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I love social media. It allows me to stay connected to family in different cities and states. It lets me talk to friends I have in other countries. It's all right there at my fingertips — with the push of a button I can share a photo, post a thought, or tell someone I'm thinking of them. I can't imagine a life without social media.
But sometimes it gets overwhelming. I find myself hovering, waiting for a Snapchat or checking my likes on Instagram. The notifications rarely stop, and each one that pops up on my phone is a distraction.
Because of this, I often find myself needing time away. Every few months, I stop using my favorite social media apps so I can refresh my mind, body, and soul. Here’s what happens when I take a social media break, and why you might want to try it, too.
I Sleep Better
My sleep improves dramatically when I take a social media break. I fall asleep sooner, sleep through the night, and wake up feeling more refreshed. This leads to me feeling happier and more prepared to take on the day.
There are a few reasons taking a break helps with my sleep. I usually end up turning off my phone and laptop a while before I go to bed, so a screen isn’t the last thing I see before I fall asleep. I also don’t feel as anxious or stressed, so it easier for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. Whenever I realize I’ve fallen into a pattern of extremely poor sleep, I take a break from social media to improve my sleep.
I Live in the Moment
I often forget to live in the moment. Taking a break from social media reminds me to stop and enjoy myself. Instead of taking videos for Snapchat during a concert, I enjoy the concert. I spend time actually talking to the person I’m with instead of trying to get the perfect shot of my meal for Instagram. I don’t spend time posting about the movie I’m watching on Facebook, and instead just watch the movie.
I often don’t realize how much I miss when I’m using social media. Taking a break gives me the chance to live a fuller life and reminds me to slow down when I do go back on social media. Not everything needs to be a post.
I Spend More Time with Friends and Family
Don’t get me wrong—I spend a lot of time with friends and family. But taking a social media break allows me to really spend time with them. It all comes back to living in the moment.
Instead of checking my phone for new Snapchats or Facebook notifications, I can be completely involved in any conversations or activities I have with my friends or family. I don’t have to resist the urge to check my phone during dinner, or glance down at it involuntarily while talking to a friend. Taking a break reminds me how nice it is to just spend time with the people around me.
I'm More Motivated
Every time I take a social media break, I want to do things. Breaks are usually when I start exercising, eating healthier, and working on projects. Instead of thinking about how much I want to do something, I just do it.
Social media is a great place to get inspiration, but it can be so easy to get caught up in looking, rather than doing. I find myself spending hours on Pinterest looking at crafts, but not making them (or if I do, I barely start them before finding a new project to work on). I do the same thing on Instagram and YouTube, looking at makeup tutorials or at-home workouts without actually trying them. Taking a break gives me the motivation to do the things I want to do by removing distractions.
My Mental Health Improves
One of the best parts of a social media break is the impact it has on my mental health. I feel less anxious and depressed when I take a break, because I eliminate stressors in my life that are caused by social media.
I have the unhealthy habit of comparing my life to the lives of others. Although I stage all of my photos for Instagram and only post about the fun things I do on Facebook, I find it easy to forget that others do the same. I end up looking at other people’s profiles and feeling inadequate, which causes more anxiety and can leave me feeling upset about my own life.
Taking a break from social media gives me some peace of mind, and reminds me that you only see the life others want you to see. So it’s okay if mine isn’t perfect.
I Focus on What's Important
Being a student is a lot of work, and social media can be a big distraction. In addition to not getting distracted throughout the day, taking a social media break is a good way for me to refocus on my school work. I have more time to complete assignments, as well as study. I often take breaks right before midterms or final exams, because it makes me that much more focused.
But it’s not just homework I have more time with; it’s everything. I have more time to write, which is what I’m doing with my life. It also gives me time to take care of important things I might otherwise push to the side, like applying for scholarships. Taking a break from social media lets me focus on what’s really important by removing a distraction that only seems important at the time.
I Don't Feel as Addicted When I Return
This is my favorite thing about taking a break from social media: when I log back on, I don't feel the need to catch up on everything I've missed. Taking time away from an app I spend too much time on makes me realize just how much time I spend on it, which influences my activity when I return.
That break gets rid of my need to scroll through Instagram every few minutes, or refresh my Facebook feed to see if there's anything new. Instead, I end up spending less time on the app and not caring that I'm not seeing every single thing.
After a while, when I do start spending more time than I should using social media, I take another break. If it's one app in particular, I just quit using that one. If it's more than one, I stop using all of them. If someone has something important enough to share, or I want to catch up with someone, I can call or text them. Otherwise, I take another break and refresh.
Sometimes I stay off of a site for a few days, sometimes for a couple of weeks, and sometimes for almost a month. What’s important is that I take whatever time I need until I feel like myself again.
Social media is fun, but you shouldn’t feel addicted to it. If you feel like social media is overwhelming you, it’s okay to take a step back. Refresh and reacquaint yourself with your life!