Your alarm rings, and after picking up your phone to snooze the alarm, what’s the first thing you do after? I believe many of us would get on our Instagram or Facebook just to keep up with what has happened while we were asleep. Constantly checking our social media have become a habit, one that we may not even be aware of. Have you ever wondered why you don’t feel the happiest after checking these platforms? This is because over-usage of social media is proven to impact our mental well-being negatively. In this write-up, I will be sharing more on why we should all go on a social media detox and the benefits of it.
First up, what exactly is a social media detox? It is a conscious elimination of social media use and consumption for a targeted period of time. In other words, you get off your favourite platforms for your desired duration. Sounds unattractive? Let me try to convince you on why this is absolutely necessary.
Firstly, detoxing helps us break away from the vicious cycle of comparing ourselves to others. Perfection portrayed on social media is a double-edged sword. While it may inspire to be better, or work harder, it more often than not puts people down. We often think ‘wow I wish I looked like that’ or ‘I could never be this rich’. Little do we know that everyone feels the same way, and that even the prettiest influencer on our feed could be feeling what we are feeling on a daily basis too. Social media consists of highly curated content with amazing filters that we often forget the fact that nobody is really perfect. The only person we should really compare to is ourselves, and we should strive to be better versions of ourselves, not others. Remember, you are you, and nobody else can be you. Therefore, taking a break off social media helps you to better focus on yourself and the things that truly matter, and eliminates negativity that clouds your mind.
Credits: Wall Street Journal
Secondly, social media detox helps you reconnect with the real world. You may be wondering, what do you mean, I am already living my real life. Let me throw a question back to you, have you ever gone to a place, or worn a certain piece of clothing with the sole intention of posting it on your Instagram? If your answer is yes, same here. While there is nothing wrong with that, what I realised was that inevitably, I started to live my life for the sake of showing others, instead of making myself happy. That to me, was pretty ridiculous as I strongly believe in living my life for myself. Putting your phone down encourages you to do things that you are truly comfortable with and that makes you happy. It could be looking like a potato but having the best meal and conversations with your family over dinner (that’s me now on weekends). Try not using your phone for a train ride and look around you, you may discover things you never noticed! Therefore, detoxing helps draw us back to living our lives with utmost authenticity, in a way we love, instead of a way that would look good to others.
Credits: JHS Black and White
Thirdly, being away from social media platforms actually helps you to live in the moment. As cliche as it sounds, I myself am guilty of being swarmed by the need of getting an Instagrammable picture when I visited attractions, instead of actually appreciating their beauty. While documenting such precious moments is great to look back on, we should not let such a need rob us of immersing ourselves fully in experiences of a lifetime.
Last but by no means least, practising social media detox helps cultivate mindfulness. Taking conscious efforts to get off such platforms help us gain better control over our digital habits and track the amount of time spent scrolling through our feeds. For myself, I found that I became more mindful of my emotions as I discovered that certain sightings did not make me feel as good as the rest. From there, I filtered away content that would make me feel somewhat negative, and kept those that inspired me. Being mindful of time also helps with time management. Since I started practising detoxing, I am better able to gauge how much time I spend on social media and then manage my usage more efficiently. Greater mindfulness also encourages mental wellness as it helps fill your mind with more positivity and filters out negativity more effectively whenever necessary. Therefore, social media detox is imperative in achieving mindfulness and in turn positive mental well-being.
If you still have the lingering thought of: doesn’t deleting Instagram stop me from keeping up with my friends and distance me from them? Fret not, there are lots of alternatives to scrolling through your feed, like ringing up the friend you care about to ask them about their day, or writing them a nice letter using the time you freed up from the detox.
I hope you are somewhat convinced by now. If you are thinking to try it out, here are some steps you can take to kickstart your very own social media detox journey! Firstly, you could tell the people around you to increase accountability. Secondly, delete the application (out of sight, out of mind!). This really helps to keep you away from accessing the platform. Thirdly, set some goals during the period of detox! With more free time at hand, what do you want to achieve? More exercise per week, spending more quality time with your loved ones, or perhaps more sleep? Detoxing is a great way to ‘gain’ more time to do work during weeks when you really need all the time to prepare for your upcoming exams or rush to meet deadlines.
All in all, I highly encourage you who are reading this to try out a social media detox. It may be difficult at first, but I assure you that you will walk away with a more ‘cleansed’ mind. The key in maintaining positive mental health while using such platforms would be striking a good balance. With that, I wish you all the best!
Written by Ting Yu. Ting Yu is an undergraduate in SMU pursuing Psychology. She is a writer who aims to raise greater awareness on mental health in Singapore, and to learn alongside with the readers.