social media detox
Photography by Peter Stigter

Is Social Media Taking Over Your Life? 8 Tips for Trying a Detox

At a time when smart devices are an extension of our arms, putting our phones down without checking e-mails, tweeting or double tapping photos seems like a near-impossible task. Don’t get us wrong. We love social media. With information quite literally at our fingertips, we can interact with whomever and whenever from wherever we please. However, with our eyes constantly glued to these brightly lit screens, there have got to be negative side effects, no? While we are aware of the physical problems that come in tow including straining of the eyes, furrowing of the brows and even back pain(!), paying too much attention to our phones can affect us on an emotional level as well.

“Social media can certainly activate feelings of sadness or isolation, especially if we are already going through a difficult time like losing a break up, or losing a job,” says Helix Healthcare Group’s Clinical Director Jesse Hanson. “Although social media is inherently social, and encourages us to connect with hundreds of people, this kind of interaction can actually make us feel very alone—especially if it starts to replace actual social engagement with real friends.”

With a wealth of knowledge (good and bad) out there, it’s hard to just step back from all of the digital frenzy. Seeing many IG users becoming overnight stars with just a click of the shutter and swipe of a filter doesn’t help either. We are all guilty of whipping out our phones to document #ootds, #instafood and #beautyhauls? If it’s not on social media, it didn’t happen, right? “That’s kind of our generation’s struggle. We are creating tools to make technology work for us in every facet of our lives, making it even more difficult to disconnect,” says web producer/social media detox survivor Kevin Naulls. “Everyone is begging to be heard about everything. You hear it all the time, but the tools that connect us don’t connect us at all.”

Taking a break from social media isn’t unheard of. Just this week, Instagram’s favourite PDA couple, Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande, announced that they both would be taking a break from the social media game. So if you’re experiencing unnecessary stress, we suggest you to read these tips. While going cold turkey may not be everyone’s style, our experts Hanson and Naulls give us tricks on how to easily escape the digital world and solve our social media woes. “If it’s hard, you won’t do it. So make it as easy [and fun] as it needs to be for you to succeed,” reminds Naulls. “It is more of a vacation than a detox.”

Be aware of addictive patterns.
“If you find yourself checking at specific intervals or with specific cues, start shaking up that routine. Don’t check social media on your journey to work…read a book or look around you instead. Being present is a great way to stay calm and mindful throughout your day.” -JH

Leave your phone behind.
“I don’t mean just leaving it at home, because your phone is also something people call or text, and those things can be important. I mean, if you’re going out to lunch, leave your phone at your desk. Don’t take your phone to the bathroom.” -KN

De-clutter your smartphone.
“Consider deleting the apps from your smartphone if you are noticing that checking social media is having a negative impact on your mood. Even having a break for a few weeks will allow you to break any unhelpful cycles.” -JH

Keep your head up.
“We all walk and text, but what if we didn’t? If you’re walking home, or even commuting, put your phone in your bag.” –KN

Plan activities where you can’t check your phone.
“Sign up for an exercise class, try a hands-on craft or skills class like pottery, go to the movies and leave your phone at home, or head to the spa. Get out in nature once a day: A walk in nature (sans cell phone!) has shown to reduce cortisol (stress) levels.” -JH

Wake up to an old-fashioned alarm clock.
“Don’t use your phone as an alarm, because it’s sitting there and it will call on you to look at it.” -KN

Grab your support group.
“Have a girls night and ban social media for the evening so you’re able to have each other’s undivided attention. Hanging out with close friends boosts your oxytocin levels in the body, which is the ‘love’ hormone that is also produced during a massage, hugging and intimacy. Social media is void of the good effects of real social connection from a hormonal, emotional and physiological perspective. In other words, it will leave you feeling great!” -JH

Your phone is not your date.
“Don’t leave your phone on the table when you’re eating a meal, unless you’re waiting for someone who is relying on you to be able to respond. In most cases, this person doesn’t exist. Your friend is your IRL social media, so eat a damn meal and have a conversation with your fam.” -KN