HFS Student Hub: How To Have A Social Media Detox

We love our phones, the likes, the comments and the scrolling. The problem is, you can have too much love for social media.

When love tips into obsession, we need to stop. 

Social media has tonnes of benefits and has been super important for many of us during COVID-19, but like everything, if you do it in excess it can be detrimental.

Socials have the potential to make us feel anxious about how we live our life, how we look and pressure us into thinking we should be doing something we aren’t. In addition, we can get drawn into doom scrolling; the world can be pretty terrible at times and socials can suck us into a never-ending loop of bad news.

What Is It?

laptop and phone on social media

 “A social media detox is a conscious elimination of social media use and consumption for a set period of time. Generally, most social media detoxes are 30 days, but some people do seven days or even a year-long social media detox.” – Google

Basically, bye-bye TikTok, see ya Twitter, ciao Instagram, farewell YouTube and Facebook…it’s pretty dead anyway – right?

Why Do It?

three students on their phones on social media

Just like having a detox for your body,  a social media detox is good for your mind. We can get caught in a cycle of constantly comparing ourselves to others and this has a massive impact on our mental health, whether you realise it or not. 

Looking at what people are doing, wearing, eating and who they are seeing can make us feel inferior if we aren’t doing it. It might not happen instantly, but if you use social media excessively and you are always checking it, you might feel as though you aren’t good enough, wish you were doing something else or force yourself to do something because of FOMO.

Do you ever catch yourself stalking someone you used to date or be friends with to see what they are doing? Are they doing better without you? Is their new boo hotter than you? No-one likes to admit it, but we all do it. 

Taking yourself off social media will stop you from living in the past and start living in the present. Being offline for even just a day will improve your mood as you’ll be focused on what’s in front of you. 

Gratitude has been shown to be a positive consequence of a social media detox and ironically, makes you connect and be a better friend as you’re paying attention to the people around you rather than through your screen. During the pandemic, our world existed predominantly in isolation, so our online feeds were instrumental in helping us stay connected. 

The last 18 months brought global tragedy that dominated the news, bringing with it frightening, clickbait headlines. 

Doom Scrolling is when you scroll so much you end up in a vortex of terrifying news. Knowing what is happening is one thing, but feeling anxious and scared while reading countless tweets and articles is quite another. 

Social media is gamified to get us hooked, make our brains feel good so we keep coming back for more. Doomsday articles are the same.

As well as mental health benefits, studies have shown that excessive time on social media channels affects our sleep, vision and causes headaches because of screen-time. A break every now and then is probably a good idea.

How Can It Help With My Studies?

laptop and phones on table whilst studying

Getting offline improves mental wellbeing and will, therefore, have a direct impact on your concentration levels, something you definitely need at uni. 

Even if you don’t want to completely go off the grid, not checking or being around your phone when you’re working, increases productivity, collaboration and communication with others. Working together in person, rather than chatting on socials, creates organic and spontaneous moments of creative thinking that you just don’t get through typing.  

For example – whilst studying for an exam, fewer distractions mean more productive studying and less last-minute cramming.

How Do I Do It?

this is the sign you've been looking for neon lights

A social media detox is easy to do, it just takes willpower. If you aren’t ready to go the full hog and delete all your apps, small steps have a big impact.

1. Remove notifications

Removing notifications and allocating an hour in the morning and evening when you don’t have your phone around you is a good place to start. 

Notifications are designed to make us answer them right away and can cause anxiety in some people if they don’t. When you aren’t being pinged every second, you won’t believe how little you look at your phone.

2. No phones with your mates rule

When you meet up with friends, have a no-phone rule for some of the time you are together. Focus on each other and really listen. 

If you are looking down at a screen when someone is talking, you miss loads of small social cues and facial expressions that research has shown makes us more empathetic and kinder people. 

COVID-19 moved even more of our lives online as we tried to maintain a connection with loved ones, and it might seem counterproductive to take a break from that, but physical community is still so important.

3. Read before bed

If you charge your phone by your bed, don’t. Having your phone further away from you means you are less likely to be on it before bed. Read a good book and drift off to uninterrupted sleep

4. Delete your apps

Now, if you want to go full throttle, delete your apps or even just the ones you don’t use as much. Having less choice of social media will automatically reduce the time you spend on your phone. Just keeping one channel, if needs be, will still have a significant impact.

For those of you all in, delete all your apps for 30 days and keep a journal, documenting your mood each day. Be prepared, you’ll probably be stuck with things to do with your extra hours for a few days but you’ll soon get used to it. 

Take the time to do something you never thought you actually had time for; read that book, start that blog, learn that language, cook that meal, see that friend, do that workout, or nail that yoga pose!

Work up to deleting your apps and pausing accounts if you aren’t sure about it. Even the smallest change, like no phones while eating, will have a positive effect on your wellbeing. 

Obviously a social media detox is easier said than done, your life as a student is most likely surrounded by your mobile device – we understand. For more on all things social media, why not check out our blog which explores all the advantages and disadvantages? This might encourage you (even more) to take that social media detox…

Table of Contents