How to Know if You Need a Break from Social Media

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What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you hit the snooze button? Stretch deeply? Or, do you grab your phone and check your Facebook notifications?

Do you get stuck in the scrolling time-suck? Is social media dominating your days?

If you find that it’s hard to go any significant length of time without checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever platform you love, it may be time to take a social media break.

That’s right, friend. I know. That can sound scary. Your social media might be how you stay connected and up-to-date in this world.

I get it. I know all too well the feeling of “needing to know what’s happening.” Or, “what am I missing?”

But if your screen time is taking up most of your day, you might want to think about taking a break from social medai, even if just for a little while.

Why Take a Break from Social Media?

There are several good reasons to take a break from social media. Here are just a few:

So you can focus more on what really matters.

Let me ask you a question. When you’re out at a restaurant with family or friends, what are you focused on most? The company you’re with? Or your phone?

If you’re a parent, are you missing the good stuff because you’re distracted by cat meme’s and your friend’s fab vacation?

Sometimes social media is such a distraction that you focus more on what is going on with others online more than what is going on in your own life.

You’ve seen this: families sitting in a restaurant, faces in their phones. They are so caught up in the scroll that they aren’t engaging with each other. 

No conversation. No interaction. Just faces down, fingers swiping. 

So you can remember what life is really like for everyone.

Let’s be honest, we know that all too often, someone’s social media feed is their highlight reel. You’re seeing the best moments. The posed moments. The carefully curated moments.

What you aren’t seeing is the real. The day-to-day. The nitty-gritty. And that’s okay. You don’t necessarily need to see that your friend’s cat pooped on the carpet or the stack of stressful bills piled on the kitchen counter.

Nobody wants to post about their latest spat with their spouse or how little Johnny is skating by with a C in Science.

And it’s perfectly fine to show the fun times and the pretty pictures. But just remember when you’re watching other’s online version of life…that’s it’s the online version. It’s not the whole picture.

So far too often, we get the sense that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Someone has a better life. A care-free and problem-free life.

And that’s just not true.

So taking a break from your Facebook and Instagram feeds is a good way to connect with reality and remember that life is not just what you see online.

To disconnect from the need for attention.

Admit it. You like the “likes.” Doesn’t everyone? That’s fine, as long as you aren’t living for the “likes.”

That’s another thing pitfall about social media if you’re not careful: Attention seeking.

Admittedly, I like social media engagement. It’s fun and I enjoy interacting.

But if you aren’t careful, that attention and approval-seeking can become too much of the focus. It’s not a good thing if you’re wrapping your self-esteem up in getting attention on social media.

Ask yourself this: When you share something, is it truly to share something fun or meaningful with friends and family? Or are you seeking something more?

To be more mindful in your daily life.

When you’re buried in your phone, or too busy posting and commenting to notice what’s going on around you, you miss out on life.

I remember years ago when I first created my Facebook account. As I added friends to my list, one of them commented, “Welcome to the time suck!”

I had no idea how true that would prove to be.

I can recall several times I’ve missed out on moments because of social media.

How many times did I hear my daughter say, “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” before I tore myself away from my phone.

I’ve missed entire segments of conversations amongst friends because I was too distracted by updates on things like Aunt Becky and the college scandal.

I’ve also missed out on special moments because I was too busy trying to capture the moment to make it a postable moment. Ugh!

Don’t miss out on the scent of the saltwater and the sound of the soothing ocean waves because you are trying to find the best angle of the palm tree for your Instagram shot.

To take your life back.

Social media can lead lead to oversharing. It’s not uncommon to find people spilling a bit too much about personal situations, events, and feelings.

When you’re sitting behind a screen, it’s easy to forget how many eyes are on your status updates.

Over the years, I’ve learned to temper my opinions and experiences. Not everything needs to be shared. Everyone has a different level of tolerance and vulnerability. You might be more of a sharer. Or you might be more private.

Just be sure you aren’t putting too much out there.

How Do You Know if You Need a Social Media Break?

Only you can decide if and when you need a social media break. But here are some indicators:

You’re stressed out or irritable when you’re away from your phone and can’t check updates or see what’s happening.

Your spouse, partner, or child gets frustrated when trying to talk to you because you aren’t really listening. Instead, you are scrolling.

You compare yourself, your family and your life to what you see online. You feel bad about yourself or your life when you see what others are up to, how they look, what they have, etc. Or, you feel envy.

FOMO. When you are away from your account, you feel like you’re missing something or missing out.

You get lost in the feed. Meaning, a considerable amount of time slips by and you find you’ve been scrolling mindlessly for a considerable amount of time while you could have been doing something productive or meaningful.

How to Take a Break from Social Media

You can take a long break or just a brief one. You can simply cut back your social media time, or go cold turkey and get rid of all of it.

And you can decide which social media platforms you want to break from. It may be one or it may be all. Only you can decide what kind of break you need.

Here are some tips for stepping back.

  • Set “phone-free zones” in your home or during certain events. You might make your dining area and bedroom a phone-free zone. Or you might set certain events as phone-free zones, like dinner time, family outings, and social gatherings.
  • Remove social media app(s) from your device so you aren’t tempted to quickly take a peek when you aren’t supposed to be online.
  • If you decide to simply limit your social media time rather than go completely dark, outline the amount of time you will allow yourself to be online. Set limits for when you have your phone on you. Put your phone away or out of reach during designated times of the day.
  • Turn off notifications.
  • Fully deactivate your profile if you want to take a complete break. (This isn’t the same as deleting your profile. If you deactivate on Facebook, your profile, status, friends, etc. are still there when you come back.)
  • Let people know you are taking a break so they won’t wonder what happened if they reach out to you on social media and don’t get a response. 

The Benefits of a Social Media Break

More Mindfulness

Disconnecting from the online world will help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and being present in the moment. Even just limiting your social media time can create more mindfulness in your life.

More Movement

When you’re online, you’re likely more sedentary. Getting offline will give you more freedom to get up and move around, whether it’s exercise or just getting out more.

More Awareness

Disconnecting also gives you the opportunity to experience what is actually going on around you. Notice your surroundings. People, places, and things. You’ll be more engaged and present.

More Self-Awareness

Getting out of the scroll suck gives you more time and focus to learn about yourself. What do you enjoy doing? What are some new hobbies you can try or things you can learn?

You will become more in tune with yourself instead of what is going on in the online world.

Create a Social Media Break that Works for You

Social media is a great thing. Done right, social media can create connections and community. It can keep people in touch, provide resources and updates, and let’s face it, it’s fun.

And while very few people are actually addicted to social media, it does tend to infiltrate our lives in a big way.

If you think you would benefit from a social media break, don’t be afraid to try it. Remember, you can devise a break that works for you.

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