Sometimes when I think about how much of my day is spent on social media, I’m embarrassed. Truly. Being a coach whose business happens to be 99% virtual means that I have to be (or feel like I have to be) fully available on every imaginable platform pretty much all of the dang time.
And while I love it, staying connected without any designated non-screen time can start to take its toll. There have been many days I’ve walked away from my phone wishing I could delete every single social app and never look back.
Except I’d miss connecting with people. I’d miss connecting with my clients in a way that allows us to stay in touch outside of those weekly check ins. And I’d miss the celebrity gossip and Real Housewives memes (not to mention the puppy videos!)
So, while I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to social media altogether, I am ready to admit that a digital detox is a necessary part of my self-care routine, and that unplugging from social media comes with some pretty great benefits that shouldn’t be ignored.
5 Benefits of Unplugging From Social Media
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Multiple studies show that excessive social media and technology use is a contributing factor to things like decreased self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Social media can be great for staying in touch with friends and family, but when we devote the majority of our time to these tiny little screens, we often end up comparing our life to the highlight reel being portrayed to us. And friends, nothing good can come from that.
When we disconnect from social media, we may help lesson our overall anxiety by easing the feeling of obligation that often accompanies the world of constant communication. By allowing ourselves to take a break, we’re able to walk away from the constant “ping” of new notifications alerting us to new emails, new messages, new likes, and more.
Improved Sleep Quality
Raise your hand if you’ve been guilty of laying in bed mindlessly scrolling the ‘gram when you should be getting your zzz’s (slowly raises hand). Yeah, #same. But keeping us awake when we should be dreaming isn’t the only way social media can interfere with our sleep patterns. Our phones put off this crazy little thing called artificial light (or blue light), and it has the ability to change up how our body produces melatonin (the hormone responsible for helping us fall asleep). Putting your phone down before bed is a way to say goodbye to the noise, and the light keeping you from getting a full 8 hours of restful sleep.
Check out some of my favorite blue-light-blocking glasses for when turning off the screen just isn’t possible.
Need something to help you wind down at night? Read a book! Start with How to Break Up With Your Phone: The 30 Day Plan to Take Back Your Life 😉
Ability to be More Present
When was the last time you really took in the scenery? More often than now, we’re all so guilty of having our noses down in our phones no matter where we are. Going for a walk? Looking at my phone. Sitting in the doctor’s office? Looking at my phone. In between innings at a baseball game? Posting about it on Facebook. Learning how to disconnect from your phone gives you permission to really be present in the moment, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
Ability to Stay Focused
Social media is distracting. It just is. How many times have you skipped doing something you were supposed to do because let’s be real.. laundry just isn’t as fun as Instagram, right? Neither is finishing that big project for work. But truthfully, there are some tasks far more important that laundry that often get scrimped on just because our social obligations got the best of us. One of the benefits of unplugging from social media is that when you’re able to remove yourself from the distractions, you’ll be amazed at how much stuff you’re able to get accomplished, and who doesn’t love feeling productive?
Ability to Create New Memories
Social media may be the highlight reel for you to post your favorite memories, but if you’re not careful, you’ll spend so much time scrolling through photos that you’ll miss out on the opportunity to actually go out and create new memories. Being able to put your phone down and spend time exploring, learning, creating, or simply being is a magical gift far too many of us have forgotten exists. Not to mention, spending time creating memories with the people who are most important to us trumps social media any day.
Tips for taking a digital detox:
Set time limits. Just like you set work hours, designate some “time off” every day from being on your phone, computer, or engaging in social media. One rule in our house is no phones at the dinner table. That’s our time to sit and really engage with one another as a family, free from distractions.
Turn off notifications. If you’re someone who gets distracted every time someone likes your photos on Facebook, then set your social media apps’ notifications to “off.” Those alerts will be there waiting for you any time you open the app, but you’ll be less distracted if your phone isn’t alerting you every time there’s something new going on.
Put down your phone (and walk away) at least one hour before bed.
Enjoy a cup of coffee before you pick up your phone in the morning. Get into the habit of establishing a morning routine that doesn’t involve your phone or tablet.
Once a month, take a full weekend away from social media.