If you’d rather just listen to me talk about how to take a social media break, you can check out this Instagram post hosted by @youareherewriters.
If you’re new to my blog, I just need to start by recognizing how ironic it is that someone like me is telling you how to take a break. I’m Whitney “Doing the Most” McGruder. It would be dishonest if I left out the fact that I spent hours crying and angrily monologuing at Travis before I got it together and took a social media break.
I did not go into this goal quietly or happily.
Yet, it is very on-brand of me to experience something and then write about it to help someone else. Secretly, I need this post more than anyone but so many of you said “Oh, I need a break, too” and so this post is for you.
If you’re reading content like this, I can tell you’re looking for a “good enough” excuse to take a break. I want to give you the permission you need to just take care of yourself, especially if you are juggling quite a few obligations.
Let’s dive in because I have some THOUGHTS. This is the who, what, when, why, and how of taking a social media break.
5 Signs It’s Time to Log Off
- You’re convinced you can’t or shouldn’t take a break. This covers a lot of scenarios, including small business owners who worry they’ll lose customers, to online activists who feel like logging off somehow signifies that you don’t care about current events. Either way, you can’t fight a battle with assumptions. Use a break to reevaluate your efforts and values.
- Your heart rate goes up when you open your socials. For me, I felt overwhelmed whenever I visited Facebook or Twitter. Social media should be fun and not wearying. It used to be cool to be available everywhere but now, it’s not really necessary or healthy to be on every platform all the time when you really only enjoy one of them.
- You’re feeling strong resentment or hopelessness. I’ve tried to get work done and be creative while feeling hopeless and I can report back that it does not work. In fact, my anxiety attacks usually look like me sitting on the couch and feeling locked and stuck. Look at your thoughts and log off immediately if you’ve got some unresolved emotions.
- You’re living for your feed. If you choose your outfits and activities around “what can I share today?” then it’s time to give yourself a day where you do truly unremarkable activities. Also, it’s a sight if you feel like people don’t like the posts you like to share. Again, resentment will creep in.
- You want a break. If all else fails, you deserve a break if you want one. You don’t have to have a strong symptom or reason, and you don’t owe anyone an explanation of why.
How Do You Immediately Get Off?
Start by being honest and accountable for your goal. For me, I committed to a month and I meant it. And I’m proud to say that I pulled it off! I didn’t cheat once. I went from 100 to 0 overnight.
To truly establish a social media break, I logged out of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I set up a browser blocker on my computer (LeechBlocker) so even if I typed in the URL, it’d send me to a blank page. I deleted the apps on my phone for good measure.
Most updated versions of smartphones will let you set a curfew on your phone so the screen darkens or it won’t let you open the app after you’ve been on for a set amount of time or after a set time of day. This is great for curtailing your daily phone usage.
Even then, I still left my phone in another room because I’d still pick it up to check other apps. Since I work from home now, I have to keep my phone out of sight so I can focus on my job.
I had to use all these solutions to commit to my goal. You know yourself, so do what you gotta do to fully commit.
What Can You Do During Your Break?
If being on social media is an addiction for you, then it’s wise to replace that activity with another one. Just like smokers use healthy snacks to replace cigarettes, there are other ways to spend your time besides forcing yourself to stay offline. I have four phone games including Pokemon Go, so I still used my phone a lot but it was time spent catching Pokemon or solving puzzles.
You’re taking a break! What sounds good to you? You could start a gratitude journal (I list 3 things I’m grateful for every day), read some books, take naps, practice a new hobby, refine your current hobbies, or talk to people more intimately like over Zoom or text. Just because you’re offline doesn’t mean you have to swear off human interaction.
How to Take a Break from the News
I know it feels like being present and online signifies that you’re woke and aware and empathetic but the world needs you at your best.
I missed a lot of local and national news during July. I know my town went viral for police brutality protests. Being online or offline did not sway or alter those events but they would’ve negatively affected my mental health.
Let yourself have this break, knowing that it’s not forever. I don’t know much about sports, but I do know that every team has backup players; everyone takes turns playing so no one is playing the whole game.
Social justice and improving your community is a very long game. Take a seat on the bench for a bit so you can eventually get back on the field at your best.
How to Take a Break from Business Accounts
If you’re taking a break and you’re worried about losing customers, you can do a couple things. You can put up a post (like I did) that explains what’s happening. Tell them that you need a break and when you’ll be back. This is ideal if you’re going to be away for a week or longer. Update your profile bios if it helps. (Many writers say they’re “on hiatus” if they’re logging off to do some work.)
Then, close your Etsy shop, your blog, whatever. No posting anything until your break is over. I use Buffer to schedule all my stuff. I just moved my existing posts to when I’d be back. Even if those posts auto-populate, people still might leave comments. It’s not wise to send mixed messages about your availability.
If you still want to take work or commissions while you’re away, you can update your bio with instructions on how people can contact you.
Trust me, you won’t suddenly lose followers or run your business into the ground. I think you’d have to try harder to make that happen. Your community will be waiting until you’re back.
One Break Won’t Be Enough
If you’re going to take a break and then go right back to your old ways, the break might not help as much as you’d like.
Think of these breaks as a way to reexamine your priorities and goals. What are you doing on social media and why?
Part of that involves determining how often you should take breaks. Do you need a permanent break from certain platforms? What about taking the weekends off? If you menstruate, would you benefit from logging off when your hormones are taking you for a joyride?
Now, I have days blocked off each month where I won’t post anything. I already feel much better knowing that I’ve set up regular boundaries.
Trust Me, Take a Break
Whenever people told me to take a break, I always felt like they were saying that I was unbearable for being “too much” or for being “too concerned.” I sort of assumed they were hoping I’d just stop talking about politics and give them a break from me. I felt resentful.
I wrote this whole post to reframe the purpose of taking a break. When I tell you to take a break, it’s out of love and concern. I don’t want a break from you and what you create. I do think you deserve time to catch your breath during a really stressful time.
I mean there’s a pandemic and a revolution going on outside. A lot of y’all are trying to follow the rules even though you are related to pandemic-deniers. Then there’s racism and homophobia and other Big Topics…
Real talk, if you thought you were going to “do it all” in the hellish year that is 2020 with a broken, overworked mental capacity, then you must be joking or using a Time-Turner. We’re all failing right now because no one expected to live through a global pandemic. Despite what you see online, we are all taking things one day at a time.
Let yourself take a social media break. If you’re taking breaks, double them. We’ll all be here waiting for you when you get back. If you’re consistent and networking, people will notice you’re gone in a good way.
Phew. I think that’s everything I needed to say for now. Did I leave anything out? Did anything resonate with you? If you need help planning your next getaway, ask me for help! I’d love to help however I can.
4 comments on “5 Signs You Need a Social Media Break (& How to Actually Do It)”
I love your last note: “If you’re consistent and networking, people will notice you’re gone in a good way.” And they’ll be happy you took time for yourself, and enjoy your content again once you return. It’s a fantastic way to framework the other side of a break, rather than focus on the fears of what you might lose.
I’m glad you noticed that! When I came back from my break, multiple people said “Oh, this explains what was missing from my feed.” Honestly, that made me want to take more breaks in the future! haha
This was a great post, Whitney. You completely summed up what I need a break for, why I’ve been unable to commit to one, AND I love that you gave concrete steps for how to go on a break and keep yourself accountable to it. Thanks for writing this!
I’m so glad it helped! I tried to be as detailed as possible because I was tired of seeing the same ol’ general advice. I also wanted to make it seem possible and stupid-easy to take a break, haha. I hope you find a way to take a break soon so you can keep creating awesome stuff and inspiring people like me!