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Is it time to consider unplugging from social media for a while?

May 09, 2017

Six signs it’s time to unplug from social media

If the mere thought of a social media detox stresses you out, that’s understandable – being connected is at the core of our culture. While it’s nearly impossible to completely stop using technology, a temporary break from social media can help you assess the role it plays in your life and whether you want to consider making changes. You may also experience improved sleep quality, increased productivity and more real-life engagement with the people you care about most.

If you fall into any of the following six categories, perhaps it may be time to consider unplugging for a little while:

1. You’re constantly comparing yourself to others

The "staged" presentation of someone’s life can hide and distort complex human realities, commonly leaving us feeling flawed and envious. The detailed knowledge of our own lives against the highlight reel of others' is an unfair comparison. If social media is urging you to be anyone but your wonderful self, unplug!

2. You’re “hooked”

In today’s society, being without a phone can feel like we’re missing a limb. Do you think about checking Facebook and Instagram every time you pick up your phone, or is it a subconscious habit? Do you feel disconnected, anxious and bored without it? Do you check social media immediately after you open your eyes in the morning?

If the answer to all or most of those questions is “yes,” you’re likely unhealthily hooked on social media and should consider a more mindful approach. It’s not going to be easy, but forcing yourself to sign off for a while may help you find balance.

3. You’re not productive

Technology has rapidly increased the speed of communication, but social media may actually be slowing you down if you’re using it as a means to procrastinate (even if it’s not intentional). Consider your most important goals and whether social media use is actually supporting them. Taking a bit of time off can help you determine the difference and perhaps how social media can truly support your accomplishments, rather than detract from achieving them.

4. You’re not present

How often do you converse with others while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? Put your phone down and look up! Navigating life by planning your next Instagram or tweet removes you from the moment. Challenge yourself to engage with the people whose presence you are actually in and the places you physically occupy. Consider activities or places that encourage mindfulness and exclude technology like an exercise class, a coffee shop without Wi-Fi or taking a walk in nature.

5. You crave validation

Are you guilty of deleting a post because it didn’t get many likes, accepting friend requests from unknown people to up your numbers or liking others' posts to get likes back? These are all symptoms of self-validation. Unplugging from social media and engaging with the real world, starting with affirming experiences and people who care about you, can help with each of these symptoms.

6. You’re unable to recharge

Do you find yourself scrolling through your social feeds while lying in bed? You’re not alone. In fact, 95 percent of people are on their devices in the hour before bed. While this screen time may seem like a relaxing way to unwind, it actually makes it harder to fall asleep and get quality rest. Like daylight, the blue light from screens stimulates the senses and prepares your body to be awake. This light exposure actually delays the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle. While there are nighttime modes on many devices, logging off and focusing on getting a good night’s rest will help you recharge and be at your best the next day.