If Your New Year's Resolution Is To Spend Less Time On Social Media, Read This

For many, making a New Year's resolution is an annual challenge to better themselves in a meaningful way. Whether it's becoming more financially sound, improving your mental health, or reading more often, a New Year's resolution can be a great motivator. 

If your resolution is to spend less time on social media, you're not alone. Many people are discovering the negative impacts of these apps and are actively choosing to disengage. Several of the most popular apps are actually terrible for your mental health, with Instagram being the worst social media platform of the bunch.

Feelings of isolation, loneliness, and inadequacy run rampant when you're scrolling through social media on a constant cycle (via Forbes). You're more likely to negatively compare yourself and your life to what you see online. 

These apps are essentially training us to be less social over time. Instead of creating significant connections with other people through in-person interactions, we're stuck in a rut of reflexively picking up our phones to respond with a brief emoji or comment before moving on to the next thing.

If you feel disillusioned with the whole social media experience, here are a few of the most effective ways to implement your New Year's resolution to spend less time on these apps and more time engaging with real life.

Identify how much time you're spending on social media, and set realistic goals

One of the main reasons it's so hard to quit social media is that the practice of scrolling through these apps has become deeply ingrained in our everyday lives. 

Picking up your phone whenever you receive a notification — or you're bored — creates a repetitive habit that's difficult to break. You may only be spending 10 or 15 minutes on your phone at a time, but, throughout the day, this number adds up to an alarming total. 

Start your New Year's resolution by assessing how much time you're spending on social media each day. Most phones are equipped with a Screen Time feature that tells you how many hours you spend on your phone per day and which apps consume most of that time. 

Next, set a realistic goal for how much you'd like to decrease that number. If you typically spend around six hours per day on social media, it isn't helpful to set a goal of two hours per day to start. It's easier to adjust if you start by going on social media for five hours per day for one week. Then, decrease your screen time by an hour each week after that. 

Research has shown that you should only be on social media for a total of 30 minutes per day, which sounds like a dream but isn't necessarily doable for everyone (via BBC).

Silence your social media notifications

The idea of silencing your social media notifications may seem unfathomable, especially since we live in a world where constant accessibility is a societal norm. If you really want to spend less time on social media this year, though, silencing your notifications is a good place to start. 

According to Psychology Today, you're less likely to pick up your phone and engage with social media if your notifications are turned off. This is because many of us instantly pick up our phone the second someone likes one of our pictures or retweets something we've posted on Twitter.

Whenever you receive any type of notification, you get an immediate dopamine hit (per Vogue). Dopamine is considered the "feel-good hormone" because it's the neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel happy. You get a boost of dopamine whenever someone has liked something you've done on social media. 

While it's always good to have positive reinforcement in your life, it isn't great to be seeking this out through the realm of social media. You're better off finding personal validation in other ways, like taking part in a kickboxing class or publishing a poem in the local newspaper.

Once you stop receiving notifications from your social media accounts, you'll feel less compelled to pick up your phone multiple times throughout the day to see what's going on.

Incorporate phone-free times during the week

Another way to spend less time on social media is to spend less time on your phone in general. 

Implementing phone-free times during the week can help achieve this goal because it becomes another part of your daily schedule, like brushing your teeth or making lunch (via The Everygirl). Place your phone in a different room while you watch a movie or when you're having dinner. 

If this habit seems to be working for you, take it one step further and incorporate phone-free time in the morning. Set a realistic goal for yourself by determining how long you can wait before checking your phone after you wake up. Some people choose to stay off their phones until 10 a.m., whereas others need to at least check work emails prior to 9 a.m.

Regardless of what timeframe works for you, choosing specific times throughout the day when you step away from your phone can make a world of difference. You'll slowly start to realize that, the less time you spend on social media, the less you'll want to be on social media — and the less important it is.

It's likely that you're only online so much because you've made a habit of checking your phone repeatedly throughout the day without even thinking about it. Once you nix this routine and replace it with something healthier, you'll see — and feel — the positive impact it has on your mental health.