Why Unplug From Social Media?
Traversing through your days while you unplug from social media has been in the news recently, but honestly, is going cold turkey and saying see ya later to social media worth doing? Ask yourself, am I using social media as a distraction from living in the here and now?
Should you Unplug From Social Media?
Most of us like to cling to our hourly habits of checking our various social media accounts either on our phones or a handy tablet, and need some convincing to take even a short break. After all, social media is our way of staying connected to the world and the people we care about. And to be transparent, we also like getting updated on people we don’t care about as well.
Personally, social media is how I keep up with my friends and extended family. It’s also one of the ways I track the big news stories of the day. Though to be honest most of the big news stories are not really big, am I right?
Social media is undoubtedly entertaining and it never seems to run out of content even if the content is rehashed and warmed-up from last year or maybe last week. No matter how bored I am, social media will have something to entertain me, whether it’s a cat video or a story about my friend’s engagement.
So Why Take A Break From Social Media?
It’s no secret, our devices distract us. Even when we’re not looking at those devices we’re thinking about looking at them. You might have even checked your device without even thinking through what you’re doing. I know in the middles of carrying on a conversation with someone I’ll interrupt it, and precede to pick up my phone and check it’s notifications. Its second nature at this point to multitask in the middle of a conversation.
Social media is built upon distraction because of its constant, real time updates. Most social media apps have options to ping your devices with notifications whenever there’s a new post, and there’s always a new post.
The constant distractions can ruin our focus. It takes us away from our work, our family and our friends. Instead of focusing on a conversation we’re quickly checking our screen to see what other people are doing. We’ve become adept at sneaking a look at our phones when we think no one is watching, but don’t be fooled, most of the time people see you sneaking.
You can unplug from social media by turning off all your notifications and focus on what you’re doing. Maybe you’ll finally be able to get through dinner with your family without checking Instagram to see what everyone else is eating.
Personally, I’ve found it helps to turn off all social media whenever I need to get any work done. Otherwise the siren song of infinite distraction will be too much for me to handle.
According to many studies, Multitasking Doesn’t Work It takes around 20 minutes to regain deep focus every time you become distracted from a project, a book, or a meaningful conversation. And the more we give into distractions the easier it is stay in a distracted mode where we are never 100% engaged in anything.
What’s one trick you can do right now to grow and deepen your focus? Work on a project for 25 minutes without giving into distractions. That means no notification checking, no phone calls and no conversations with others during that time. At the end of the 25 minutes take a 5 minutes break, you might close your eyes and breathe calmly or just stare out a window.
Once the break time is over focus on work or a project for another 25 minutes and take another break. If you must you can check social media during the 2nd break but waiting for the 4th break of the day will blow your mind with the amount of stuff you got done.
Getting better at focusing is much like getting better at practicing for a marathon, it takes stringing together session after session after session. And before you know it your focus has gotten you through the 26+ miles of productivity.
Give it a try and if you’d like to know more about this focus technique check out the Pomodoro Technique for a deeper dive. Francesco Cirillo created what may be the simplest and more effective focus and time management ever.
Time for Hobbies
By taking a social media break, you can finally spend some time on hobbies you’ve been meaning to get to. Maybe you can work on your novel or sew a quilt. You might even go outside and take a walk around the park!
Many people I know who have integrated social media breaks spend their time working on craft projects leading to a physical object to show for the time spent.
There is something gratifying about seeing a finished tangible project, or feeling the tiredness in your muscles from a long hike that you’ll rarely get from texting or posting on social media.
Uplift Your Mood
When we constantly check social media, it’s inevitable that we begin comparing ourselves to others. Is your friend having a more expensive vacation than yours, or having a more fun night out on the town?
Choosing to “unplug from social media” will get you away from the comparison game and give you some much needed space to reflect in.
Being away from a screen can also help uplift your mood. Staring at a screen all day is itself a huge distraction from your thoughts and feelings. Our mood tends to dull and become fragmented when we spend an excessive amount of time in front of our computer or phone.
Bonus, when you take a break from social media you get to think about what a great thing you’re doing and increase your self esteem!
Unplugging is the quickest way to uplift your mood and feel better about yourself.
Fear Of Missing Out is often used interchangeably with The Grass Is Always Greener. However you say it, the underlying meaning is the same. We often think the things we don’t have will be better than the things we do have.
Things rarely (never) bring us lasting happiness but we chase after them none the less. It’s the chase or wanting that sparks out emotions with a temporary rush and a temporary lift of our mood. But once we have what we desire we start looking for the next thing, the next person or the next event to chase after, and around and around we go
It won’t come as a surprise that social media is often the promoter of chase for what we don’t have. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the fear of missing out when you see exactly what everyone else is doing and wonder if you’d be having more fun if you were doing that, too.
Taking a break from social media will allow you to break away from the cycle of FOMO and find more lasting enjoyment in what you’re doing.
When I really want to be able to enjoy what I’m doing, I unplug from social media. It’s the only way I know to completely shut FOMO down.
Experience the Moment
By purposefully taking a step to unplug from social media you’ll be able to focus you thoughts on the moment you’re in. After all the only moment we have is now, not the past and certainly not the future. We only have right here, right now.
Dance to the music without worrying how many likes your post will get. While you’re unplugged pay attention to every detail of the moment you’re in. Look around you and think about what you see. What does the place you’re in feel like? What do you smell? When you eat a meal focus completely on what it tastes like. Notice all these little things that the distractions of social media block you from experiencing.
Better Future Use of Social Media
By unplugging from social media, you’ll give yourself a chance to miss it. This will help you realize which parts of social media are truly beneficial to you, and which you’re just using out of habit.
During your unplug, you might find yourself missing particular online friends but not others. When you go back after your break take the opportunity to clean up your list of who you follow.
The break can also give you a chance to decide where your priorities lie. You might decide that certain platforms and topics are genuinely benefiting your life because you felt their lack while unplugged.
I’ve found that there are entire social media platforms that were really just stressing me out instead of benefiting my life my work. I didn’t notice the difference until I took the opportunity to unplug and find out what was causing unnecessary anxiety in my life.
Escape The Negative Onslaught
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there’s no denying that the news is often intense. Even when it isn’t election season the news is full of stories of horrible events and tragedies.
Spending some time away from news stories can help you experience less anxiety. This one is especially tough because you might see keeping up with the news as an important part of your identity. The news will still be waiting when you get back. You can take a break and let yourself breathe for a day.
You might also be reluctant to turn off the news because it’s a common topic of conversation among your group of friends. You could be worried about feel unprepared and not being able to offer an opinion on the topic.
A solution to this is to let your friends know that you’re taking a social media break and would like to keep the conversation away from news for the day. Your friends will likely understand and will probably even want to ask you questions about how they can take a social media break as well!
You might consider using some of your social media unplugging time to volunteer for a favorite cause. Helping others is an incredible long term happiness booster. Volunteering will give you a deep sense of purpose and connection.
Volunteering will give you a sense of community in the physical world unlike the virtual world of online. There’s value to being able to talk to people all around the world, but there’s also a tremendous value to be found within the physical world, value to be found in your local area.
Social media breaks are not easy to manage. In our modern age we rely heavily on social media to connect with the people we know and love. Many of us even rely on it for our income.
The benefits of taking time to unplug from social media make it all worth it. Think about it like taking a relaxing weekend. Even the most intense jobs will give you a day off. Take a day off from your social media use and see what happens!
Craig is dedicated to helping small businesses grow and their marketing success by developing a deeper connection to Curiosity, Intention and Gratitude. Curiosity is the foundation of all business endeavors, capture curiosity and you’ve captured momentum.