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Updated on July 22, 2022

10 Signs You Need a Social Media Break & 20 Things to Do Instead

Social Media Addiction

It's no secret that social media has taken over many people's lives. The average person spends hours online interacting with social media. That's a lot of time scrolling through your newsfeed, looking at pictures, and watching videos.

Social media has benefits and is an invaluable service for many people. However, too much of a good thing can be detrimental.

What happens when social media apps start to take over your life?

Do you feel like you can't go a day without checking your phone? Do you start to feel anxious or depressed if you're not online? Are you missing deadlines or neglecting responsibilities because you’re obsessed with people’s posts?

This is what we call social media addiction. It’s a real condition, and it's something that more and more people are struggling with. 

This type of addiction is a real problem that many people are struggling with. It's defined as excessive use of social media sites that lead to negative consequences in your life.

The most common negative consequences of social media addiction include:

  • Interruptions in your sleep patterns
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, or lonely when you're not online
  • Isolating yourself from friends and family
  • Neglecting hygiene

Effects of Social Media Addiction

The effects of social media addiction can be both physical and psychological. 

Physical effects can include neck pain, headaches, and problems with sleep and concentration. 

Psychological effects can include anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Social media addiction can also lead to less face-to-face interaction, which further contributes to feelings of isolation. 

10 Signs You Need a Social Media Break

Here are some signs you might need to take a break from social media:

1. You're feeling overwhelmed by social media

If you find yourself constantly checking your social media accounts, it might be time to take a break. Constantly being connected can be overwhelming and lead to feelings of anxiety and stress.

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2. You're comparing yourself to others

One of the dangers of social media is that it can lead to comparison. If you find yourself constantly comparing your life to others' seemingly perfect lives, it's time for a break. Social media platforms can give us a skewed view of reality. It’s important to remember that what we see online isn’t always an accurate representation of reality.

3. You're feeling jealous or envious of others

Similar to point number two, social media users sometimes find themselves feeling jealous of others because of what they see. This is a good sign it’s time for a break. Social media can fuel negative emotions. It’s important to focus on the positive things in your own life.

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4. You're wasting too much time on social media

If you find that you're spending hours upon hours scrolling through social media feeds, it's probably time to take a break. We all have 24 hours in a day. If you're spending a large chunk of your time on social media, you're likely not doing other things that are more important or productive.

5. You're neglecting your real-life relationships

If you find that you're spending more time interacting with people online than you are in person, it's time to take a break. Social media can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. However, it's important to balance online interactions with real-life interactions.

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6. You're feeling like social media is taking over your life

Do you feel like social media is starting to take over your life? Does it seem as if you can’t go more than a few hours without checking your various accounts? It's time for a break. Social media is just a tool and it shouldn’t be the center of your life.

7. You're feeling anxious or depressed

If you're feeling more anxious or depressed since you started using social media, it's time to take a break. Social media can be a trigger for anxiety and depression, so it's important to be aware of how it's affecting your mental health.

8. You're not sleeping well

If you're having trouble sleeping it's time to take a break. The blue light from screens can interfere with our sleep patterns, so it's important to limit our screen time before bed.

9. You're not being productive

If you're not being as productive as you'd like, it's time to take a break. Social media can be a huge time-suck, so limiting usage is important if you want to be productive.

10. You just need a break

If you find that you're just feeling burnt out from social media in general, it's probably time to take a break. Sometimes we all need a break from the constant online noise, so don't be afraid to take some time for yourself.

Benefits of Breaks

It's no secret that we're constantly bombarded with images and messages on social media. And while it can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, it can also be a major source of stress and anxiety. 

If you're feeling overwhelmed by your social media usage, it might be time to take a break. You can limit your time on social media or temporarily delete social media apps all together. 

Here are five reasons why a social media detox can be beneficial for your mental and physical health:

Reduced Stress

Excessive social media use can be a major source of stress. Constantly comparing yourself to others, seeing images of perfect lives, and reading negative comments can all affect your mental health. If you're feeling stressed out, taking a break from social media can greatly reduce your stress levels.

Better Sleep

Your social media habits can also interfere with your sleep. If you're scrolling through your newsfeed late at night, it can be difficult to fall asleep. Taking a break from social media can help you get the rest you need.

Increased Productivity

If you're spending hours on social media, other areas of your life are likely suffering. Taking a break from social media can help you focus on more important tasks and be more productive.

More Time

Social media can be a time suck. Constant social media notifications distract and divert your attention. Even if you don’t take a break, it’s important to manage settings and remove push notifications from your social accounts. 

If you're spending more time on social media than you'd like, taking a break can give you back some of that precious time. Use your extra time to do things you enjoy, such as reading, spending time with friends and family, or pursuing a hobby.

Increased Happiness

Social media can be a downer. If you're constantly comparing yourself to others or seeing images of perfect lives, it's no wonder you're feeling unhappy. Taking a break from social media can help you focus on the positive aspects of your life and feel happier as a result.

20 Replacements

There are several things you can do to replace social media. Doing so has positive effects and many people find incorporating these activities into their lives improves their mental wellbeing.

  1. Read a book
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Listen to music
  4. Watch a movie
  5. Play a game (not necessarily a video game!)
  6. Make a list of things you're grateful for
  7. Call or text a friend
  8. Write in a journal
  9. Learn something new (take an online course, watch a TED talk, etc.)
  10. Meditate or do some other form of relaxation
  11. Exercise
  12. Cook or bake something
  13. Clean or declutter your space
  14. Organize your photos
  15. Make a vision board
  16. Plan a trip (even if you don't end up taking it)
  17. Do some gardening
  18. Work on a puzzle
  19. Learn a new skill (knitting, painting, etc.)
  20. Rest and relaxation

Summary

Social media should be a fun way of interacting with other people, but for some, it becomes an addiction. 

Eliminating certain social media platforms or just taking a temporary break from checking social media can help you improve your outlook on life and your overall health. More substantial breaks from social networking sites improve relationships with family members, increase productivity, and improve overall wellbeing.

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Resources

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  1. Walton, Alice G. “6 Ways Social Media Affects Our Mental Health.” Forbes.
  2. Naslund, John A., et al. “Social Media and Mental Health: Benefits, Risks, and Opportunities for Research and Practice.” Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science, 2020.
  3. Karim, Fazida. “Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review.” Cureus, 2020.
  4. Shafer, Leah. “The Ups and Downs of Social Media.” Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2018.
  5. Gambini, Bert. “Social Media Use Tied to Poor Physical Health.” Univesity of Buffalo, 2022.
  6. Roeder, Amy. “Social Media Use Can Be Positive for Mental Health and Well-Being.” Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2020.

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