Celebrity gossip, trending topics and drama between friends started taking their toll on Marcie Williams a few months ago. Her presence on social media was becoming a burden. So, the Fox 5 Atlanta news producer and mother decided to find some solace by taking a social media break.
“Sometimes I have to give myself that reality check to remember that social media is not real life and I’m not doing as bad as I thought I was,” she continued.
Social media has become integral part of many people’s daily lives, shaping how they connect, share, and consume information. However, the constant exposure to the experiences of others can take a toll on mental health and overall well-being. This has led to a rising trend of intentional breaks or fasts from social media platforms.
Social Media Breaks Are Good for Your Mental Health
One significant reason people take social media breaks is to escape the comparison trap. Constant exposure to the highlight reels of others’ lives can breed unrealistic expectations and a sense of inadequacy. Taking a step back from social media allows individuals to focus on their own accomplishments and aspirations without the distracting influence of others’ perceived successes.
“Social media breaks are so good for my mental health. Working in the broadcast industry and local news creates an information overload for me. Add that to the everyday stressors of life, and it can be overwhelming. Social media is also a place where it’s easy to compare yourself to others, focusing on the highs people display while you are experiencing lows,” explained Williams.
However, FOMO, driven by the constant updates on social media, often hinders individuals from taking the leap to let their accounts go even for a short period of time. The fear of missing out on events and updates can create anxiety, making people reluctant to disconnect.
“To stop the urge to go onto my social media accounts, I log out of each one at the start of my break. Even if I mindlessly press the app on my phone, I’ll quickly remember that I’m not supposed to be on it and will close it out. The older I get, FOMO doesn’t really bother me, so thankfully that is not a major concern,” the news producer shared.
Non-Digital Alternatives to Social Media
Stepping away from social media opens up opportunities to engage in offline activities. Hobbies, sports, and social gatherings provide a refreshing break from the virtual world, promoting real-life connections and experiences.
Reading Hard Copies of Books
The popularity of digital books has given people one more reason to be glued to their devices. If you’re aiming for a social media break, try removing the temptation by getting your phone out of your hands completely when you’re reading. You can do this by getting a hard copy of a book rather than relying on a Kindle or other digital options.
Pick Up a Skill You’ve Been Wanting to Learn
A social media cleanse is a great time to try something new that you’ve been putting off. Anything from a calligraphy class to a swimming lesson could help you improve in different areas of your life. You won’t have time to compare your successes to others as you’ll be so busy adding another skill to your resume.
Explore Less Triggering Social Sites
Instagram, TikTok and even Facebook may trigger you to compare your lives to celebrities or that old classmate from high school. While these sites may be the perfect options to ditch during your cleanse it may not be necessary to go cold turkey. If you still want to feel connected try signing up for X (formally Twitter) or Reddit. These sites are less visually based and can provide a sense of community without making you feel less than.
Developing a Healthier Relationship with Social Platforms
It’s not about abandoning social media entirely but cultivating a mindful and intentional approach to digital engagement. By understanding the reasons behind these breaks and exploring alternative ways to stay connected, individuals can balance the benefits of social interaction and the need for mental well-being. Williams says her alternatives to social have included making more time for those most important to her.
“You can find me journaling, talking on the phone with family and friends, spending more time with my daughter. She will sometimes show me funny things on social media during my break. Also, reading and exercising. As far as a digital activity, I love passing the time by playing Candy Crush,” said Williams.
The news producer says it’s all about figuring out what’s best for you.
“I personally like to give myself a time frame. I want it to start on a certain day, and then I plan for it to end on a certain day,” Williams said. “That’s the planner in me.”