March 26 2024 – Delikate Rayne

Information can be overwhelming, whether it’s news about politics, notifications from work, or scrolling through your Instagram feed. And while connecting with others is helpful, the onslaught can make us feel tired, overwhelmed, or insecure. If you find yourself feeling more tired after using social media, then it might be worth considering unplugging. 
Unplugging refers to taking time away from social media. Scales vary, as some people do entire ‘digital detoxes’ or ‘cleansing’ by deleting all their apps, but unplugging can be as simple as putting your phone on mute for a few hours to make time for yourself away from the Internet. 

What’s important is that you reflect on your social media use and identify what makes you feel uncomfortable, and try to remedy those habits. If Instagram throws you lives that feel too perfect to be true that trigger negative feelings, then it’s okay to avoid checking the app daily or even deleting the app for a while. If you have more subscriptions than you use, feel free to unsubscribe and cut down the messages you receive. If you feel like you scroll too much before you go to bed, you can set limits on your phone to lock apps at a certain time. For how long you do any of the unplugging activities is also completely up to you. There are lots of ways to unplug, so, as always, do what feels best. 

If you’re happy with your social media use, then you are welcome to not change your habits at all. In fact, it is also important to not guilt yourself into changing something you are already happy about. But if you’re still interested in unplugging for other reasons, then you are always welcome to try. 

Here are some benefits to unplugging from digital media: 

  • Improved sleep - Artificial light emitted by electronic devices is known for interfering with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which can make sleeping difficult after using a screen. Unplugging will likely give you more time away from the screen at night, which could help you fall asleep. 
  • Improved focus and productivity - Unplugging from your mobile device, especially during work, could facilitate your focus and productivity by minimizing distractions and interruptions. The presence of screens in social settings are also often distracting, even for people who are not using them. 
  • Supports your mental health - Social media use can stir up feelings of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem for being left out. Stepping away could help limit the triggers for those emotions and decreases the need to compare yourself to others. Unplugging could also help alleviate the pressure of having to immediately respond to messages.  
  • Helps prioritize time for personal interaction - If you’re no longer on Facebook or Instagram, you can find other ways to interact with the ones close to you, and those alternate methods are often more meaningful than just pressing a like button. It could be a phone call, writing a letter, or meeting them in person. Being away from social media gives you a chance to be more intentional with your interactions. 
  • Helps free up your time - If you’ve ever planned on being on your phone for five minutes, only for the time to get away from you, then unplugging could give you back some of that time. The time that could have been used for scrolling could now be used for all the things you’ve wanted to do, be it cooking, going for a walk, painting, anything! We only have 24 hours in a day, and it’s important to be intentional with your time. 
The duration of your “unplugging” is entirely up to you, and you could even keep some of the habits you’ve picked up. Maybe you liked being on Twitter for only a couple minutes a day, or prefer having work notifications muted on Sunday. Let yourself have the time to spend away from the digital world as needed, because you will come back feeling refreshed and well-rested. As novelist Anne Lamott says, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”