Social media addiction is a growing problem that often goes unnoticed. What starts as casual socialization turns into a long-lasting addiction with significant consequences. If you have experienced some of the signs of social media addiction, there are steps you can take to change your habits for the better. Here is a guide explaining how to stop social media addiction, courtesy of our addiction recovery offices in Chicago, IL.
The Effects of Social Media Addiction
Before we talk about social media addiction recovery, we need to emphasize the dangers of excessive social media usage. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat naturally fuel addiction. When you get a notification, your brain feels like it’s getting rewarded. You continue to post, comment and like to enhance that feeling.
Here’s what happens in the process:
- Depression symptoms increase because your brain stops producing “happy chemicals.” Soon the only way you feel happy is from social media.
- Self-esteem decreases because you’re constantly comparing yourself to other people. You’re only seeing a filtered version of their lives, but that doesn’t stop the grass-is-greener mentality.
- You become socially isolated because you’re disconnected from the real world. The augmented reality you see online becomes more desirable than spending time with friends and family.
- Work productivity dwindles because your mind is constantly elsewhere. You may even break the rules at work just to check your accounts.
- You begin assigning value to your life based on other people’s opinions. The number of likes and positive comments you receive dictate your actions moving forward.
- You lose sleep at night thinking about social media or checking your phone for messages. This leads to sleep deprivation, which makes you irritable and fatigued the following day.
We could go on, but you get the idea. Social media addiction may not destroy your health in the traditional sense, but it can do major damage to your life. Our goal is to help you avoid that.
Take a 30 Day Break from Social Media
Some research shows that habits are formed after 21 days. However, there is no definitive answer for how long it takes to break a bad habit. That’s why we recommend taking a full 30 day break from all social media. You don’t have to delete your accounts. Just disable them temporarily and log off all devices you were once active on.
This cold-turkey method may seem harsh, but it will retrain your brain. You may experience withdrawals during the first week, much like you would with drug or alcohol addiction recovery. After that though, you will start to see value in other elements of your life. Spend time with friends in person, discover a new hobby, or enjoy your new-found peace and quiet. You might be surprised by how great life is once the filters are turned off.
Limit Your Access to One Device
When you get back on social media, only allow yourself access on one device. This will most likely be your personal phone, but it could be a tablet or a computer in your house. Don’t get on social media unless you are on that device. You will automatically spend less time online than you did before because you cannot open a new tab/app to quickly check your Facebook. You won’t be distracted at work, and you won’t feel consumed by social media.
Set Times for Social Media Access
Assign a time to check your social media accounts. This could be a general timeframe, like “while I’m eating” or “after the kids go to bed.” It could also be a specific time of day, like “3 PM to 4 PM.” If you allow yourself to have unlimited access to social media, you’re going to find excuses to get online. “Oh, I’m just going to check this real quick and then get back to work.” An hour later, you’re still scrolling through cute cat montages.
Avoid checking social media right before work or bed. Chances are you’ll see something that gets your mind racing, and that’s all you’ll be thinking about for the next hour. Don’t let anything come between you and your productivity.
Work with an Addiction Counselor to Control Future Temptations
The best way to stop social media addiction is to work with an addiction counselor. You will learn valuable tools to conquer temptation and fight the urge to constantly be on social media. The process is similar to other addiction recovery programs, but it focuses heavily on “Why?” Why do you feel the need to get approval from others? Why does the internet feel safer than real world events at times? Get to the root cause of your addiction and tackle it head-first, all with the help of an experienced addiction therapist.
To learn about addiction counseling in Chicago, IL, contact Urban Balance at (888) 726-7170 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.