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Smartphones. We can’t live without them, or so it seems. In this day of interconnectedness, you probably feel it’s impossible to curb your social media habits. We need to check on every email that pings on our phones. Even Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram have taken a significant portion of our lives.

If you’ve found yourself looking more and more at your phone, and less and less at the people you love, it might be time to take a break from social media.

Why disconnect?

Although there is a myriad of great things about social media, it can also negatively impact our lives. Try logging how much time you spend on social media during any particular day. Most of us would be discouraged to discover that our social media habits are taking up much more time than we thought.

Think of the things you could do or accomplish with that extra time. And it’s not only time. Think about the content of what you are looking at. Are you getting sucked into the drama, political discussions, or self-esteem-crushing comparisons often found on social media? Would your life be enhanced by replacing that content with other things like good books, time with friends, or just time for self-reflection?

Disconnecting from the internet is not an easy task. Short of going somewhere without reception, you’ll have to take some measures to do it yourself. Try these ideas to help disconnect from the constant pull of posts, emails, and tweets.

Go cold turkey

Social media is hard to cut out because it’s such a big part of our everyday interactions and time usage. If you feel you’re ready for a social media break, think about quitting cold turkey for a time. Plan your break for when you really want to be able to focus on what’s going on around you. Think of an upcoming vacation. Commit yourself to a certain period of time and stick to it. It might be hard at first, but by the end of your time period, you’ll love the freedom your social media break provides.

Uninstall your favorite apps

If you want to spend less time looking at your phone, uninstall your favorite apps from your smartphone. If you spend way too much time scrolling through Instagram, remove that app from your phone. Tell yourself you can still look at Instagram on your computer, but not on your phone. Cutting off that quick and easy access will help you break the habit of looking at your phone several times a day to check it.

Check your notification settings

Are you getting notifications for everything that happens on your social media platforms? It might be time to check your notification settings so you’re only getting the most important ones. If email is a temptation, set your phone so you won’t be notified every time you get a new email. Disable notifications for the apps that don’t directly benefit your day-to-day life. You won’t miss the constant updates.

Choose your favorite

Minimize the number of social media apps you let consume your life and delete the rest. You don’t have to keep up with every social media platform available. Just choose your favorite and let the rest go.

Put your phone away

When you know you’re going to need to focus, simply put your phone away. Out with friends? Leave your phone in the car. Playing with your kids at the park? Shove your phone in the bottom of the diaper bag. Date night? Leave your phone home. You don’t need to bring your phone with you on every occasion. In fact, disconnecting in short doses will make it easier to enjoy your life and the people around you.

Think before you post

If you’re going to participate in social media, it’s a good idea to follow these dos and don’ts:

  • Do post things when you've had a chance to reflect on what you've written.
  • Don’t post anything when you're upset or under the influence of strong emotion (both anger and alcohol can make otherwise smart people post dumb things).
  • Do post things that are uplifting to you and others.
  • Don’t post things late at night when you could be sleeping.
  • Do consider the effect social media has on you.
  • Don’t have an open-ended period where you mindlessly drift to wherever social media takes you.
In today’s world, it’s hard to get away from social media entirely. But, taking the time to disconnect online and reconnect with the world can be a good way to refocus your time and attention to what is most important. Find more ways to help you live your healthiest life possible at IntermountainHealthcare.org/blogs.