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Signs You Need a Social Media Break and How to Take One

Last updated November 30, 2023


Do you ever get tired of endlessly scrolling through your phone? Do you close Instagram or Twitter feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or even a little jealous? It might be time to take a social media break.

Do I Need a Break From Social Media?

Don’t get us wrong- social media can be a powerful tool to find community, share memories, and learn about important issues. But it can also drain your mental and emotional energy, leaving you to compare yourself to other people and feel insecure about the things you have or the way you look.

These are unfortunate yet normal feelings, and it’s important to start recognizing when you need to take a step back. Even signing off for a few hours at a time can do wonders for your mental health, self esteem, and productivity. Here are a few signs you may be overdue for a social media break:

A woman sitting at a table, concentrating while scrolling through her phone. - Signs You Need a Social Media Break and How to Take One

Signs You Need a Social Media Break

You worry about missing out

The fear of missing out (aka FOMO) is making a huge return. Just remember that not everyone is out having fun 24/7 - people just curate their social media to make it seem that way. When you find yourself feeling left out, it may be time to stop scrolling.

You compare yourself to other people, even ones you don’t know

While jealousy is a totally normal feeling, social media has the potential to heighten the feeling until it leaves us feeling terrible about ourselves- what we feel we’re lacking, what we wish we had, or even the way we look. Taking a step back after recognizing these feelings is a great way to practice some self-care and honor your unique path. There will never be anyone like you- don’t spend valuable time comparing yourself to others!

You have a hard time forming your own opinions

It’s easy to form opinions about current events trending on social media, even if we don’t have all the facts. Taking some time away from your screen will give you more time and space to think for yourself and form your own opinions, instead of being bombarded with other people's opinions online. (Having trouble making sense of what you see online? Check out our 5 tips to spot fake news!)

Prioritizing other things feels difficult

Social media is literally designed to capture as much of our attention as possible. This makes doing more important things- like working, exercising, painting, or reading- feel so much harder than usual. Step away for an hour at a time to focus on other activities that make you happy, and when you’re done, you can return to social media to share what you’ve made or learned with your friends and family!

You feel disconnected from your loved ones

Social media is a world of its own, but it’s not the one you live in. Staying glued to your phone can create a divide between you and your loved ones- and may leave you feeling out of touch with what’s really going on around you. Check in with your loved ones more often outside of social media to connect in a more personal way.

You often find yourself trapped in “doomscrolling”

Doomscrolling is the act of endlessly scrolling through negative or distressing content online, often related to current events. Constant exposure to negative news can lead to anxiety, stress, and a sense of hopelessness. 

Limiting doomscrolling is crucial, especially for students, since it can have negative effects on mental health. When you scroll through a constant influx of distressing information, it can contribute to feelings of overwhelm and make it difficult to focus on your academic responsibilities.

How to Effectively Take a Social Media Break

Stepping back from social media doesn't mean saying goodbye forever. If you find it draining your energy, taking an intentional break can boost your mental health, self-confidence, and focus. When you're back, you’ll gain a better understanding of your social media habits and find ways to use it positively. Try these tips when planning your next social media break:

  1. Set time limits. Allocate specific times for social media use and stick to them.

  2. Curate your feed. Unfollow accounts that consistently share distressing content. It’s ok to take breaks if you are being triggered.

  3. Engage in activities that bring you joy. Replace doomscrolling with activities that uplift and inspire you!

Looking for more ways to use social media for good? Check out our tips on how to use social media responsibly!

Tips for Helping Friends Take a Break from Social Media

With many people using social media these days, chances are your friends might be feeling the same way about needing a social media break. Doing something together can offer mutual support, and serve as a reminder that you're not facing things alone. Helping your friends cut down on negative social media intake? Here are ways to support and uplift each other:

  1. Encourage breaks. Remind friends to take breaks from social media for their mental well-being.

  2. Share positive content. Actively share uplifting and positive content to counteract negativity in feeds.

  3. Promote open conversations. Create an environment where friends feel comfortable discussing their online experiences and supporting each other in maintaining a healthy balance. 

It’s okay to take a break! Social media will always be there when you’re ready to come back, but it’s important to know when to step back to protect your mental health. Looking for new activities to replace spending time on social media? Why not journal, volunteer online, or start a new side hustle?

Any tips for making social media breaks a bit easier? Leave us a comment on Instagram @getschooled or text #Hello to 33-55-77 to let us know! If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you.

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