At some point, many of us have considered taking a social media break.
Ever experience that wave of anxiety after seeing a photo of your ex pop up on your feed? Do you find yourself compulsively checking your Instagram to see how many likes you’re getting or who’s looked at your story?
After browsing through social media, if you tend to feel stressed, envious or insecure you are not alone.
In this case, it may be time to take a step back and do a 7-day social media cleanse.
Taking a social media break is a great step you can take to improve your mental health. Many of us lose sight of the fact that social media isn’t an accurate depiction of other people’s lives.
All we’re seeing is the highlight reel – the achievements, the happy couple, the luxurious vacations. But everyone’s life is complicated. You never know what’s going on behind the scenes, and so, it’s a mistake to envy anyone.
Aside from making us feel unworthy or inadequate at times, social media can also be addictive. Many people have become obsessed with the likes, the instant gratification and the validation that comes with it.
Worst of all, they have become more focused more on posting about their lives than actually living them. This is the main reason why taking a break from social media is so important.
If any of these aspects resonate with you, no need to judge or criticize yourself – instead, empower yourself by taking a break from social media.
Follow These 4 Steps to Complete a 7-Day Social Media Cleanse:
Don’t worry – we’re not asking you to take 7 days off of social media (unless you want to – then do it!).
This cleanse breaks each day into accessible, simple steps to help you overcome the negative impacts of social media and gain a healthier approach to your social media use.
1. Track Your Habits: Day 1, 2, and 3
First, you need to become aware of how much time you’re spending on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.
For Day 1 of your cleanse, use social media as you normally would. Take notes of how often you’re signing on, for how long, and also how you feel during and afterwards (this part is key!).
For Day 2 and 3, do an experiment by turning off your notifications. Rather than go cold-turkey and deactivate your accounts, the idea is to feel the addiction and observe what your triggers are.
How long can you go without feeling the urge to check? Is there a certain time of day when the temptation is stronger? What are you checking the most? Does one platform make you feel worse than another? Write everything down.
2. Assess and Set Boundaries That Work For You: Day 4 and 5
For example, if you have a habit of checking social media as soon as you wake up in the morning, implement a rule that you won’t log on until you’ve finished getting ready and eaten breakfast.
Set it up so you are “earning” your social media time. When you use it as a reward by doing other things that make you feel productive and fulfilled, you will not only become more self-disciplined, but you will enjoy the reward more.
This will create a less compulsive attachment to it.
For Day 4 and 5, give yourself an allotted time to browse. Schedule social media into your day as you would a yoga class. Don’t do anything other than social media during that time. Get everything out of your system.
Then, whenever you’re tempted, just tell yourself that it can wait until next time. Since you are using it in a more conscious and purposeful way, you won’t feel as psychologically controlled or compelled by it. Your social media will naturally start to lose the addictive appeal.
3. Replace Social Media Time With Another Activity: Day 6
Chances are you will be shocked at the amount of time you’re spending online. By taking a break from social media, you will be able to fill your time with people and hobbies you enjoy.
Even if it’s just an extra 30 minutes per day, that’s time enough to cook a meal, go for a walk outside, call a loved one, complete a chore, or read a book. And let’s be real – that’s a more positive, productive use of your time.
If you’re addicted to your devices, here’s How to Combat the Negative Effects of Technology.
4. Reflect On Your New Habits and State of Mind: Day 7
Going back to Step 1, ask yourself the same questions: How often are you tempted to check social media? How strong is the temptation?
Now, think about: How are you feeling? Is it different than when you first started?
The goal with a social media cleanse is to lessen the temptation and feel more emotionally centered. You can continue with this cleanse as long as you need to feel mentally healthy, and you can return to it anytime.
By Taking a Break From Social Media, You Can LIVE Your Real Life, Not a Virtual One
Think about the last time you went out to dinner. How many people did you see staring at their screens? Along with distracting us from the present moment, there are many negative effects of social media.
When it comes to our digital lives, it’s important to set boundaries and know when to take a step back.
Starting a social media cleanse is easy. The hard part is sticking with it. By following these four steps, you will train your brain to become more mindful of your digital habits.
This article originally appeared on YogiApproved.