Unplug and Recharge: 5 Signs You Need a Digital Detox

Digital Detox

Social media is a powerful tool for connecting with friends, family, and the world, but it can also become an unhealthy obsession that distracts from the important things in life like friends, work, and family. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to be mindful of your time spent on social media and remember that social media should be a tool to enhance your life.

According to Psychology Today, people who spend less time on social media tend to have better mental health. Obsessing over every digitally enhanced Instagram post can also damage your self-esteem and make you feel worse about yourself. If any of these signs sound familiar, it might be time for a digital detox.

What is a digital detox?

A digital detox temporarily removes you from all technology, gadgets, and other electronic devices. The purpose of a digital detox is to give individuals some time away from the constant stimulation of their phones and computers. The purpose of a digital detox is to provide a much-needed respite from the intense stimulation that can come with the use of technology in our lives.

The popularity of digital detoxes has grown over the years as more people experience negative effects from using technology too much. These include stress, anxiety, depression, and addiction — all associated with excessive use of social media.

Now, let’s look at some signs your body is crying out for a digital detox.

You can’t go an hour without checking your phone

If you can’t go an hour without checking your phone or compulsively check your phone, even when it’s not ringing or vibrating, it’s a sign you’re obsessing too much about social media and could benefit from a digital detox. Some people feel stressed when their phone isn’t within arm’s reach and can’t focus on other things until their phone is back in their hands.  This degree of obsession is mentally unhealthy.

A digital detox can help reset your priorities and give you more time to focus on what matters most in your life — whether spending time with friends and family or doing something productive like reading a book or exercising regularly.

You feel worse about yourself when you’re on social media

Social media can harm self-esteem. You’re consciously or unconsciously comparing yourself to others when you scroll through your feeds. Are your friends living better lives than you? Do they have better relationships or cushier jobs? Are they thinner or in better shape than you? It’s no wonder so many people have a hard time feeling good about themselves when they’re on social media.

Such comparisons can lead to unhealthy habits like adopting risky diets or extreme exercise programs to lose weight. One way to reduce the influence of social media on self-esteem is to schedule digital detoxes to give yourself a break.

Your social life is suffering because you spend time on social media

If you feel like social media is taking away from your real life, it’s time for a detox. Engaging on social media isn’t a substitute for physical interactions. If you stay up late scrolling through Instagram or Facebook and wake up feeling tired and groggy, your body is crying out for a social media detox.

If there are days when you can’t put down your phone or leave the house because of FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s harming your life. If all your conversations with friends and family now occur online instead of in person, that might be a sign that you must step away from your devices for a while.

Social media can also make people feel lonely, even if they have many friends on social media sites like Instagram or TikTok. Why? It’s the comparison thing again. You compare yourself to others who seem more popular, successful, or happy than you. When people take photos and use hashtags like #blessed, you might feel their lives are better than yours in some way — and that’s not healthy.

You’re posting constantly and still feeling unhappy

If you’re constantly posting and still feel unhappy, it’s time for a break. You might tell yourself your life would be better if you had more followers, more likes, or more comments on your posts, but even that doesn’t bring lasting happiness. Despite constantly posting and checking out the feeds of others, you still feel something is missing from your life. This is a sure sign you need a digital detox and a chance to reevaluate how often you post to social media.

You don’t realize how much time you spend online

Another sign you need a social media detox is if you lose track of how much time you spend online. The more time you spend online, the more your brain seeks the short-term rewards and dopamine surge that comes with scrolling through Instagram and seeing colorful photos and videos of beautiful people and exotic destinations.

It’s easy to get lost in your favorite app or as you scroll through your newsfeed, as your friends post photos from their vacations or latest accomplishments. Before you know it, an hour has passed, and you’ve accomplished nothing. Sound familiar?

To combat this phenomenon, set up alerts or timers on your phone so that every half hour (or whatever amount works for you), there is an audible reminder that it’s time for you to take a break from whatever app or website is distracting you.


If you’re feeling like social media has taken over your life, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with this issue. If you want to change, take a break from social media as part of your detox journey. Give yourself a chance to focus on other important things like friends or family members. You don’t have to give up social media entirely but learn to enjoy it in moderation and take scheduled breaks from it.


  • “Social Media and Mental Health: Time for a Digital Detox?.” 17 Feb. 2020, psychologytoday.com/us/blog/talking-about-men/202002/social-media-and-mental-health-time-digital-detox.
  • “The Social Media Detox Experiment – PhysioQ.” physioq.org/lesson/social-media-detox.

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