The shiny red notifications. The ‘likes.’ The tags.
Don’t kid yourself — you live for those little guys.
But they’re nothing more than a digital high. Social media is fast becoming an addiction in our hyper-connected world, and it’s silently wrecking you. Maybe you don’t even realize how much you depend on those comments, shares and follows. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s time for a social-media cleanse.
1. You’re uninspired.
Inspired people do inspiring things. Of the 99 billion options, social media is not one. Make room for inspiration in your life by trimming the Facebook fat.
2. Your to-do list never gets done.
One step at a time is the best advice for accomplishing anything. But our modern world begs for a caveat: One uninterrupted step at a time. Social media competes for your focus and swamps your ability to power through work.
Related: 3 Ways to End Technology Distraction
3. You haven’t hung out with offline friends in a month.
Social media is instantly gratifying. Flip open your laptop or glance at your phone, and you get a quick fix that affirms your opinions and latest selfies. But it’s not truly satisfying because it isn’t the real thing. Trust me: You need the real thing.
5. You mindlessly navigate to social media during downtime.
Success is a combination of dozens of small habits. Each of your programmed responses either pushes you forward or pulls you back. Reaching for your smartphone like a zombie doesn’t scream “success.” During your weeklong social cleanse, retrain your brain to fall back on useful things. Engage in mini-sessions of directed mindfulness, read a book or reflect on all the gifts that make you grateful in life. See how many success-boosting habits you can form in the gaping void created by social media’s absence.
Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life
6. You’re stressed by big deadlines.
Big projects require massive focus, and that can’t exist alongside little distractions. Eliminate the biggest of the media and step away from social media. Make these self-imposed breaks a deadline ritual. They can help get your head in the game and prime your brain for peak performance.
7. You’ve started to think in Facebook posts.
You know it’s bad when a pithy quote pops in your head in the form of what’s sure to be a well-received Facebook post. I’ve been there, too. It’s why I’m writing this article.
8. You’re having problems with impulse control.
Whether your guilty pleasure is snarfing down an entire bag of popcorn or binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” impulse issues arise when you forget how to say no. Continually checking in on trivial matters that rule Facebook and Twitter is a recipe for atrophy. Exercise your executive function and take back control by refusing to be tempted to check your notifications and timelines. Abstain for a week, a month or however long it takes for you to get your head together.
Related: Study: Constantly Texting and Checking Social Media Makes You ‘Morally Shallow’
9. You’re indecisive.
We use social media as a crutch for uncertainty. Instead of identifying the best possible solution and making a plan to pursue it, we turn to social media as an escape. No bueno. A social cleanse forces you to make tough decisions from your own place of self-knowledge, without crowdsourcing a response to each little thing life throws your way.
10. You haven’t read a good book in a while.
Life is better with books. But it’s hard to read something useful when every spare second is devoted to social media. Your online fast is the perfect opportunity to make reading a habit. Read a book — the kind with pages — an hour before bed. The routine itself and the calming activity will help you drift into a more restful sleep.
Related: Reading Books Makes You Smarter, Richer and Surprisingly Healthier
11. You’re falling behind on fitness goals.
You have only so much room in your life to choose which habits you’ll cling to. Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning, strap on your Fitbit, lace up and beat feet. When you feel the urge to tweet, bust out some jumping jacks or squats. Do useful things for your body.
12. You believe you need social media to be OK.
You don’t. I promise. You experienced happiness before you lost yourself in social media, and you’ll be happier without it interrupting your life every five minutes.
13. You’ve stopped doing your favorite things.
Nearly 100 percent of entrepreneurs are human beings who need fun to recharge and strike a balance. Social media feels good, but it steals time away from doing the things you love. Even worse, its insidious nature means it tries to intrude when you do let yourself live in the moment. You don’t really need to send an update on whatever you’re doing right this second. People can wait three hours (or a lifetime) without learning what you were up to for an afternoon. Rediscover what it feels like to be a human.
Related: How Wanting ‘Likes’ on Social Media Is Killing Our Capacity for Actual Joy
14. You worry you haven’t grown as a person.
Personal growth is a product of undistracted reflection. It’s difficult to assess your thoughts and habits against where you’d hoped to be by now. But if your mind is constantly shifting back to social mode, it’s downright impossible. Shed your social shackles and get to know you.
15. You don’t get time away from your computer.
There’s only so much screen time a person can take before she loses her soul. (I seem to have misplaced the study link, but you get the picture.) If your job keeps you at a desk for eight hours a day, you need offline stress relief. Your soul can’t do much to further your goals and career if your eyes and posture are shot from all those hours parked in front of a screen.
Related: The Shocking Lessons I Learned After I Quit My Social Media Addiction in 3 Days in the Desert
4. You’re so distracted you forgot to add No. 4 in its cozy and rightful place between No. 3 and No. 5.
This might be more of a personal problem, but maybe you can relate. I’ve lambasted social media, but it’s only as evil as you make it. Get some perspective by going cold turkey for a week or a month — whatever you need to regain control. Then, integrate social media back into your life in appropriate doses. When you first rejoin the social conversation, 15 minutes a day is plenty. Maintain your new direction through self-discipline. During the week, daylong fasts can prevent social media from regaining its hold on your life.
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