The Benefits Of Taking A Social Media Break Are Worth Putting Your Phone Down For, Experts Say
I'll be honest: I love social media about 99 percent of the time. I think it's such a great way to express yourself creatively, and many social media platforms have helped to create safe communities for marginalized people who might not feel supported in real life. Plus, with photo apps like Instagram, you have access to just about as many puppy photos as you could possibly want. That being said, the benefits of taking a social media break every once in a while are significant enough to make even a die-hard IG fan like me put away my phone for a few days.
Celebs do this all the time — Ariana Grande recently took a quick break from Instagram, and Selena Gomez is also stepping back from social media as of this Monday — and TBH, they might really be on to something. But how long does a social media break need to be in order for you to reap the benefits? According to Dr. Kevin Gilliland, a licensed clinical psychologist and executive director of Innovation360, it really depends on the person. "[It] will be half a day for some and the weekend for others," he tells Elite Daily. "We need to take a break long enough to realize that most of our cravings for things only actually last a matter of minutes."
But don't let the time commitment scare you if you need to work up to a longer break. "Any break, even if it's just an hour, can be helpful," explains licensed mental health counselor Rachel Gersten. While she says a full 24 hours away from social media is ideal, pulling yourself away for even short spurts at a time can have its benefits, too.
To get a better sense of how much you use different apps, I recommend checking out a new feature in the iOS 12.0 update: The new Screen Time report under Settings breaks down exactly how many minutes you spend per day on each app, and even the number of times you pick up your phone. And, let me tell you, I've been pretty shocked so far by my own results.
If you do decide to take a social media break, here are some benefits you might notice along the way.
You'll probably have way more free time
With no Twitter feed to scroll through, you'll not only have so much more time for ~activities~, but the time spent away from social media might also help to create healthy boundaries between your work life and your private life. "Being on social media can remind you of work, specifically if you're friends with or follow colleagues," says Victoria Merinda, a technology expert at HighSpeedInternet.com. "Taking complete breaks from work can help you be a productive worker and avoid burnout."
You might be more creative, too
Not to be that person who says technology is rotting your brain, but it kind of is, TBH. According to Elizabeth Su, a life coach, mindfulness expert, and certified yoga teacher, taking time away from your phone can get your creative juices flowing. "Your creativity sparks because your imagination can run free when you aren't mindlessly scrolling," Su tells Elite Daily over email.
Who knows what you'll do with some time away from IG? You could become the next Rembrandt or your generation's Toni Morrison.
A social media break can help deepen your relationships
"[A digital detox] can help you feel present and grounded in your everyday life and reconnect with those around you," Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist and professional counselor, tells Elite Daily over email. The thing is, if you and your partner or friends have been replacing meaningful conversations with social media time, McBain explains, you may be missing out on the intimacy that you could have.
I'm not sure where it originated, but I really love the tip that suggests putting your phones in a pile during a night out with your friends, and having whoever checks social media first pick up the tab. Why not give it a try one night and see how you all feel after the fact?
You'll get to know yourself a little better
According to Dr. Gilliland, you might not even realize how much social media is affecting you until you take a break. "We lose perspective on our behaviors, and taking a break helps us to get a measure of it," he tells Elite Daily.
By switching up your routine, Gilliland explains, you get a new chance to evaluate what is and isn't working in your life. "Basic, I know," he says, "but we need to shuffle things around sometimes, so we get a new dose of self-awareness."
You'll become more grateful
As I'm sure you've already realized on your own, people tend to post only the highlight reels of their lives on social media, and as a result, it can be easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to someone else's, even if the curated lifestyle you're seeing online is far from what's actually happening in reality. Dr. Sal Raichbach, a licensed psychologist at Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Elite Daily that distancing yourself from social media apps for a little while can help you steer clear of that compare-and-despair trap.
"You’ll notice less of what other people are showing off, and more of the reality," he says. "When you aren’t searching for that connection and validation online, you naturally start to find it in other ways."
You'll actually experience your own life
Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether or not you could actually benefit from a social media break. According to Dr. Gilliland, one way to know whether your brain could use some time away from these apps is to ask yourself whether you're doing the things that are really, truly important to you in life.
"If you’re spending more time watching life than living it," he explains, "it’s time for a break."