emotional wellbeing

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Dr. Lily Le Ph.D., R. Psych


7 Helpful Ways to Take a Social Media Break

PUBLISHED Oct 26th, 2022 & UPDATED ON Feb 23rd, 2023

It’s 3 A.M. You can count the hours until your alarm on one hand. Your eyes hurt. Your phone is almost dead. You know you should stop scrolling, you know you should go to sleep, but five more minutes couldn’t hurt, right? 

Does this sound familiar? If so, it might be time for a social media break. And no, we don’t want you to delete all your apps and go off the grid. Sometimes, a break is all you need to reset your habits!

Social media has a big effect on our mental health, but it’s not realistic to straight-up delete everything. Social media might be linked to your work. It might be the only way you get updates on your friends and family who live far away, or who you haven’t seen in a while thanks to the pandemic. Whatever reason you have for keeping your social media, we feel you, and we wanna help you take a break from social media without deleting it.

Enough with the preamble! Here are seven helpful ways to take a break from social media.

1. Set App Timers (and Stick with Them)

Okay, raise your hand if you’ve ever had an app timer go off, telling you that you’ve spent an hour on an app, and adjusted the time so you can keep going.

Yeeeahh, same here. That’s totally understandable! Remember, these apps are literally designed to be addictive. So if you find yourself several hours deep in a TikTok scroll, that’s done on purpose by the company. Your eyes = their money. 

Habits are formed when a behaviour gets repeated enough that it becomes unconscious. Great when it comes to brushing your teeth or getting into a flow at work. Not great when you reach for your phone every time you’re bored. The key is to interrupt that behaviour in order to interrupt your brain’s automatic urges.

Next time your app timer goes off, you gotta walk away from your phone. Literally. Put it down and do something else, even if it’s going to the kitchen for a drink, taking a lap around the block, or having a nice, long bath. Your brain might crave that dopamine kick it gets from the app at first, but over time, you’ll feel better walking away from it.

2. No Social Media Sundays

Maybe you can’t step away from social media because it’s necessary for you in some way. Totally fine! But in that case, it could be a good call to take a day or two off per week.

You can start small by designating one day where you don’t check any social media apps (turning off notifications will really help you out here!). If you have anyone who needs to get a hold of you through the apps, let ‘em know that you won’t be available every Sunday, or whatever day you choose. Again, it’s gonna feel weird at first, but soon enough, you’ll go the whole day without even noticing the absence.

Does a whole day feel like too much? We get that. Instead, set a time where you don’t check it. Soooo much scientific data tells you to not use your phone before bed, so make it a habit! Turn those apps off an hour (or more) before bed every night. Not a full day of disconnection, but it’s still helpful! 

3. Use Time Off to Unplug

Combining some time off work or school with a social media break could be a perfect reset for your brain!

Whether you are going to a new destination, or having a staycation, use an extended break to have no social media. The social media cleanse will feel great with the time off! Do anything and everything you wanna do, without constantly checking up on the world. By interrupting the habit, like we said above, you’ll probably realize how much less you could use it in your day-to-day.

4. Replace It with Another Habit

Sometimes, we’re just looking for something to keep us occupied and kill time. Instead of asking yourself, “Should I delete social media?”, instead ask, “Should I pick up a new hobby to spend less time on social media?” 

The answer is yes. Just in case that wasn’t clear. Yes. 

Do your Wordle for the day, crochet, cross stitch, doodle or paint, read a book, play some video games, attempt a crossword without Googling any answers… whatever floats your boat! By replacing some of your social media time with a hobby, you’re well on your way to improving your skills, PLUS those pics of your friend’s new puppy are still there to look at later. Love it.

5. Figure Yourself Out with Journaling

Getting introspective is an important step to finding out why you use social media so much in the first place. 

To do this, start by busting out your journal! Try these prompts:

What is my relationship with social media?

Why do I use it as much as I do?

Do I find social media helpful, harmful, or somewhere in between?

Why do I want to take a social media break?

Getting to know your own motivations can help solidify a change in behaviour. If you find that you’re sick of using social media so much and want to make a change, writing that down can really make it sink in. 

The next time you want to use social media as a knee-jerk reaction to boredom, journal instead! The DiveThru app has tons of prompts, and it’s right there on your phone. Or you can do a mindfulness exercise in the app, a breathing exercise, or read one of our articles. 

Think of it this way. You can either spend time on social media like you have done in the past (even though you reading this article is a big tell that you’d rather not do that). OR, you can change your habit to become more introspective, get to know yourself better, and take on those mental health challenges you’ve been facing. Up to you. We recommend the second one but, y’know, we don’t run your life.

6. Try Mindfulness

Now that you know all about your motivations with social media, it can be a good idea to take a step back and practice mindfulness!

Besides having a whooole bunch of benefits, mindfulness can help you calm down any anxious or stressed thoughts you might have. If you’re using social media as a distraction from something that’s stressing you out, mindfulness can help you confront that stress at the source and to calm your anxious responses down. Less stress and anxiety in your daily life, less turning to social media as a way to distract yourself. It’s a win-win! 

Don’t worry if mindfulness is new to you! It doesn’t come easy to everyone, and your mind might wander while you practice. That’s why we created the 14 Day Mindfulness Practice with Dr. Justin Puder. He’ll give you new methods to use to get into the habit of mindfulness in just two weeks, with video exercises, guided audios, and journal prompts to lock it all in. Check it out in the DiveThru app!

7. Get an Accountability Buddy

Do you and your friend send each other memes on every app, multiple times a day, but you’re both getting sick of the scroll? Then challenge each other to take breaks! 

Forming and breaking habits can be smoother when you have someone else doing it with you. By being accountable to each other, you have another person reminding you of why you’re doing it, which can help motivate you to put the phone down (or to not turn off that app timer for the third time that day). 

Plus, a little competition never hurts. Instead of keeping track of your snapstreak, keep track of your screen time. And if you’re feeling extra competitive, say that whoever has more screen time at the end of the week has to pay for dinner. Who doesn’t love free food??

Now that you have some ideas, go forth and be the most productive, most satisfied, and least distracted social media user, without needing a full delete! 


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