6 Tips to Detox From Social Media

Do you find yourself obsessively checking Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram throughout the day and night? If social media plays an outsize role in your life—and is beginning to interfere with your mood, work, sleep, or relationships—it may be time to take a break.

Two studies in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found a connection between being on Facebook and feeling depressed. In both studies, the researchers blame the fact that people compare themselves with their peers online—and find themselves coming up short.

Research at Cornell University has also found that when people invest extensive energy interacting with others on social networking websites, this can be at the expense of other, more personal relationships. Excessive social media use has also been found to interfere with sleep and reduce workplace productivity.

"We are so consumed with our cell phones that we do not fully experience our relationships and our conversations," explains Camille Charbonneau, founder and lead mental performance consultant at Peak Perform in Montreal, a company that teaches clients the skills needed to set and achieve goals, manage time, and reduce stress. "Everyone is so worried about missing out that they need to constantly be on Instagram and Facebook looking at all their friends' lives. But the truth is this makes you miss out on your own life."

How to Detox From Social Media

If you want to take a break from the constant onslaught of social media, Charbonneau offers the following common-sense tips:

1. Start Off on the Right Foot

"Once your alarm goes off in the morning, put the phone away. Don't get consumed by checking emails, Facebook, and Instagram posts," Charbonneau says. "Enjoy your breakfast, enjoy the process." Being in the moment can help you make the most of your day right from the start.

2. Fit Social Media Use Into Your Schedule

"Turn off your notifications," Charbonneau advises. "If you don't get updates and messages on your phone, then you won't feel obliged to answer or comment on them. Instead, check your messages and posts when it fits into your schedule, such as at lunchtime or when you have a quick break."

3. Use Triggers to Manage Your Social Media Use

"Develop a cue or reminder to stay off social media. This could be a verbal or physical cue. When you realize that you have been Facebook stalking for too long, use the cue to help you switch off social media and on to something more productive."

4. Use Social Media as a Reward System

"Instead of procrastinating on Facebook, get through your to-do list one bullet [point] at time, and then reward yourself with a few minutes of social media." Just be sure to keep your usage to only a few minutes. Otherwise you may find yourself staying up half the night checking people’s status updates, playing Facebook games, or answering the latest quizzes.

5. Prioritize Face Time

"When you’re with other people, put your phone away or turn off notifications so you don't get distracted." This is important because being on the phone, computer, or tablet really interferes with positive social interactions. If you must check your phone because you are waiting for an important message, then restrict your usage to when you're taking a quick bathroom break—don't constantly check your phone or ignore your companions. "If you are worried about missing an emergency, turn off all notifications besides your ringtone."

6. Surround Yourself With People With Good Social Media Habits

When the people around you value human interactions, you’ll have much more satisfying relationships and you may just find that you don’t need that Facebook fix to fill the void.

Are You Ready?

"Most people think they will not be able to survive without their phones. Do you think you cannot get off social media for more than two hours? I dare you to try it," Charbonneau challenges. "Put your phone or laptop away and do something else. Once you’re consumed in another activity, you’ll totally forget about it and social media will not seem that important. You’ll notice that it's not that bad, and you'll begin to appreciate the small things that you didn't notice before."

Keep in mind that a social media detox isn’t an all or nothing proposition—you can cut back in small steps. Your quality of life will be all the better for it.

Camille Charbonneau reviewed this article.


Charbonneau, Camille. Peak Perform. Email interview, May 2, 2016.

"Cornell Research: These Factors Might Explain Why We Can—or Can’t—Quit Facebook." Cornell University. December 10, 2015.

Jung, Brian. "The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals." The Chronicle: Small Businesses. Accessed June 10, 2016.

Steers, Mai-Ly N., Wickham, Robert E., Acitelli, Linda K. "Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms." Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 33(8) (2014): 701-731.