benefits of staying off of social media and finding ways to connect with others outside of the digital world. It’s almost impossible to spend quality time with friends and family when we’re constantly looking at our phones for new notifications or scrolling through social media feeds. In fact, it gives off the impression that we’re too busy to pay attention to the other person or that they’re not as important as whatever or whoever is blowing up our phone.

#6 Find Other Things to Do, Especially to Unwind

Instead of thinking of a social media cleanse as taking time away from social media, focus on the fact that you gain more free time by having less screen time. Spend that free time doing something you love, like a hobby. You could also:

It’s no secret that social media can provide a “false calm,” where we get to turn our brains off and mindlessly scroll. However, scrolling through social feeds rarely  makes us feel better and can actually have a negative impact on  mental health (see MIT Sloan Management article, particularly for outcomes on young adults). 

All our problems are still there afterward, and if we’ve played the social comparison game or gotten offended by something we thought someone meant online, we’re more stressed than before. That’s why finding different ways to unwind and relax can replace the “false calm” with a “real calm” that social media can’t provide.  

Sometimes the best ways to combat problematic social media use is to find something else to fill your time.

#7 Do it with a Buddy

Lastly, ask around and see if there is a family member, friend, or fellow young professional that will join you on your social media detox challenge. As friends, you can also pick up a new hobby to fill your spare time.

Having a friend doing the social media cleanse with you will motivate you, provide accountability, and encourage you when you feel like giving up. 

Remember, we all probably originally got on social media to connect with others. And I assure you, you can still find that connection outside of the social media platforms. 

Download a Reminder for How to Stop Using Social Media

To help you remember the 7 keys to success for a social media detox, download this free printable with the 7 keys. Send it to your friend who you’re roping into the detox or put it on your phone as a screensaver to remind you of the cause. Time to break free from social media.

FAQ for How to Stop Social Media Use

Now that you know the key steps for how to stop social media use, I hope you’re pumped up and ready to give a social media detox a try. Here are some common questions about decreasing social media use. 

Is social media toxic?

Social media is a great tool. It allows us to stay connected with new people we meet, old friends, and family who are far from us. Through social media, you can explore topics of interest with other social media users. However, as with any tool, social media can also have negative effects, especially when we spend a lot of time on it. It all depends on how we use the tool. 

Personally, while social media gives me a boost of excitement or happiness when I get a notification, it also leaves me empty and isolated when the notification bell isn’t ringing over the social media icon. 

I’ve also noticed that social media has negative consequences for me. It sucks up my extra time, fosters an environment where I’m constantly comparing myself to others, and leaves me anxious and unhappy. 

Is it OK to take a break from social media?

It is most certainly OK to take a break from social media. Because social media is so widely popular, it may seem like when person stops using social media, they would  miss out on something. But quite the opposite. 

You’ll be able to enjoy the things happening in the present, the people you meet, and the friends and family nearby. Taking a break from social media provides focus and boosts productivity, too. 

When we take a break from social media accounts, we are reminded of its original intent—a tool to help us stay connected to friends and families. And we can find ways to do that without social media platforms. 

How long does it take to detox from social media?

The length of a social media detox depends on your goals for the detox. If you simply want to gain some perspective, a short social media detox, like a week or two, may be enough time. However, some people may be trying to instill new habits around social media. In that case, three weeks to 30 days is a better length.

Bottom line: the more ingrained the behavior you’re trying to change, the longer time you’ll need for the social media detox. 

But—it does get easier. Once I left Facebook in college, I realized how easy it was to live without it. I thought I would miss all of the notifications and updates, but after a while, I would forget to even go on Facebook.

Wishful thinking? With these steps on how to take a break from social media and my 7 keys to success, you’ll be better equipped to do your own social media cleansing.

Is a social media detox good?

No matter your social media usage, a social media detox can help you take back control of your time and your emotions. The break from social media provides many benefits that allow you to spend more meaningful time with friends and family and less time worrying about notifications. It is also a great way to reclaim time in your personal life, reduce phone usage, and try some new things with the reclaimed time.

A social media detox may be what you need to make navigating the adulting struggle easier. Take a break from constantly comparing yourself to others and have more time to spend on things you enjoy.

And now that you know how to stop social media use, I won’t be offended if you don’t follow Kara J Lovett Co. on all the social media accounts. I want you to enjoy your social media detox and realize all the benefits of staying off social media. Instead, join the email list to stay up to date on posts from KJL. Better yet, just go outside. Without social media, the world is now your oyster. 

How do you detox from social media?

Leave me a comment below!

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