7 Steps to Complete a Social Media Detox

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A few months ago, I realized I needed to change something in my life. 

I cared way too much about the likes on my social media posts and checking my Facebook feed was all I looked forward to. I was even comparing myself and my life more and more to the perfect people and perfect lives I saw on social media. 

Is this you? Can you relate?  If you think “yes,” you need a social media detox. NOW!  

But how do you take a break from social media? I’ve got all the details for you in this article, from what is a detox from social media and benefits of such a detox… to the questions to ask yourself if you aren’t sure you need one. I’ll also make sure to include the steps you need to take for a social media break.

What Is a Social Media Detox? 

When an individual voluntarily stops using social media, they are doing a social media detox. Like a detox diet, where you cleanse your body by getting rid of toxins, rest your organs, and improve circulation, a social media cleanse is meant to improve your mental health, put you in control of your digital habits, and clarify your view of reality.   

When you detox from social media, you don’t engage with social media at all. This means you don’t post any photos, write updates about your life, or scroll through your feed. 

How long you detox from social media depends on you. The most common period for a social media cleanse is 30 days, but you can detox for 7 days, 90 days, or even a full year (or longer). You can start with a shorter detox if the whole detox idea is too intimidating and then increase the detox length. 

When I detoxed from my social media accounts, I decided on a 90-day cleanse. This is how long it takes for a new habit to become a permanent lifestyle change. I badly needed to not feel addicted to scrolling; a healthier habit seemed to be in order. 

Benefits of Detoxing from Social Media 

There are various benefits to taking a break from using and consuming social media. 

A social media cleanse

  • Gives you more free time as you can now focus on other tasks and activities instead of creating content, stalking celebrities or family members, or mindlessly scrolling 
  • Decreases your anxiety as you’ll (eventually) stop comparing yourself to others and the social media clutter in your life will be no more 
  • Gives you a better start to your day since you may have started your morning by checking your social media accounts 
  • Lets you be more mindful as you realize how much mental real estate space scrolling and jumping from one social media app to another took up 
  • Helps you conquer #FOMO, the fear of missing out, after you’ve gone through the withdrawal symptoms when you stop using social media (by the way, did you know that social media was created to be as addictive as crack?)    
  • Lets you stop obsessing over the past since you will no longer be stalking your ex or their new love interest or looking at old posts   
  • Helps you to live in the moment as you can actually enjoy a happy or funny moment instead of fretting about taking a photo or thinking about the perfect caption to write when you posted about life occurrences 
  • Reconnects you with the real world when you realize that no one actually cares about your social media posts (other than to have news to gossip over) and you can connect with people for real 
  • Helps you sleep better as you won’t be glancing at your phone before your head hits the pillow (or while you lie in bed), and you’ll minimize your exposure to blue light before bedtime 
  • Limits your exposure to fake news as you can rather check out authority news sites to stay up to date with world happenings 

How Do I Know It’s Time for a Social Media Detox? 

I asked myself the following questions when I was considering a detox, and I was horrified by the answers. I knew I needed a change and social media cleanse ASAP!  

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When you detox from social media, you don’t engage with social media at all.

Ask yourself these questions if you aren’t sure you need a break from social media. 

  • Do you find yourself unable to wait for a new like, reaction, or comment on your post? 
  • Do the reactions (or lack thereof) on your posts make or break your day
  • Do you feel more confident the more likes or loves your posts have? 
  • Do you measure your worth by the likes you get on your posts? 
  • Do you feel like a failure, incomplete, or inadequate if you haven’t posted anything in a (short) while? 
  • Do you feel like there’s something missing from your morning, afternoon, and/or evening if you haven’t logged into your social media accounts? 
  • Do you see the people on social media as your real friends, or more as your friends than you do your real, in-person friends? 
  • When something happens in your life, do you just think about taking the perfect photo and what you’ll write in your post? Or do you genuinely live in and enjoy the moment? 
  • Do you tap to open your social media app as soon as a notification appears on your PC or phone? 
  • Is social media the first thing you do and think of in the morning, and the last thing you do and think of before bedtime? 
  • Do you reach for your phone and social media apps when you wake up during the night? 
  • Do you feel anxious or stressed when you can’t check your phone and social media accounts (like when you are mid-flight or in a meeting)? 
  • Do you feel depressed, generally blue, or angry after you’ve been on social media? 
  • Are you compelled to check social media every few minutes or every few hours? 
  • Do you stay up late to zombie-like scroll through your Facebook feed? 
  • Do you have trouble concentrating if you can’t check your social media accounts and “multitask”?   

7 Steps to Completely Detox from Social Media 

Beyond ready for that social media break? Here are the steps you need to follow to detox from social media and be a happy, healthier you: 

Step #1. Turn off Notifications 

It isn’t easy to quit using and consuming social media cold turkey. If you feel brave, go for it. But it might be a good idea to wean yourself off social media platforms. 

So step 1 involves turning off the notifications you get regarding social media on your PC and the push notifications or alerts you get on your smart devices

Hearing that “ping” lets you know there’s something happening on social media or something new to check out, which is one of the reasons we are so addicted to social media. (Heaven forbid you miss out on something, right?) 

But if you don’t hear a ping, you won’t get distracted from what you are busy with and feel compelled to check out the notification. You’ll have more control over what you do on your phone. 

Step #2. Share Your Detox 

Next, tell the people you love and your online tribe (or followers) that you are taking a break from social media. This way, they won’t worry when you fall off the digital map. 

It’s also an accountability step – you wouldn’t want to disappoint your loved ones, so you may be more motivated to stick to your social media break. 

Step #3. Uninstall Social Media Apps 

Next, you need to delete your social media apps from your smart devices. You can move the apps from your home screen to a folder. This way, it’ll take extra effort to go find the apps and hopefully the “out of sight, out of mind” adage will work. 

But it’s best to just delete the apps since you won’t be going on social media during your detox. (And reinstalling the apps when you are ready to use social media again is easy.)   

Step #4. Block Social Media Sites 

Don’t think you are smart and that I forgot about how you use social media on your PC. 

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Block access to your social media site on your laptop and pc.

You need to block access to your social media sites (and new ones too in case you get tempted) on your laptop and desktop computer.  

Step #5. Find a Social Media Detox Buddy 

Another way to stay accountable is to find someone (aka an accountability partner) who also wants a social media cleanse, then you can detox together. You can encourage and motivate each other, and you can have a whine-minute or two when you really miss scrolling. 

If you have someone who’s on the same journey as you are, you’ll both be invested and rooting for each other. You can also share your milestones – how you left your phone in the next room during the night and wasn’t tempted to use the device first thing in the morning – and they’ll understand what a success that is. 

Step #6. Find Another Activity 

You likely underestimate the amount of time you spend on social media, but I can bet that it’s a lot more than what you think.  

So, for all that social media time, you’ll now need to find something else to do

Consider taking up a new hobby, making exercise part of your day, or spending quality time with friends. Read that book you’ve been meaning to read or take that course on Coursera you have your eye on. 

Step #7. Stop Reaching for Your Phone 

The last step is stopping to reach for your phone. While you are addicted to social media and you hear the pings from your notifications, you’ve learned to compulsively reach for your phone, so you don’t get #FOMO. 

But this is a habit you need to break, along with detoxing from social media. 

Place a rubber band around your phone. You’ll see the physical obstacle, which gives you a chance to snap out of autopilot mode and think about why you want to use your phone. 

Ask yourself: 

  • What for? 
  • Why now? 
  • What else? 

This helps you learn to only pick up your phone when you have a purpose

How Will I Know When It’s Time to Return to Social Media? 

You know yourself best, so it’s obviously YOU who needs to decide when (or if) it’s time to return to social media. 

It’s okay (even more than okay) if you decide to permanently quit social media. 

But when you decide that you want to detox from social media, it’s a good idea to write down what “conditions” you need to meet before you can use social media again. Like having a game plan. 

Consider: 

  • Do you feel more in control of your life and your time? 
  • Do you focus on the moments in your life? Are you mindfully present? 
  • Do you care about the likes, loves, and comments?
  • Do you want to check up on your ex and follow people who don’t add value to your life?  
  • Do you have time to mindlessly scroll through social media feeds? 

When you do turn to using and consuming social media, it’s a good idea to set time limits on the apps so you don’t become addicted again.  

Final Thoughts on a Social Media Detox  

There are many pros and cons to using social media, but you need to detox from social media when the bad outweighs the good. Following the steps I’ve outlined here will help you break your social media addiction.

Sure, the first few days or week will be tough as you go through withdrawal, but stay strong. You’ve got this. You CAN do this. And you’ll be so thankful that you’ve stuck to your guns and (temporarily or permanently) quit social media.   

Looking for more tips to help you spend less time online and have more time to enjoy your life? Then check out our article on 5 ways to regulate the time you spend online.

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7 Steps to Complete a Social Media Detox