Happy New Year! Now that 2016 is finally in the rearview mirror, we’re officially looking forward to all of the new and exciting things 2017 has in store. Like everybody else, we’ve set some goals and resolutions for the new year. Some will be easier to keep than others, but the most important resolution we’ve set for this year is hitting the brakes on our social media obsession. We don’t know about you, but things have gotten a bit out of hand and it’s time to do something about it. We’re certainly not advocating a Marie Kondo–style rejection of all things social media. But we are going to make a concerted effort to put down our screens for a bit longer each day and be more present in the world around us. That’s right: 2017 will be the year we break our social media addiction. How, you ask? Read on for our top eight tips on curbing your dependence on social media!
Think about what’s driving your desire to constantly check in on social media. Chances are it’s a fear of missing out on something. The latest news, trend, meme… It can seem like there is always something new happening in the digital universe. But if you think about it, how much of that is actually, truly new? We’ve certainly gone back to the Instagram well several times in a two-hour span to find just one or two new pieces of content and wondered why we bothered in the first place. And when we’ve waited an hour or so to check our feed(s) instead of every time we felt the urge, we’ve had a richer, more interesting user experience.
That’s why the first thing to do is ask yourself why you find yourself checking social media all the time. And don’t be embarrassed to ask friends and family to weigh in. Involving them in this journey will help you feel accountable. It may be a difficult conversation, but you’ll receive objective, candid feedback about your behavior that will enable you to fully assess your situation and help you move forward.
Cull Your Feed
Once you’ve looked inward and examined the reasons behind your dependence on social media, the next thing to do is cull your feed. We all start following new people for one reason or another, but those reasons may no longer be relevant. So much about social media is about keeping up with the Joneses. So, harsh though it may seem, be ruthless and only follow accounts that add something positive to your life. That means unfollowing people whose feed makes you feel bad about your clothes, bank account, or vacation plans.
Disable Your Notifications
One of the easiest ways to weaken the pervasive pull of social media is to turn off all of your notifications. When trying to reset your relationship with social media, those pop-ups are not your friend. So do yourself a favor and eliminate the temptation by deactivating each and every notification (except emergency alerts). And once you’ve figured out which ones you really can’t live without (like the news) you can start turning them on one at a time. But here, you need to be just as merciless as you were in culling your feed and think about the notifications that will serve you the best.
Whenever we’re feeling overwhelmed by the things on our many screens, we go outside—and leave our phones behind. There’s nothing like a walk and fresh air to clear our heads, keep us grounded, and put things in perspective. Sure, you may miss a chance to ‘gram that amazing entryway, #flora, or view, but you’ll still have experienced it and the quiet time you’ve spent sans tech will propel you through the rest of your day in a balanced, centered way.
Get an Alarm Clock
So many of us have given up on traditional alarm clocks and use our phones instead. And it makes sense: Alarm clocks are often ugly and bulky, taking up valuable real estate on our tabletops. But using our phones as alarm clocks has also resulted in us scrolling through our social media feeds within minutes of waking up, which sets the tone for the rest of our day. An easy way to cut down on your social media intake is to get yourself a good, old-fashioned alarm clock and leave your phone in another room overnight. This will help you get up with a clear head, thinking about something other than the latest news in your Twitter feed.
Establish Ground Rules
Let’s be honest: there are times when it is just plain rude to use your phone, such as when you’re eating a meal, sitting in a meeting, or chatting with a friend. And yet… we often find ourselves reaching for our phone for just one quick peek and while it may seem harmless, it reads as disinterested and ill-mannered—not a message we ever want to communicate. We don’t know about you, but we find that when we set clear rules intended to help us reach a goal, we’re more likely to follow them and achieve our objective.
That’s why another tool in your social-media-breaking toolbox should be your rulebook. Make a list of times during which you will not, under any circumstances (other than an emergency), look at your phone. And start with the interactions we listed above: mealtimes, meetings, and friends. And that includes while you’re waiting for your significant other to return from the restroom. It’s actually pretty empowering to see how long you can just sit in silence and observe the world around you. Give it a go!
Do Something Centering
When schedules are hectic, finding time to relax can feel like a chore. But during those times of frenzy and chaos, it’s even more important to find a way to keep yourself grounded. We often find ourselves looking to social media to take a mental break from all of the other things we have going on. When all we want is a little eye candy to take the edge off, social media is the logical place to turn. But what about closing your eyes and taking 10 deep breaths? It takes about the same amount of time to do that as it does to tap through the latest Snapchat stories but is so much more rewarding. If you have a bit more time on your hands, do some stretches to get your body rebalanced. You’ll feel way better than you would if you’d been craning your neck over a small screen for five minutes.
Read Something Else First
We hate to admit it, but one of the main reasons we find ourselves drifting into the world of social media so frequently is because we’re bored. Whether we’re sitting at home, waiting for the bus, or riding in an Uber, whenever we have a finite amount of downtime between activities, we end up mindlessly scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest because why not? We aren’t doing anything else. But instead of turning to one of your feeds, try doing something a bit more productive: read the news or a book, make a list, call your mom(!). There are plenty of things we can do that don’t involve engaging in social media and feel more rewarding. So when you find yourself with some downtime, and you find your thumb edging towards the Instagram app, open the news, your notes, or your contacts instead.
How do you cope with the constant tug of social media? Tell us about it in the comments below!