With the start of this new spring season, many of us hopped on the trend of spring cleaning, which involves cleaning out our bedrooms, cars, workspaces, etc., but we tend to forget to also clean our minds and specifically, our technological and social lives.
Our brains take in so much information every day from our phones and other gadgets that we don’t realize the lasting negative effects technology and social media have on us and how our mental health can suffer as a result. In the summertime, we hear so much about physical detoxing, such as certain drinks and juices or diets, but it is so important to also take the time to detox our minds and personal worlds. While I’m not saying this needs to necessarily be a complete lifestyle change, taking a small break from our everyday routine can be helpful in the long run.
Why It’s Good for You
Detoxing from technology and social media has many benefits. Not only will you feel as though you have a fresh start, but you will also have a new perspective on life and realize just how engrained technology is in our individual routines. Every time that I do a digital detox, I tend to be more productive, more focused, and have more motivation to get things done in a timely matter. I find myself actually wanting to do my homework or tidy up my room with the extra time I’m making for myself.
Another great benefit of a social media cleanse is getting rid of any negativity and extra stress that’s been unconsciously dragging you down. Sometimes, the constant screen time can impact us negatively and we don’t even realize that it’s happening.
How to Do It
Set a Time Frame
Remember that this doesn’t have to last until the end of time. It can just be a break from the everyday use of social media and tech to prevent a mental burnout. I usually like to make it an entire week and build the strictness of the detox as the week goes on, but this can be as long as you want. A month, a week, three days; pick a time frame that works best for you.
Cleanse Social Media Habits
When it comes to detoxing your social media use, you don’t need to quit it cold turkey (although you totally can if you want to). Some steps that I take when it comes to my own social media cleanse is to:
- Start by consciously scrolling through your feed. Stop mindlessly double tapping or liking posts. Take a moment to actually take in what you are viewing.
- Delete social media apps. As you get further along with your detox, you might make the choice to delete your social media apps altogether. It might be easier to avoid going on the apps if they aren’t even there to begin with. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Disable push notifications. Getting notifications will only entice you to check these apps and might drag you back into your old routine of “quickly checking what everyone is up to” and next thing you know, you’ve been sitting there scrolling for an hour and a half.
- Set a time limit. Set a specific time frame during the day that you will allow yourself to use social media (ex. 5-5:30pm). iPhones actually have a feature called “Screen Time” in the general settings that can set time limits for certain apps, like social media, and you will be notified once you’ve reached that set limit.
- Unfollow “friends” you don’t know or care for. While you are scrolling through your timeline, if you see a post that you don’t immediately love or have to think twice about giving it a like, unfollow it. The subconscious negativity of viewing something we don’t like or simply thinking we can just scroll past it can have lasting effects that we don’t even realize we’re holding in.
Cleansing other technologies
Just like with social media, there are different steps you can take to cleanse out the other technologies in your life. These detox tips can really help benefit your mental health in a way you didn’t even realize was possible.
- Unsubscribe from all those pesky emails. Get rid of those annoying email chain lists that you never read and only create unnecessary clutter in your inbox.
- Charge your phone away from your bed at night. When you go to plug your phone in for the night, make sure it is away from your bed, so you aren’t scrolling right before you go to sleep and aren’t checking it first thing when you wake up.
- Schedule intentional downtime. Try to schedule at least an hour per day during your digital detox to turn off and stay away from all electronics (phone, laptop, tablets, e-readers, TV). The constant screen time can be very draining.
- Reorganize your desktop. Take some time to organize your desktop screen by using folders to group items together and to delete any unnecessary files.
- Read a paper book. Read a chapter or two of that paper book that’s been sitting on your desk for the longest time. When you feel the urge to check your phone for any reason, pick up the book instead and just start reading.
- Leave your phone at home! Try going to class/work/dinner and leaving your phone at home. This one may be harder to commit to but the rewards are so satisfying. Immerse yourself in that early 90s feel of being tech-free during that short time of your day.
I know that whenever I am feeling mentally rundown and burning out, a social media and digital cleanse is all I need to get me kick-started again. Especially in a time where most of our lives are completely dependent and immersed in the digital world, a break from technology can seem like the last thing you’d want to do, but trust me, the benefits speak for themselves.
All images courtesy of Pixabay.