Why I Take Regular Social Media Breaks (and you should too!)
I’m usually not someone who tells others what to do, so take the “should” in the title of this article a little lightly 😉 But I do believe that taking regular social media breaks is one of the best things that we can do these days. If you often find yourself checking your social media accounts without a real purpose or feel like you are wasting time on social media, then read along.
I’m not afraid to admit that I used to spent way too much time on social media. Every morning when I woke up I would check all my feeds, catch up on what happened overnight and like a bunch of posts. Sometimes this would take me 15 minutes, sometimes I’d lay in bed for over an hour checking social media before finally getting up. I liked the feeling of knowing what was going on at all times. Until using social media started making me feel not so great anymore.
The social media comparison trap
As a blogger and running an online business, it’s hard not to constantly compare yourself to your peers. As everyone is constantly sharing their achievements and happy moments, your life may seem a little uneventful. I started feeling like I was way behind: where was my book deal? Why did I not have thousands and thousands of followers yet? What was I doing wrong? I started to feel some jealousy towards others and no longer felt proud of all the work I was doing. My work just didn’t seem to be enough.
So sometime last year, I decided to have a little social media break for one day. I was hoping to not only be more productive that day (since I’d spend up to 2 or 3 hours every day on social media), but also get a break from the constant comparison and watching people’s highlight reel. Although it took some willpower and getting used to (I kept grabbing my phone out of habit) I ended up having a great productive and peaceful day. I got more work done, felt at ease with myself and spent more time with my partner and cats than I usually would. This was something I wanted to do more often.
How I changed my social media habits
Since that day, I have been more mindful while using social media. I’m not perfect and I still definitely catch myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram sometimes, but it’s getting better. Here’s what’s changed:
– I stopped using Twitter. I noticed that the platform did not make me feel good at all. It was triggering to constantly see all the horrible events going on around the world. Not to mention all the bullying on the platform.
– I unfollowed and muted a bunch of people on Instagram that annoyed me. I may have liked their posts once, but at this time I felt like I didn’t align with their content anymore. For example, I unfollowed all accounts that showed animal cruelty. I also unfollowed a bunch of Instagram “models” that only post heavily edited selfies. My feed now consists out posts from people that I know, look up to or can learn from.
– I unfollowed almost everyone on Facebook. I’m still friends with everyone, but I no longer see their updates. This means my news feed is pretty much empty. I only see posts from a couple of closed groups that I want to see and participate in. This has been a game changer for me and saves so much time!
– I give myself about 5 minutes in the morning to check Instagram, no more than that. Since deleting both Twitter and Facebook apps from my phone, all that’s left is Instagram. And since I follow less people, my feed isn’t as long anymore. No more endless scrolls and catching up for an hour every morning!
In addition, whenever I feel like I spend a little too much time on social media, I take a break again. I regularly take a social media break during work hours, so for example between 9 AM and 5 PM. This way, I can focus on work or running errands without wasting time on social media.
The benefits of spending less time on social media
I recommend everyone to be mindful about social media and to cut back on how much time you spend on the platforms. Here’s some ways in which it has benefited me:
– I feel calmer and more at ease with myself. I get to focus more on myself and my work and less on what others are doing.
– It’s easier to get work done. Whether it’s actual work, running errands or reading a book: I have more time for those things now.
– I experience less stress and anxiety. I don’t need to know about everything going on in the world. I don’t need to see the bullying online or people being assholes towards others that don’t agree with them. Being less informed is actually working out great for my well being.
– I spend less money. Yes you read that right: I spend less money now that I spend less time on social media. As I see less ads and product placements, I no longer feel the need to constantly buy new things.
I wrote about this on my old blog from time to time and was even recently interviewed by Dutch Cosmopolitan about my habits on social media (it’s in their July issue). I feel it’s important to speak on this as I feel like collectively it’s a good idea to cut back. Not just so you can feel happier and more productive, but also over concerns over the power and intent that these platforms have. If it wouldn’t be for my blog and online business, I probably wouldn’t even be on Instagram anymore. I would just have Facebook to stay in touch with friends. But as long as my business is online, I’m going to try my best to be mindful about spending time on social media and take regular breaks.