If you’ve been feeling down, lonely, and isolated lately and can’t figure out why, it could have something to do with your social media habits. According to a recent study, social media use can increase depression and loneliness.

For years we have suspected that social media use might have an ability to negatively impact our mental well-being. After all, it’s hard not to feel inadequate or jealous when looking at photos of people whose lives seem so much better than ours.

But now research is actually making a definitive link between spending time on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and a sense of loneliness and isolation.

Maybe it’s time for a social media detox

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If there isn’t anything about this picture that seems off to you, then it’s high time you went on a social media detox.

I often encourage my clients to take a social media detox every now and then and in some cases, to completely get off when there is no definitive evidence that it is providing any value to their lives (which is often). They almost always report back that the detox offered some amazing and unexpected health benefits such as:

Improved self-esteem

When you take a break from comparing yourself to other people, you start to look at how great things are in your own life.

New interests and hobbies

When you spend less time trying to get that social approval in the form of “likes” “retweets” and “followers” you suddenly find that you have a lot of time on your hands for other, more fulfilling and life-enhancing activities.

Improves your mood

Trading online friendships for real, face-to-face friendships helps us feel more grounded and connected to people. This can drastically improve our mood and sense of well-being.

Better sleep

Many people are on their phones in bed, checking their social media accounts. The blue light from these devices disrupts our sleep pattern. Additionally, the negative stimulation we receive immediately prior to bed from viewing social media affects the quality of our sleep. When we put these devices away, we inevitably sleep better.

ability to enjoy the moment more

All of my clients know that I’m a big proponent of improving your present moment awareness – i.e., mindfulness. By being present in our lives, we feel an increased sense of peace and joy and connectedness. This. Is. Priceless.

So how do you perform a social media detox?

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Performing a social media detox may be harder for some than for others. But there are ways to make it easier if you are truly addicted.

Follow these four steps:

  1. Temporarily deactivate your accounts. Don’t worry you can reactivate them again in the future should you choose. They make it extremely easy. Shocker.
  2. Remove all social media apps and notification pathways from your devices.
  3. Use a web filtering tool to block social media sites. (Because why tempt yourself?)
  4. Be prepared for some withdrawal symptoms and have other activities ready to replace the void.

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“Like” the idea of social media detox? Well, that’s good because studies have shown that too much social media can be damaging to your health, so a break may be in order.

If you follow the steps above and take a break from social media, chances are you will find that you feel a whole lot better and may not even want to go back – like many of the clients I have worked with.

Life is short. Don’t spend any more of it on social media than necessary. If you feel like you’re struggling with a social media addiction, or any other addiction, then find an awesome therapist or life coach you like and trust to help you sort things out and get back on track.

James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.