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Ever since the invention of the smart phone, social media has become a big part of our lives. Not much keeps us from our constant pursuit of social media and its addictive hold over our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Around the world there are about 3.96 billion people who use social media, most of them spending an average of 144 minutes on it every day.

Recent studies suggest it may be beneficial to take a break from social media every once in a while. Since social media networking sites are known to lure you in and keep you in, it’s important to learn how to take a break from social media successfully and mindfully!

Why it’s important to take a break from social media

According to Doctor Neha Chaudhary, social media is a double-edged sword. On one end, it helps us stay connected with one another and combat loneliness (at least, in the immediate sense). On the other end, social media has been associated with cyberbullying, social comparison, and even depression as well as other phenomena that can be harmful for our health and well-being.

Engaging with friends via social media can be fast and convenient, but it limits our face-to-face interactions, which become less frequent the more we interact online. Social media may also cause feelings of stress, anxiety or depression if you are comparing yourself to the “perfect” lives many people portray to have on social media.

It is important to be conscious of how we use social media, or more so, how it uses or influences us. This includes knowing when it may be time to delete the app and cleanse from social media for a time being!

Signs you need a break from social media

5 signs to look out for that indicate it may be time for a social media detox:

  • It simply isn’t fun anymore. Social media sites are meant to be fun and enjoyable. If this is no longer the case and it isn’t a source of delight or connection, it may be time to take a break.
  • You start comparing yourself to others. If you find yourself comparing your life to the lives of those on social media, and that in turn makes you feel like you’re not good enough, pretty enough or successful enough, then it may be time to take a break. If you find yourself feeling worse after you’re on social media, then it’s doing more harm to your emotional well-being than good!
  • You find yourself doomscrolling. Ahhh, doomscrolling… It is when you find yourself mindlessly, and continuously, scrolling through social media sites for longer than you’d like to admit. Most of the time, you don’t realize you are doing it until a significant amount of time has passed and you’re still sitting in the same position.
  • It starts to transition from a "nice-to-have activity" to a "need-to-have activity." This is one of the more helpful rules of thumb for deciding whether to take a break from social media. If you are occasionally using it to stay connected or make your life more enjoyable, then it’s nice to have. But if you are using it as a coping mechanism for underlying anxiety, or if you feel uneasy after not checking social media for a while, then it's time for a cleanse.
  • It is the first thing you check in the morning and the last thing you check at night. One study shows that 80% of smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up. This habit has been linked to an increase in stress and anxiety. It is also shown that looking at your phone before bed stimulates your brain, making it more difficult to fall asleep.

Tips for taking a successful break from social media

So, you’ve decided to take a break from social media… now what?

  • Turn off notifications from social media platforms! When you get a notification of a “like” or “comment” on a post, it results in a release of dopamine. The positive dopamine rush can cause addictive feelings and it makes it extremely difficult to avoid social media. Turning off notifications will help you stick to your social media break. Tip: Delete the app(s) altogether, until you’re ready to re-download them.
  • Prioritize self-care activities. It can be especially helpful to replace your social media use with other activities that boost your mood and don’t require a phone. If you find yourself with the urge to use your phone, replace the urge with another healthy, rewarding activity such as setting up time to hangout with a friend, going for a walk, cooking your favorite meal or journaling for 15 minutes.
  • Use social media limiting apps. If you have an iPhone, you can track your screen time and set limits for certain social media platforms. Your iPhone has the ability to show you the percentage of usage compared to the week before. This can be a helpful way to cut down on the time you spend on social media since you will be able to see your progress every week.
  • Schedule a specific time to look at social media. When you decide to re-join your online community, re-integrate social media back into your life slowly by setting aside a specific time once a day or once a week to allow yourself to be on it. Maybe you can decide every Sunday, you’ll allow yourself time in the afternoon to see what your friends have been up to, or you can decide to check social media once a day for 10 minutes during lunch.
  • Put your phone across the room at night to avoid scrolling before bed. This will help to avoid the temptation to start scrolling if you can’t fall asleep. This will also aid in better sleep which will improve your overall mood, health, and combat other negative effects of excessive social media use, such as loneliness and feelings of isolation or FOMO (fear of missing out).

Overall, social media can be a fun and great way to stay in touch with friends! We also have to be conscious of how it affects our mood and everyday activities, as we spend time scrolling through our phones.

Ask yourself if social media is starting to feel more like a habit or chore, and less fun and enjoyable. Perhaps it’s time to take a cleanse for a while. Remember, it will still be there when you return, and it might even feel like a healthier and more enjoyable habit, after being away from it for a period of time. We encourage you to follow our tips to take better care of your mental and emotional well-being! We believe in you!

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