If you stood up in a room today and admitted that at some point social media has left you feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, anxious and perhaps even depressed, you would most certainly not be alone.
As much as we tell ourselves that the life we see through that little square on our phones is only what someone has chosen share and not the whole picture, sometimes even those with the thickest skin can feel that the barrage of ‘perfection’ displayed online is too much to handle.
Whether it’s the constant baby and wedding updates of facebook, the ‘I have exciting news but I can’t tell you what it is yet’ teasers on twitter, or the beautifully curated, themed profile of an instagram influencer, we are almost constantly bombarded by visual stimuli, and a break is sometimes needed.
Whether you’re a full-time influencer, an occasional blogger, or purely use social media as a procrastination tool, taking a break, even if it’s going to be better for your mental health, isn’t easy. Having taken a break myself last year, here’s my guide to cutting back for a little while.
Choose what to cut back on
Having a complete social media detox might not be the answer for you, it may just be one or two platforms that you choose to take a break from. Maybe it’s just one platform that you find yourself addictively scrolling through. Think about when you feel the most anxious or affected by social media, and if you can’t put your finger on when that is, perhaps then a complete social media black out is the way to go. Whether you cut out one, or every social platform there is, it’s your own choice and there is no right or wrong answer.
Delete the app
Having that little app icon winking at your from your phone screen is antagonising enough, so go ahead, delete it. Taking away that temptation will allow you to completely disconnect without wondering ‘What if I just logged in for a second’, where you’d possibly see something that reminded you immediately why you took a break, and you’re back to square one.
The world won’t end
Taking a break from social media will unlikely ruin your career, you won’t miss half a dozen events, and you won’t become an online outcast. Put up a quick post before you delete the app explaining to your followers that a break is needed, and the majority of them will be waiting for you when you get back. And if they’re not, then honestly it’s their loss. Truly loyal followers will stick around for fresh content from a calmer, less anxious you, and if they don’t, then perhaps they’re not the followers you want to attract.
Remember why you signed up
Let’s think about instagram specifically for a moment, why did you sign up? Perhaps it was for interior inspiration, or workout motivation, or because you love photographs of beautiful scenery, or cute cat videos.
Over time that initial pull might have got list, and it became a melting pot of bikini selfies, foodie flat lays, endless sunsets, and white walls with a single plant in the corner. Take a moment to remind yourself of what you wanted to get out of instagram, maybe it’s your own work you wanted to showcase.
Fall in love with it again without social media, and log back in when you’re feeling fresh, inspired and ready to share it with the world.
Ease back in
When you’re ready to log back in, start with some gentle rules for yourself. Ban social media for the first and last hour of the day perhaps, have a no photo rule in the gym, ban phones on ‘date night’, or pick a restaurant for its food reviews, not its photographic decor.
This is not about telling people they should spend less time on social media, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the constant online stimulation, feel that you’re falling into the comparison zone, or simply need to give your thumb a break from all the scrolling….it’s OK!!
I can tell you to stop comparing yourself to others online until I’m blue in the face, but that’s not realistic. Comparison, FOMO and even a little envy is inevitable, but it’s when it takes over your life off-line that needs to be addressed.
Enjoy a few days, weeks or months away from the online buzz when you need to. No-one will judge, and you might just inspire someone else, someone who really needs it, to do the same.