Habits,  Happy Life

How to Do a Social Media Detox the Right Way

Can’t stop scrolling and checking your social media? Feel like it’s taking over your life? Here’s how to do a social media detox the right way. The way you use social media will never be the same anymore afterwards, I promise!

I always told myself my social media usage wasn’t that bad. I really wasn’t spending that much time on social media. At least that’s what I thought, until I had a look at my screen time.

Euhm, all right, I guess I’m a little addicted maybe….

So my husband challenged me to take a social media break. He’d encouraged me to do it before, but I never managed to follow through with it. But he was right, it was time for me to finally break up with my social media addiction.

I can tell you, it truly changed the game for me. And once I started to feel the benefits, I couldn’t imagine going back to how I was using social media before.

Since you’re here reading this, I assume you’re a little (just a tiny bit ;)) addicted to social media. You probably know it’s time for a detox (even if you’re still in denial about it), but you have no idea where to start and how to make it last. Or perhaps you’ve even tried to take a social media break a couple of times before, but never really managed to make it last for longer than a few hours.

Well, lucky you!

Because I’m about to share my best tips with you so that you can make your social media detox work for you this time around and do it the right way!

Analyze Your Social Media Habits

Before you start your detox, I want you to have a good look at your current social media habits. This helps to figure out what you want to accomplish with your detox.

You can ask yourself the following questions to begin with:

  • How much time do you spend on social media per day?
  • Which platforms do you use the most?
  • Why are these platforms so attracting to you and what do/don’t you like about them?
  • How do these platforms make you feel?
  • What are you getting out of the time you’re spending on social media?
  • Which platforms do you want to stop using (or use less) and why?
  • Which platforms would you like to continue using and why?
  • Do you want to use these platforms in a different way that you’re currently using them and how?

You might realize that you don’t like using some of the platforms or that they make you feel bad about yourself. And maybe you want to continue using certain platforms, but only for a certain kind of purpose.

For example, I noticed that I was using Facebook and Instagram the most. But I came to the conclusion that I didn’t even like Facebook (A lot of negativity, useless facts, advertisements etc.). And I liked Instagram, but too often it made me feel bad about myself. With regards to YouTube, I love how it provides access to so much free knowledge, so I didn’t want to stop using it. However, I did want to use it less for entertainment purposes.

Perhaps it’s similar for you.

Dive in deep and figure it out, so that you can move on to the next (and most important) step.


Delete the Apps Off Your Phone

Yes, it’s that simple.

If you want to do it right, this is really the only way. I know what you’re thinking: Janine, is this really necessary…? 

Yes it is, if you ask me. Only relying on willpower to break the habit can work for a couple of days. But then you forget once and fall back into your old behavior. Believe me, I’ve tried. And it’s the exact reason why my social media breaks never lasted longer than a few hours.

So, go ahead and delete those apps!

Now, don’t try to be smart and think you can just put your phone in a different room without deleting the apps to combat your social media addiction. It doesn’t work that way (Yup, I’ve tried that too…). That’s because even though the cue (your phone) is not there, you haven’t taken away the reward (social media). So you can still walk to the other room to get your phone and check your social media. 

Believe me when I say you will (speaking from experience here :)).

Now that you’ve deleted the apps, you’re off to a good start! But….

Be Careful Not to Compensate

After deleting the apps of my phone, I noticed that I would still grab my phone to check my socials. I thought I just needed some time to get used to the fact that I didn’t have any social media apps on my phone anymore, but I kept doing it.

Even worse, I began to compensate the deleted apps by checking other (social media) apps. I would unlock my phone, realize the apps I was looking for weren’t there, then go for another app instead.

That’s when I realized that the habit of checking your social media, also comes with the habit of grabbing your phone.

Compensating with other social media apps is something you should be aware of. If you notice it, you can delete those other apps as well, but that probably won’t hold you back from grabbing your phone if it’s in your sight. It’s such an automatic behavior and you can’t help yourself from picking up your phone, even though you know there’s nothing on there to check anymore.

Your phone is the trigger for you to check social media. And it will take a while for you to get used to the fact that the trigger is not followed by a reward (social media).

That’s why in the beginning I made sure to put my phone in a different room. Especially when I wanted to work on something and had to concentrate (when I’d typically procrastinate by picking up my phone). When your phone’s not around, there’s also no trigger to grab it and check anything (and no possible compensating behavior). 

It takes time getting used to not having your phone around. But after a while it gets easier and that’s when you know you’re really doing your social media detox the right way.

Find an Alternative

Since you aren’t spending hours scrolling anymore, you should suddenly have a lot of extra time available. Find something to do with that extra time or during the time you were normally using social media!

Is there something you always say you want to do, but that you never seem to have time for? Well, now’s the time to finally do it!

Read more books? Declutter the house? Do something creative? Or build a business (heck, why not! I certainly had a lot of extra time to work on my blog).

Were you using social media in the morning before getting out of bed? Now you can use that time to get up earlier and squeeze in a morning workout or to eat your breakfast in peace.


The Next Step

If you’re coming to the end of your detox, I want you to consider what it has done for you.

How do you feel? Do you really miss social media? Or were you more addicted to the habit of picking up your phone and scrolling?

Now that you’ve experienced the benefits of not using social media for a while, you can use it more intentionally going forward. You can slowly start to build up your social media usage again in a way that you feel comfortable with.

After your detox, it’s up to you to decide how you’d like to continue using (or not using) social media. You may decide to re-install some of the apps back on your phone, but leave other ones off.

Here are some other things you can do to use your social media more intentionally after your detox:

  • Only use social media when you want to post something (this is what I’m currently doing and I love it!)
  • Only install the apps on a tablet or use a webbrowser to access your social media, to prevent automatically grabbing your phone and mindless scrolling.
  • Set a time limit for yourself to regulate your daily social media usage.

Just one more thing…

You now have all the tools you need to do a social media detox the right way. There are really no excuses anymore to keep putting it off.

I know that it can be difficult in the beginning not to check social media. It may feel like you’re missing out on something or you have no clue what to do instead. But all beginnings are uncomfortable and it gets better. For me, it actually became easier not to use social media, once I really started to feel the benefits.

You might be wondering how long your social media detox should last?

Well, that’s up to you really. You can start with a week to see how that works for you and then continue for a month, for example.

And when you feel like you’re ready to return to social media, you can do so with more awareness and intention and on your own terms.


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