Grande isn’t the only high-profile celebrity to go on a social media detox: Selena Gomez also announced her social media departure last month, and celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Ed Sheeran, and Leslie Jones have all temporarily pulled the plug on their platforms.This week, singer Ariana Grande announced that she was taking a social media hiatus, in light of her broken engagement to comedian Pete Davidson.
The truth is, stepping away from social media on a regular basis is a healthy ritual for all of us to practice, and not exclusively recommended during moments of transition, vulnerability, heightened anxiety, or crisis.
I spoke with Larissa May, mental health advocate and founder of the social media platform, #HalfTheStory, about the importance of regular social media breaks, the signs that it’s definitely time to log off, and how to take those first steps.
4 Reasons Why A Social Media Hiatus Is Critical
It helps you set boundaries. In Ariana Grande’s case, it bears mentioning that she’s also still dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety after last year’s Manchester attack, as well as the recent death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller.
For many of us, social media can feel like an anxiety-fueled space, and it’s up to us to decide when to turn it off and not let the negativity seep into our personal space. Shutting off the noise on social media by taking a break can be the healthiest boundary you set for yourself , which is the ultimate form of self-care.
It helps you stay focused on your goals. Stepping away from social media ensures that you keep your eyes on your prize. This means no wasted energy thinking about others’ comments and who viewed your latest Instagram Story.
Now scrolling aside, what about all the time spent plotting your next post? It will be refreshing to do things that feel good just for you, rather than doing them for the ‘gram.
It helps you reclaim your time. With Apple iOS 12’s “Screen Time” feature, you can track your social media usage. I’m currently using this tool and discovered that I could have likely read Steve Jobs’ biography in the time I spent scrolling Instagram last week. So if you’re complaining about having zero time to go for a run or get to inbox zero, don’t give into social media’s procrastination pull.
It helps you reconnect and come back stronger. Selena Gomez included this message in her “going offline” Instagram caption: “Update: taking a social media break. Again. As much as I am grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, I am equally grateful to be able to step back and live my life present to the moment I have been given. Kindness and encouragement only for a bit!”
Use this time to reconnect and upgrade a social media relationship to a real-life interaction, whether it’s a phone call or coffee date. Plan a night out with a friend you’ve been exchanging DMs with. Distract yourself with other “guilty pleasures” or self-care routines, like taking a day to recharge at the museum or catch a foreign film.
Now this part is key: Dr. Lauren Hazzouri, psychologist, speaker and champion for girls and women, reminds us that during a social media detox, you need to do the inner work. “The reality is that it’s not all or nothing, and social media isn’t going away anytime soon. So how you use your time during a social media detox to deal with the issues offline, is key to ensuring you’re no longer triggered when you see a post online.”
So when it comes to comparing yourself to others, for example, be clear about your goals and do the self-work IRL to come out confident; it will help curb the anxiety that the Instagram comparison game creates.
Social media is an open forum for people to post their accomplishments, aha moments and big wins, and it will never stop being this. Equip yourself with the proper tools to ensure you’re not susceptible to triggers when you do log back on.
Signs it might be time to take a social media break:
Larissa May offers up this self-check list to monitor when and if it’s time for you to log off:
– Do you feel physical urges to be on social media?
– Do you feel a sense of anxiety from not being able to access social media?
– Do you feel low and unworthy after scrolling through your feed?
-Do you spend more than two hours a day on social media?
– Do you spend more time on social media interacting with others than you do IRL?
– Do you retreat to social media while feeling down? (A note about this: FOMO is natural and you might even scroll your feeds knowing it creates sad and jealous feelings, in a sadistic way. It’s important to recognize this habit and be aware that you’re doing it, to work on avoiding this habit.)
5 Ways To Try A Social Media “Lite” Detox
So can you cut your social media usage, cold turkey?
May explains: “Research has found that technology addiction is similar to any other type of addiction. The rush and excitement that you feel after posting a photo is a neurochemical known as dopamine, or the ‘reward molecule.’ Dopamine is typically released after physical activity and hugs, but now social media is a large source of dopamine, creating a sense of belonging through likes, shares and notifications. Like any addiction, it’s almost impossible to go cold turkey and you should treat it as such.”
May shares these five steps:
Curb The Urge: Remove your notification alerts and group your social media apps into folders to make them more difficult to access.
Leave Your Phone At Home: When you first start limiting your social media use it can feel limiting and create feelings of anxiety. Challenge yourself to leave your phone at home while running errands or exercising, to create a safe space without access to social media.
Create Phone-Free Zones: Make mindfulness a habit by creating a space for your phone to charge outside of your bedroom. The blue light before bed can inhibit sleep, eyesight, and impact your mental state.
Sleep On Airplane Mode: If this is a possibility for you, turn on airplane mode before you go to bed, so that you won’t see notifications first thing in the morning. By creating a ritual that incorporates more “you time,” it will be easier for you to break the social media habit.
Start With Weekends Off: Sign out of all social media apps first thing Saturday morning to curb the craving. Monitor how you feel by Sunday night and resist the urge to log on until Monday.
And as a final reminder: don’t worry about missing anything on social during your break. All the inspiration and connections you need are all around you: it’s simply time you looked up and noticed it all.