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A social media detox is a conscious elimination or restriction of social media use for a set period of time (usually 30-90 days) so you can, in our case, emotionally distance yourself from your ex and anything that may remind you of them and re-open your breakup wounds.
Picture this for example: you’re almost over your ex, but just as you’re brushing against the contours of acceptance, you see a Facebook post on your newsfeed. It’s a photo of your ex, all glammed up and beaming, holding hands with an attractive stranger.
Seeing the photo feels like someone bitchslapped your soul away. You want to throw up. You want to cry. You want to punch a wall. You want a drink… or ten. And just like that, you’re back at square one recovery-wise.
It’s these sorts of experiences that a social media detox helps you avoid. But interestingly, there are even more benefits under the hood that most people overlook.
The Benefits Of A Social Media Detox
For starters, it makes it easier to avoid stalking your ex. Don’t roll your eyes! I know you do it too. Don’t blame yourself for it. Everyone has these moments of weakness — some more than others. Even I still check my ex’s profiles from time to time. Curiosity is a bitch, I guess.
Another perk of the detox is that it helps you stop comparing yourself to others. Most notably, the benevolent idiots posting cheesy selfies with their significant other.
Put differently, avoiding social media helps you overcome your FOMO (fear of missing out). This is a form of social anxiety stemming from the belief that you’re missing out on some cool experience — or multiple experiences — everyone else is having.
Another cool perk of a social media detox is that it improves your mental health. For instance, it contributes to lower anxiety, stress, and loneliness, and increases focus, creativity, and one’s baseline happiness. Some studies even showed that reducing social media exposure leads to better posture and sleep, as well as stronger social connections. (1) (2) (3) (4)
How To Do A Social Media Detox
Now that I got you all riled up about this detox thing, here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Cleanse Your Devices Of Your Ex
Unfollow your ex on all social media platforms and delete your chats and email exchanges.
I know this isn’t really related to social media, but I also suggest purging your phone: delete your ex’s phone number, your texting exchanges, and all of their photos and videos.
If you want to get over them completely, and you’re not working with them, living together, or share kids/pets, I suggest you block them everywhere where that option is enabled.
However, if you want to ultimately get them back, I would abstain from blocking them. And I would also keep the public photos of you two still up. Because deleting them may sometimes come across as rude and lower your chances of mending things.
Step 2: Cleanse Your Devices Of Anything That May Re-Open Your Breakup Wounds
Unfollow anyone who may trigger an ex-related memory and upset you. For example:
- People who keep posting “couple’s goals” or other romantic quotes.
- People who keep posting cringe photos with their significant others.
- People who keep posting updates about their fun dating life.
Download newsfeed killers — browser plugins that prevent social media apps from showing their newsfeed. A couple of decent ones: Kill Facebook Newsfeed, Distraction Free for YouTube, and Insta Feed Eradicator.
You can also set up programs that permanently block individual websites and computer apps for a certain period you decide on. A couple of options to pick from: Cold Turkey (Mac/Windows), FocusMe (Mac), HeyFocus (Mac).
Uninstall all social media apps. Getting yourself to do this is really hard, but once it’s done, you’ll realize that you never really needed those apps in the first place.
Like with blockers on your computer, you can also set up phone blockers. A couple of options to pick from: Screen Time (iOS), Digital Wellbeing, (other operating systems), Help Me Focus (other operating systems).
Step 3. Set A Time Goal And Prevent Yourself From Breaking It
Decide on a goal for how long you’ll keep participating in the social media detox. I suggest anywhere from 30 to 90 days. You can even make the detox a permanent lifestyle, but again, that’s totally up to you.
When you’ve set your goal, I also recommend finding an accountability buddie. That is, someone that can keep you accountable for staying off social media. If you’re hardcore like me, you can also agree on painful consequences to breaking the social media detox with your accountability buddy.
For example, whenever you stalk your ex, you must give them a 100$. Or whenever you log onto a certain no-no app, you must donate 100$ to a charity you would otherwise never support and you accountability buddy has to double check your receipts too see if you’ve actually done it.
Altering The Social Media Detox
None of the steps of the social media detox are set in stone. Be flexible and alter them to your liking and lifestyle.
For example, if your job relies on social media and you can’t afford not to engage with it, consider mild changes like unfollowing your ex and blocking their number.
Or if you use Facebook to an unhealthy degree but genuinely enjoy Instagram and use it to a healthy degree, delete Facebook while limiting Instagram for one hour a day.
But then again, don’t be too easy on yourself. Breakup recovery often entails discomfort and some degree of pain. Flexibility is no excuse to half-ass your way through a social media detox. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Go hard or go home. Good luck.
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