How to Do a Social Media Detox in 2024 (Without Deleting Your Accounts)

As a digital marketer, social media is likely both your job and your go-to distraction. You spend all day creating content, engaging with followers, and analyzing metrics, only to find yourself mindlessly scrolling your personal feeds well into the night.

But when the lines between work and life blur, and the pressure to be "always on" leads to burnout, it may be time for a social media detox. In 2024, taking an intentional break from social platforms is no longer a radical act – it‘s a necessity for our mental health and productivity.

The Toll of Too Much Scrolling

The average person spends 2 hours and 45 minutes on social media each day in 2023, up from 2 hours and 24 minutes in 2020.[^1] For digital marketers, that number is likely even higher.

While social media has many benefits, excessive use has been linked to a range of negative impacts:

  • Mental health issues: A 2021 study found that high levels of social media use are associated with an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.[^2]

  • Decreased attention span: The constant stream of new content on social media is shortening our attention spans. The average attention span has shrunk from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2023.[^3]

  • Memory impairment: Research has shown that taking photos and videos for social media can actually make us remember less about those experiences.[^4] We‘re so focused on capturing the moment that we don‘t fully live it.

  • Productivity loss: A 2023 survey found that the average worker spends 32% of their workday on social media for non-work-related reasons, leading to an estimated $650 billion per year in lost productivity.[^5]

  • Comparison and FOMO: 62% of people report feeling inadequate and 60% report feeling jealous when comparing themselves to others on social media.[^6] The "highlight reel" effect can tank our self-esteem.

Signs It‘s Time for a Detox

So how do you know if your social media habit has become unhealthy? Here are some red flags:

  1. Your usage is increasing. Check your screen time report. Are you spending more time on social apps than you were six months ago? A year ago?

  2. It‘s the first and last thing you do each day. If reaching for your phone is your default morning and bedtime ritual, your social media habit may be bordering on addiction.

  3. Your mood takes a hit. Notice how you feel after a scrolling session. If you consistently feel down, anxious, angry, or lonely after being on social media, that‘s a sign it‘s not serving you.

  4. You‘re losing sleep. 71% of Americans report taking their phones to bed.[^7] If you‘re sacrificing precious sleep to doomscroll into the wee hours, it‘s time for a change.

  5. You feel pressure to post. Do you feel like you need to document and share every moment or accomplishment? Constant self-curation is exhausting.

  6. You‘re phubbing loved ones. "Phubbing" is snubbing someone you‘re talking to in person in favor of your phone. If social media is interfering with your IRL relationships, a detox can help you be more present.

Planning Your Social Media Detox

If any of those signs sound familiar, a social media detox may be just what the doctor ordered. But going cold turkey can be daunting, especially if social media is a big part of your job. Here‘s how to set yourself up for success:

  1. Set your intention. Get clear on why you‘re doing this detox. Is it to improve your mental health? Be more productive at work? Sleep better? Having a compelling why will help you stick with it.

  2. Choose your timeline. Decide how long you want to detox for. It could be a day, a week, a month, or even longer. Be realistic about what you can commit to.

  3. Decide on your rules. A detox doesn‘t have to mean quitting social media entirely. You could cut out just one particularly problematic app, limit your usage to certain times of day, or commit to only logging on for work purposes.

  4. Announce your break. Let your friends, family, and followers know you‘ll be less active on social media for a bit. This sets expectations and adds a layer of accountability.

  5. Remove temptations. Delete social media apps from your phone, use a website blocker on your computer, and turn off all notifications. Make it as hard as possible to "accidentally" check your feeds.

  6. Find alternative activities. Nature abhors a vacuum, so plan what you‘ll do with the time you normally spend on social media. Some ideas: read a book, take up a new hobby, call a friend, workout, meditate, or tackle a home project.

Detox Strategies for Digital Marketers

As a digital marketer, completely quitting social media may not be realistic – or even advisable. But there are ways to create healthy boundaries between your professional and personal usage:

  • Use a separate work phone. If possible, have a dedicated phone for work that you only use during business hours. This creates a physical separation between your job and your downtime.

  • Schedule your posts. Use a scheduling tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to pre-plan your content calendar. This lets you batch your work and avoid the constant back-and-forth of posting in real-time.

  • Set communication expectations. Let your team and clients know your working hours and when you‘ll be unavailable. Use an auto-responder for your email and social media messages outside of those times.

  • Take intentional breaks. Schedule short social media breaks throughout your workday to avoid burnout. Use a timer and be mindful about how you spend that time. Try a guided meditation or a quick walk around the block.

  • Do a social media audit. Periodically review your social media diet. Unfollow accounts that don‘t inspire or educate you, hide triggering keywords, and prune your friend/follower lists. Curate your feeds to support your wellbeing.

"We need to have an intentional relationship with social media, instead of this on-demand, all-you-can-eat buffet that we carry around in our pockets." – Cal Newport, author of Digital Minimalism[^8]

Navigating FOMO and Re-Entry

One of the biggest challenges of a social media detox is FOMO – the fear of missing out. It‘s natural to worry that you‘re being left out of the loop or forgotten while you‘re not posting. Some tips for dealing with FOMO:

  • Remember that social media isn‘t reality. People‘s curated posts are their highlight reels, not their behind-the-scenes. You‘re not seeing the full picture.

  • Connect in other ways. Reach out to friends and loved ones via text, phone calls, or in-person hangs. Nurture your relationships outside of social media.

  • Practice gratitude. Focus on what you‘re gaining from your detox – more time, deeper connections, better sleep – rather than what you‘re giving up.

When you‘re ready to return to social media after your detox, take it slow. Think of it like reintroducing foods after an elimination diet – observe how each platform and type of content makes you feel, and adjust accordingly. Some questions to reflect on:

  • What did I miss about social media? What didn‘t I miss?
  • How did my mood, productivity, and relationships change during my detox?
  • What boundaries do I want to maintain going forward?
  • Which platforms or types of content feel good to me, and which feel toxic?
  • How can I use social media more intentionally, both professionally and personally?

The Big Picture

Ultimately, a social media detox is about reclaiming control over your time and attention. It‘s a chance to step back, reassess your habits, and make more intentional choices about how you engage with these platforms.

As digital marketers, we have a front-row seat to the social media machine. We‘re both the creators and the consumers, the persuaders and the persuaded. Taking periodic breaks reminds us of our agency in this ecosystem.

By modeling healthy social media boundaries, we can be part of the solution. We can show our audiences that it‘s okay to step away, to prioritize mental health, to live in the moment. We can use our influence to promote digital wellness, not just digital engagement.

So go ahead and give yourself permission to pause. Your followers will still be there when you get back – and you just might return with a newfound sense of clarity and purpose.

[^1]: DataReportal. "Digital 2023 Global Overview Report." 2023.
[^2]: Pantic, Igor. "Online Social Networking and Mental Health." Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, vol. 17, no. 10, 2014, pp. 652-657.
[^3]: Microsoft Canada. "Attention Spans." 2015.
[^4]: Tamir, Diana I., et al. "Media Usage Diminishes Memory for Experiences." Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, vol. 76, 2018, pp. 161-168.
[^5]: TeamStage. "39 Worrying Workplace Social Media Statistics." 2023.
[^6]: Vogel, Erin A., et al. "Social Comparison, Social Media, and Self-Esteem." Psychology of Popular Media Culture, vol. 3, no. 4, 2014, pp. 206-222.
[^7]: Common Sense Media. "SleeplessInAmericaTeens&Screens2018Report." 2018.
[^8]: Newport, Cal. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Portfolio, 2019.