How To Successfully Take a Social Media Break This Holiday Season
Social media has opened up a world of discussions, connection, and updates. But for the average person, social media often has an overall negative effect on your stress and mental health.
You might lose hours of your day (or your precious sleep time) scrolling through your social media feeds. Or you might be using it as an escape, clicking over every time you don't want to do or think about something else. Many people find themselves feeling down after using social media but still can't get away.
When this happens, it's time to take a break. The holiday season is the perfect time to put down your phone, disconnect from your social feeds, and spend time just with those you truly know and love.
We know, it's tougher than it sounds. How do you stop yourself from clicking over to Instagram or TikTok without thinking? How do you avoid getting caught up in online drama and discussions with all your favorite people? How do you stop scrolling when it's taken over your life? Don't worry, you're not alone. With these tips, you can successfully take a break from your social media this holiday season and achieve that inner peace you need to face the next year of your life with mental health, energy, and focus.
Get Ready to Take a Break
A few preparation steps can really help you succeed at staying away from social media during your break. Most people can't, practically, break away entirely so make plans to minimize your exposure.
Change Your Status to "Social Media Hiatus"
Let your people know that you're taking a break. This can help reduce the messages and explain why you're not in on the latest selfie comment thread. Tell your in-person people that you're taking a break in person. Tell your online friends you won't be around for a while. Then change your status to "Social Media Hiatus" or something similar and amusing for your friends.
Now you've announced your intentions, you might as well really take that break and focus on your mental health.
Have the Phone Numbers of Everyone who Matters
For everyone you care about and talk to most, get their actual phone number. Send text messages and trade phone calls. Friends and family, coworkers and romantic interests - get their digits. Put them into your phone (and make a backup just in case). Then challenge yourself to send a text when you want to connect or send your love.
Turn Off Notifications
Make sure your phone doesn't chirp and your inbox doesn't fill up with social media stuff. Switch off notifications and when you go back, you can pick and choose which to turn back on.
Bookmark Important Pages
Instead of scrolling your feed, bookmark the pages of people or groups you want to follow specifically. You might need to keep track of a school's Facebook updates or be following your sister's storyline of baby pictures. So bookmark your way to these updates only so you don't wind up on your homepage.
Surviving the Social Media Detox
Social media is an addiction. The heady mix of FOMO, envy, humor, and relevant news actually interact with serotonin production in your brain. This means you will experience a real, if minor, chemical detox from the brain chemistry created by social media browsing. In other words, you may find yourself twitchy and craving your social media habits. Think of it as being hungry for social media. That's okay, we've all been there after a few hours without checking the updates.
The good news is that after a few days, the detox fades and you'll start to think clearly without the twitchy need to open your feed. Try these tips for those rough first few days on your hiatus.
Breathe Through the Urge
When you start to miss social media and want to click-over to your favorite feed, breathe through it. It's okay, everyone feels that way when taking a break. It's okay to have the urge and to resist that urge.
Take The Apps Off Your Homepage / Desktop / Bookmarks
You habitually click over to social media using specific shortcuts. Remove them. Take the app icons off your phone homepage and your computer desktop. Remove the bookmarks from your search bar and forget the history in your browser. Make your social media peeks worth the effort of consciously navigating.
Play Puzzle Games or Read a Thrilling Book
If you use social media to escape, find a new distraction. You'll still have the urge to check social media - often to avoid boredom, work, or unpleasant thoughts. Give yourself something else to do. If you need a twitch-focus distraction, try puzzle games. Math games like Sudoku are a short meditation that requires your focus to complete. A novel can take you somewhere else, but quietly in your own mind instead of being swept away in social media.
Partner with a Friend
Having an "accountability partner" can help you stick to your goals with your mental health care. You can take a break with a friend, supporting each other in not checking – and deciding when to check social media together. Or you can partner with someone not on hiatus so they can assure you nothing important has been missed recently.
Embrace the New Peace of Mind
Your social media break may have allowed you to reclaim your time and focus while deepening your personal relationships and improving your mental health. Really take time to luxuriate in the mental and emotional freedom of your social media break. Use this as a stepping stone to a more intentional, balanced, and centered approach in the future.
Establish "Phone Free Zones"
Some times and places don't need digital contacts. At the dinner table with family or soaking in a bath, there's no need for a phone. If you're not on-call, you can turn off your phone when you sleep and leave it in your bag at the gym. There are numerous times when your phone is just a temptation - and you'll check for real messages again soon in case of emergency. You can completely free yourself from the temptation or worry about social media by muting your phone and leaving it behind, or pocketed, at the right times.
Call the People Who Matter to You
Stay in touch with your favorite people. If you're an affectionate person, send positive texts. If you need conversation, actually call and have a talk. Or meet your people in a hosted video chat room. You can carry on fun chat conversations and coordinate plans with your people over the phone. Replacing social media with real contact can deepen your relationships and also spotlight how often you think about your nearest and dearest.
Remember not to let yourself feel isolated during your social media break. Stay in touch, just not through feeds, threads and tweets.
Put Time Toward Your Goals
One of the best ways to reward yourself for staying off social media is to meet your goals. Cross off those checklist items. Do something intentional with your social-media energy. You can even dive into a new language or a certification course, clicking over and studying a little instead of clicking over to social media.
Find Your Center and Rebuild Your Social Strategy
As your social media break comes to an end, take this opportunity to rebuild your habit into something more intentional. During your time away, find your center and clarify what really matters to you in the social media sphere. Now, you can choose which pages you visit and avoid the infinite scroll. Keep your phone-free zones and mental space that you gained during the hiatus.
Ready to take your social media break? Check out our session on Decluttering Social Media with Aspyn coach Shelby Taylor to help you get started.
If you need emotional wellness support to help you in your emotional journey, Aspyn Coaching is here to lend a hand. We provide on-demand video coaching sessions specifically designed for mental wellness.
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