Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat - all these social media platforms have become an integral part of people’s everyday lives.
Using social media in moderation can be useful.
But when your life revolves around social media from waking up to going to bed, when you scroll mindlessly and it starts to affect your mental, physical health and other aspects of your life, that's when social media usage becomes social media addiction.
An estimated 210 million people are addicted to social media.
Social media gives a false sense of connection while further isolating the youth.
Social media is said to be more addictive than alcohol and smoking.
Because of the addictive nature of social media, it can be challenging to break free from it.
But with the right mindset and the right approach you can overcome this vicious cycle of social media addiction.
In this blog post, you will learn the step-by-step ways to break free from social media addiction.
What are some signs of a social media addiction?
Some warning signs of social media addiction include :
- Using social media first thing in the morning
- Scrolling mindlessly
- Spending too much time on the social media apps
- Relationships, study, or work being negatively affected because of social media use
- Constantly posting on social media
- Toxic comparison with others
- Low self-esteem
- Having withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, restlessness, anger, etc. when not using social media
- Using social media as a way to deal with unwanted feelings and emotions
- Using social media even during mealtime and while talking with people
- A life lived online rather than offline
10 Steps to Break Free From a Social Media Addiction
1. Identify the platform you are addicted to
The first step to breaking free from social media addiction is to identify which platform is the most addicting to you.
Some people struggle with Facebook, some Instagram while some people struggle with multiple platforms all at the same time.
So if you spend the most time on Facebook, while barely any time on Instagram then you need to work on spending less time on Facebook.
2. Keep a count on your social media usage
To solve social media addiction, you need to understand the depth of your issue.
For the first 2-5 days keep a count of how many times you have clicked on each social media app.
Simply count how many times you have used the app and for how long each session.
Your count could be 30-40 or way less.
Don't judge yourself. Simply keep a count and write it down.
It will do two things:
- It will make you aware of the magnitude of your issue
- You will get a number to work from
Some people log in to social media too many times but for a short time.
While others go to Facebook less often but spend a long time each session.
Say a person logs into Facebook 30 times but each time spends 5 minutes.
Whereas another person hops on Facebook 5 times a day but spends 1 hour on each session.
So you need to identify which category you are in.
3. Notice the patterns
Next, you need to figure out when you use social media the most.
What are your behavioral patterns?
Do you scroll right after waking up?
You touch your phone to turn off the alarm clock and then bam! You tap into the Instagram icon, start to scroll and 1 hour goes by!
If that’s the case then, instead of using your phone as an alarm clock, buy an actual alarm clock!
Keep it far from your bed so you actually have to get up to turn it off.
Have a morning routine to help you wake up in other ways. Listen to music or pray or meditate.
Do you scroll during mealtime?
Then it’s time to put an end to that habit. Keep your phone in another room while you eat.
Even if you're eating alone, don't use social media during meals. Practice eating mindfully and enjoy the experience of eating.
Do you scroll during work breaks?
If that’s your trigger then do something else during work breaks.
Talk with a colleague. Drink water. Walk a little. Stretch.
In short, identify the time and triggers. Then in that time do something else.
4. Identify the reasons behind your addiction and resolve them
When there is an issue, there is always a root cause behind it.
It is important to address the psychological issues that cause these addictive behavioral patterns.
Without working on these underlying issues first, all other efforts will fail.
You need to dig deep and find out the reasons behind it.
Find out the things and situations that trigger you into compulsive social media usage.
Are you unhappy in your real life? Is something bothering you in your real life that you are trying to run away from?
Did you have a heartbreak and are you trying to run away from those painful emotions by mindlessly scrolling through Facebook?
Distracting ourselves is not the solution. It only drains us and makes us feel even more horrible.
Well, I am going to contradict myself here a little bit, a little distraction is ok when it is too painful.
But if it becomes a habit and it affects your mental health, study, or work then the alarm is ringing.
Face your emotions be it pain, fear, anxiety anything.
And play an active role in resolving the issues.
It might be uncomfortable at first to deal with the issues raw but facing them is the only way to overcome those issues.
Practice loving compassionate self-talk.
Talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend when she is having a tough time.
Self-soothe by writing to yourself in your journal in a loving kind way.
If you are not able to identify the triggers yourself then you can take the help of a therapist to help you identify them.
5. Seek therapy
Taking therapy can be life-changing for you to break free from social media addiction.
An experienced therapist can help you work out the underlying issues which cause you to have addictive behavioral patterns.
When I was struggling with impulsive social media use I sought counseling.
And that is what finally helped me break free from social media addiction at that point in my life.
This time I took help early on so that was a plus.
Don't take too long to get help.
Having said that, even if it has been a long time for you, just take help!
6. Practice being present, enjoy life offscreen
You must spend time doing activities outside of social media.
If it’s a friend’s birthday, instead of wishing via social media, wish them personally over call.
Go to their house and spend some time with them.
Walk in nature. Spend time with animals. Spend time with your family.
Exercise or play a sport.
Practice being present. Enjoy the moment.
Whatever you do, do it mindfully.
In short, enjoy life offscreen.
7. Delete the apps
The best thing you can do is delete your social media apps.
But if you can not do that then you MUST log yourself out of the app every time you log in.
If you keep yourself logged in, you will find yourself hopping on social media and scrolling mindlessly again and again.
Having that one step in the way can really work as a time for reflection.
It will give you the time to think if you really need to go to social media or not.
8. Turn off all social media notifications
Turn off notifications from all your social media apps.
If you delete the apps or log out then you don't need to do this step because obviously, you won't get notifications after logging out.
Now there is also an option where you can get notifications from your mobile browser or desktop browser.
So you NEED to turn off those browser notifications so that you are not lured into using social media.
9. Block apps for a time
If you want to keep the apps but still limit your usage, blocking the apps from time to time can be a great option.
For example, you can block the apps at your bedtime or during work hours.
There are many App Blocker apps on android and apple devices as well as extensions for desktop or laptop browsers.
You can block apps and websites with these apps and extensions.
It is also easy to unblock the apps if you ever need to use them for emergencies.
This way, there will be fewer distractions and all the power in your hands!
10. Join a support group
Joining a support group can give you a space to connect with other people who are struggling with the same issues.
It will help you feel less isolated.
Many people share their recovery journey in support groups. Listening to those stories can inspire you.
Support groups offer a judgment-free supportive environment. So it can be a safe space for you to open up about your struggles.
In conclusion, Breaking free from social media addiction requires constant effort and the right mindset.
It is important to remember that slip-ups can happen. But every time you find yourself back into that vicious cycle, get back up and start fresh.
By setting strong boundaries and dealing with the root causes behind compulsive usage you can effectively overcome social media addiction.
Just stay committed.
You can do it!