At this point, talking about the perils of social media has become tired—like ok, we’re casually destroying our brains and our ability to feel joy, we get it. We know that scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can leave us feeling insecure, anxious, and depressed. But, as we don’t seem to be getting any less plugged in, it’s worth repeating the value of a little social media detox.
That negative effect is compounded when summer finally arrives and we’re confronted with a deluge of photos of acquaintances, celebrities, and high school friends who document every moment spent basking in the outdoors, sipping margaritas, and enjoying perfectly-staged BBQs. Psychologists will remind us that comparing our lives to others’ is a guaranteed path to misery, but it can be hard to stop when infinite scroll’s enabled.
Here’s how to deal when you’re not ready to give up social media forever, but you really need to unplug:
Mute your notifications
It sounds simple enough, but when was the last time you methodically sorted through all the apps on your phone and muted their notifications? You might have apps sending you email messages, homepage notifications, and unnecessary “ping” sounds. Heck, even a vibration can pull you out of the moment.
Use an app to track your time online
It’s easy enough to tell you to monitor your time online, but that’s an unrealistic approach for those of us who consume social media in bite-size pieces. As we’re only spending five minutes here, five minutes there, it can be hard to believe that it all adds up.
Using another app (while it sounds counterintuitive) can help. There are a number of apps that limit access to another app entirely, restrict the time spent on it, or encourage you to do other activities.
For instance, the Off the Grid app will completely block your phone from use for a select period of time. To use your phone, you’ll have to pay a $1 each time you want to unlock it. The Space app works by surveying your social media habits and then suggesting a usage goal. You’ll be rewarded for every benchmark you hit.
Uninstall those apps—if only for a few days
Sometimes you need to really, really forget about those apps. Unplugging can give you a surge of clear thinking and help you get your groove back.
Consider a weekly 3-day detox where you uninstall the most commonly-used social media app on your phone. In this way, you can ensure you’ll spend your time living out those great moments IRL, not for the ‘gram.
Finally, there’s always the low-tech option of creating some physical distance between you and your phone (i.e. throwing it in another room or hiding it in a drawer). Don’t sleep on that one.