Are you feeling anxious every time you check your social media feed? In a world filled with an overwhelming amount of information and unsettling news, you might occasionally contemplate deleting your social media accounts and never returning. However, that's when the fear of missing out (FOMO) often creeps in. So, what should you do? In this article, we will guide you on how to overcome social media addiction in a healthy manner.
Why you might need to decrease your social media activity?
In the 2020 Netflix documentary, "The Social Dilemma," tech leaders from major internet platforms shed light on the detrimental consequences of excessive social network usage. Prominent figures from Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube confessed to their own struggles in resisting the dopamine-driven feedback loop created by their platforms.
More recently, advances in neuroscience have unveiled the biological underpinnings of social media addiction. Research has pinpointed specific brain regions, including the nucleus accumbens, as central players in the reward pathways associated with social media engagement. Notably, these same brain regions are implicated in substance use disorders, likening the impact of social networks on dopamine release to that of drugs and alcohol.
While social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, just like alcohol, cigarettes, and other bad habits, it's essential to maintain self-control to prevent overuse. There are signs that can alert us to possible addiction and ways to reduce social media consumption and reconnect with real life.
How to realize the need to get rid of social media
Sometimes, realizing that you need to quit social media can take some time and reflection. However, there are some clear signs that you need to reduce your social media consumption or cut it off completely.
- Feeling anxious when not using social media, coupled with a sense of isolation or loneliness when logging off.
- Neglecting daily responsibilities due to excessive social media use.
- Easily getting distracted while using social media.
- Noticing mood changes before and after using social media.
- Losing motivation to engage in activities outside of your smartphone or tablet.
This list is not exhaustive, but if you recognize some of these signs, it's crucial to take action and address your social media addiction.
What are the ways that will help me reduce my social media consumption?
- First of all, turn off all the notifications you receive from social media apps. This will help you stop getting distracted by apps and stay focused on your current tasks.
- Set screen time limits and adhere to them. You can do it via settings on your phone or tablet.
- Decide at what time of the day you stop using your mobile phone and the apps in it. For example, it can be 7 PM when you know that there will be no work messages or calls, and important calls from your close ones will get through anyway, since you don't switch off your phone completely. Leave your device far from your bed before going to sleep to start relaxing and not getting anxious or disturbed by scrolling the news.
- Find outdoor activities that make you happy and practice them regularly to feel alive in real life and release endorphins.
As a more drastic step, delete social media apps from your phone once and for all. This way, you'll be able to check the feed from your web or mobile browser, which can be a less convenient option.
What to do if my work is based on social media?
For those of us whose work revolves around social media, quitting it can be a challenging task. However, there are some solutions:
- Select the accounts and social media networks that you use for work and focus on them. Consider quitting any other social media accounts you use for personal interests. This will help you stop checking your newsfeed during your free time.
- Channel your attention. Try to organize all your social media work-related tasks in one place, for instance, in a separate browser window. After work, close the window to shift your focus back to your personal life.
- Acknowledge your efforts and express gratitude to yourself. Quitting social media can be a challenge, similar to quitting smoking or drinking. Therefore, pat yourself on the back every time you choose to do something else instead of procrastinating on social media.