Do you ever turn to your phone when you’re depressed, anxious, or lonely, only to find that a few minutes of scrolling only makes things worse?
Does posting to your feed ever feel obligatory rather than joyous?
Recently, Healthline and several celebrities and influencers collaborated on a social media detox to explore the mental health benefits of taking a break from social media.
Here, Colton Underwood and Kelly Uchima share their experience unplugging from their streams and getting a much-needed break to watch the world through a 6-inch screen.
Colton Underwood is a former football player who found reality TV fame on “The Bachelor” and the Netflix series “Coming Out Colton.”
Underwood came out as gay in 2021, surprising fans by publicly sharing his story and embracing who he is. He grew up Catholic and struggled to come to terms with his sexuality, which he had been aware of since high school, he said in an interview.
After experiencing self-hatred, suicidal thoughts, and praying to be “cured” of his sexuality, Underwood finally found self-acceptance.
What detox was like
Asked about information gathered while attending Healthline’s social media detox, Underwood talks about being present.
“It’s so nice to be 100% present and in the moment,” he says. “I wasn’t afraid to take a picture or share my experience…I have to live it.”
Although the benefits are obvious, Underwood says the habit was hard to break at first, especially in the first few hours.
“I found myself browsing [my phone] in the reckless search for social applications,” he says. “It’s crazy how muscle memory works!”
Make new habits
After getting used to the change, Underwood says he felt an occasional twinge of FOMO (fear of missing out) but an overall sense of relief and calm.
“I spent my time going for walks, working out, cleaning the house and calling my family,” he says. “I loved my break.”
When asked if he would make social media breaks a regular thing, Underwood was enthusiastic.
“I think I’ll start doing it every Friday,” he says. “What a great way to reset and recalibrate in a very different way.”
Kelly Uchima (aka Kelly U) is a content creator who shares her experiences with eating disorders, depression, family trauma, and an abusive relationship. She inspires body confidence, self-love and sobriety, helping others on similar journeys feel less alone.
Uchima believes in healing, no matter how deep the trauma.
In her Therapy Thursday podcast, she shares lessons she’s learned from her own experiences in therapy and beyond, helping others implement the same tools in their lives.
What detox was like
After participating in Healthline’s Digital Detox, Uchima says she had a lot of different feelings.
“I felt 10 times more connected to myself but completely disconnected from the rest of the world,” she says. “It’s fascinating that such a healthy break can feel so isolating.”
Part of the challenge for Uchima was that she felt she wasn’t doing enough professionally.
“Since my full-time job is social media and content creation, it’s hard to take breaks and feel ‘productive’. I feel like I’m missing opportunities to post meaningful content , connect with my audience, drive engagement, or drive more brands with my production,” she says.
Although difficult, Uchima stuck to it. Eventually, she found her own tools to manage the urge to connect.
“When I notice my urge to pick up my phone just to stay busy, I pause and breathe,” she says. “It sounds corny, but it helps to reset, to check in with myself and ask, ‘What do you need right now?’ My answer is never “my phone”.
Instead, Uchima realizes that her needs tend to be simple when she slows down and checks in:
“So I pick one and do it!” she says.
She also noticed the deeper motives behind the urge to engage.
“I’m often on the phone because I feel like I’m missing something,” she says. “I want to see the number of likes, comments and incoming messages, and I also want to scroll and see what other people are doing.”
Instead, Uchima walked out of the house.
Make new habits
“I was going out a lot more. More sunshine, more walks and trips to the farmers market for my two favorite things right now: avocados and raspberries. »
When asked how she felt following the challenge, she said she felt calmer, more present and more grounded.
“The biggest difference was my energy level. I felt more awake, aware and engaged with the people around me – especially myself,” Uchima says. The experience was “100% positive”.
As for plans for future breaks, Uchima is on board.
“Social media breaks are difficult but necessary,” she says. “I have no excuse except to take longer breaks more often. I feel more creative and inspired when I look at my screen a lot less. It’s a great achievement.
Want to try a social media detox? These simple tips can help you get started.
Create a phone-free space at home
Having a physical space designated as a phone-free zone can help you detach from your flow and cultivate peace of mind.
Similar to a mindfulness nook, this can be a nook in the living room with the comfiest chair where light just streams in, or a small nook in your bedroom where you can decorate with pillows and candles.
When you find yourself reaching for your phone, consider taking a break from your phone-free sanctuary instead.
Listen to music, listen to a podcast, solve a puzzle or just relax a little. Simply giving yourself the intentional space to relax in other ways can make all the difference.
Put your phone in a drawer
Similar to creating a phone-free zone, this strategy works by making a conscious effort to retrieve your phone.
Instead of in your back pocket or on your bedside table, giving your phone a new home in a drawer makes it a little harder to reach. This means that when the impulse arises, you have the opportunity to think twice.
When you do, you can check with yourself with these questions:
- Do you really need your phone right now?
- Do you have a particular reason for using it?
- Are you just getting out of boredom?
Then you can decide if you want to take your phone out to see the light of day.
Install a social media tracking app
There are many apps that can help you track and limit your social media usage. Many of them have built-in limits that block the apps you choose once you hit your max time.
Unpluq is an application with a unique solution. Instead of requiring a password or blocking you from using your phone, Unpluq uses “distraction barriers” to prevent you from mindlessly using your phone.
These are actions that require a bit of investment to unlock specific apps so you have a moment to really decide if it’s worth it. Actions include shaking your phone, repeating a random pattern generated by your phone, or scanning a QR code.
Unpluq is even working on a Kickstarter for a physical key that needs to be near your phone for certain apps to be used.
Do it with friends
Instead of flying solo when you choose to take a break from social media, ask a few friends to do it with you.
Not only will this create a sense of togetherness and responsibility, but it can help you overcome FOMO when you feel isolated.
Instead of scrolling, you can schedule a group video call, coffee shop meetup, or board game meeting. Need advice on getting out of your shell? Try these tips.
Choose specific times to check your feeds
You can also designate specific times of the day for social media use.
Instead of scrolling during the morning meeting, set aside half an hour during your lunch break to check your diet without distraction. Maybe you still have half an hour to get home and another after dinner.
Alternatively, you can even block your calendar with times to check your stream. Set reminders, like a meeting or a date, and note if you actually want to use that time to scroll or if you’d rather do something else.
Keep it in airplane mode
Airplane mode can make your phone feel like you’re in a cloudless sky: no notifications shooting at you, no missed calls, and no voicemails to catch up on.
Notifications are designed to create a sense of urgency, but the reality is that you have to decide what’s important and what’s not.
Just deleting all that noise from your home screen can help you remember that your phone isn’t the boss. You are. You can turn off airplane mode and check your messages when you’re good and ready.
Make a plan that can get you excited
If you choose to take a complete break from social media, don’t put yourself at risk by leaving a huge gaping hole in your schedule. Instead, put yourself forward about the things you want to do instead of staring at a screen.
Plan to walk your dog to a new park, rummage through that book you’ve had on your reading list all year, or finally redecorate that bathroom. Even small things can be sources of joy.
If you shift your focus away from likes and comments and onto something inspiring, exciting, or fulfilling, you’ll have a much better chance of enjoying your social break – and sticking to your guns when it suits you. seems difficult.
Social media is just a part of life these days, but that doesn’t mean it has to control you.
It’s possible to use social media in a beneficial way that doesn’t take over your life or your sanity.
Healthy boundaries are essential, and you may find that they help enrich your life with more off-screen presence, flavor, and engagement than you realize.
Crystal Hoshaw is a lifelong mom, writer, and yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gymnasiums, and one-on-one sessions in Los Angeles, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares mindful strategies for self-care through online courses at SimpleWildFree.com. Follow her on Instagram.