Social media, apps, messages, emails, they’re all huge parts of our lives. Whether you’ve been allowed a phone for years or you’ve only just got one recently, chances are you spend a lot of time talking to your friends on apps, messaging them, uploading stories and videos and photos – and probably doing a million more things, too. Being able to do that is absolutely amazing. Can you imagine what it was like when your parents were your age and they had to actually ring up their mates on their house phone to arrange to meet? God bless the smartphone!
But, as amazing it is to send photos, chat with people you love instantly and check out what your favourite celeb is doing right now on Instagram, I think we can all agree that always being on, always uploading photos and checking things and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling can get really stressful. Feeling pressure to check your phone or upload photos can make you feel tired and irritable. It can make you feel scared or nervous. And it can make you feel panicked and genuinely stressed out.
There’s a big sliding scale here from a bit tired to actually very stressed and in need of a break. We all need a break sometimes, so take a look at these suggestions, start slow and get ready for the social media stress to melt away – it might take some time, but you need a break, goddammit!
Put your phone on the other side of the room
Oh, we know, it sounds simple. And a bit silly. And the kind of thing you’d do if a toddler kept touching the TV remote. But honestly, just giving yourself some distance from your phone, whether it’s for five minutes or five hours, can only be a good thing.
Turn off notifications
Depending on which phone you have, there are different ways to do this. But for most of them, you need to head to the settings page, go to notifications and then toggle different ones on and off. It’s worth chatting to your close friends and family and telling them if there’s an emergency, they should call you. That way, you can turn off all notifications except calls. And relax.
Go for a walk
We all spend so much time looking at screens, whether it’s our phone, our iPad or a computer, that we don’t get outside and, well, look up enough. Go for a walk and look around at what’s going on. Pay attention to everything that’s important, like traffic and people around you, but also look at trees, flowers, houses, everything. You need to give your brain a bit of a break. If you can go for a walk without your phone, that’s great. But if you want it in your pocket, like an iPhone-shaped comfort blanket, that’s fine too.
Have a no-phone hour
We’d love to suggest a no-phone weekend or day, but we’re also realists and know we wouldn’t even be able to take our own advice. So instead of setting yourself up to fail, just pick one hour a day when you don’t look at your phone. Sleep experts would love your no-phone hour to be before you go to bed, because they believe that’ll help you sleep better. But this is all about doing what’s achievable, so pick any hour for now that’s easiest for you.
Delete apps (temporarily)
This may sound a bit OTT. But, if you have a big problem with scrolling endlessly on Instagram or you’re getting really stressed out with a group WhatsApp chat, then you can delete apps and reinstall them without losing all of your data. Just make sure you backup your phone and go ahead and delete. It’s an extreme option, but some people swear by this, especially if they’ve got revision to do and keep getting distracted.
Track your screen time
In Apple’s latest iOS update for your iPhone, it’s added an option to track how much time you spend on specific apps. There are other ways to do this too, and it can be a really insightful way of finding out where you spend all your time. What it can help with is all the points above. You can figure out which apps you maybe should delete temporarily and figure out the extent of your social media addiction. But be warned, it could be terrifying to see you spend 4+ hours on Instagram!
Mute, unfollow and even block
Lots of people talk about how much they hate Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. But what they really mean is they don’t like the people they follow. Whether they’re annoying and say bad things or just have perfect lives that make you feel rubbish. What you can do at any time is mute, unfollow and block people who are stressing you out. Muting is great, because the person doesn’t know they’re muted – zero drama! But if you don’t like someone’s views or just don’t have anything in common with someone anymore, you can unfollow, too. If someone is sending you messages you don’t want and saying really mean things, go ahead and block them.
Download some calming apps
If you must be on your phone all the time and can’t bear to part with it for more than a few minutes, use it to do something more worthwhile. You can download an app that teaches you something, we love, love, love Duolingo for super fun language learning that you can show off about at school. Headspace is great for calming and breathing exercises. And I Love Hue is a super addictive game all about calming colours. We’re sure there’s hundreds and thousands more, but they’re some of our favourites.
Whether you decide to take a break from your phone, track your screen time or mute all those people who do your head in, it’s good to think about how you use your phone. It doesn’t have to be stressful, but to destress you’ve got to take control.
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