person with long brown hair and pink blouse walks to the edge of a larger-than-life unplugged phone, taking a break from social media
Illustration by Maya Chastain

“What would your mental health look like without social media? It’s pretty hard to imagine.”

It is difficult to remember what we did before the feed because we are mixed up.

There are plenty of benefits to online connection, but how do we find balance with the constant input from friends, family, celebrities, and brands?

To help you do just that, Healthline and Psych Central invite you to join our 10-Day Digital Disconnect Challenge on Instagram.

Readers were asked how they feel about social media. 25 percent of those we asked felt that it has a negative effect on their mental well-being, and 53 percent felt that cutting down on usage could help.

66 percent of those with a mental health condition that started or worsened during the Pandemic were found to have that.

A survey found that 29 percent of people need at least a few days of break to benefit from a social media hiatus, while 46 percent of people in the age group of 15 to 24 years old said the same.

We want you to take a look at how your social media behavior affects your mental well-being.

During a 10-day period, Healthline and Psych Central will help you create a happy, healthy relationship with social media through interactive journal prompts, digital boundary-setting tips and tricks, and some hard-to-hear social media truths.

We will have a little fun along the way.

We encourage you to do the same as we will be silent on our feed as we fully disengage from social media and unlearn its harmful effects on mental health.

Check out the 10-Day Digital Disconnect Challenge by following Healthline and Psych Central on Instagram.

Want to know how to make your feed more mental health friendly, and how to step away from social media? Read on.

What research has been done about the effects of social media on your health? You might be surprised to learn that most studies are not very good.

Your brain may be telling you to slow down.

A 2015 study found that U.K. children were twice as likely to report high or very high scores for mental ill-health if they used social networking sites for 3 hours or more on a school day.

A small 2018 study found a direct link between decreasing social media usage and improvements in depression and loneliness.

In a 2021 survey by ExpressVPN, 86 percent of a sampling of 1,500 Americans reported that social media directly negatively impacts their happiness and self-image. Between 79 and 83 percent reported negative effects on anxiety, loneliness, and depression.

A 2022 cross-national online survey of the United States, U.K., Australia, and Norway found that those who used social media for entertainment or to decrease loneliness during the pandemic experienced poorer mental health.

While using social media for personal contact and maintaining relationships was associated with improved mental health, there was still a correlation between increased daily time on social media and poorer mental health overall.

On the other hand, a 2021 pilot study of 68 university students found that most students reported a positive change in mood, reduced anxiety, and improved sleep during and immediately after a break from social media.

“The data is clear. If you don’t want to experience the negative effects of social media, you may want to make some changes.”

“Your mental health is more important than your photo shoots. What can you do that isn’t scrolling?”

The world is your oyster. There are many options when you step away from the screen and into the three-dimensional world.

You can change the way you feel about social media by identifying the reason you are feeling the urge to log onto your accounts.

If you use social media to relax

If you find yourself reaching for your phone when you have a little time to spare, consider alternatives.

  • Take a stroll around the block.
  • Put on some music.
  • Candles or essential oils can be used to set the mood.
  • You should read a book.
  • Try to make something.
  • “It’s a good idea to bake something delicious.”
  • Play with a pet.
  • Try yoga or meditation.
  • A hot beverage is like a tea or hot chocolate.
  • Look at photos.

If you use social media to connect with others

If you find yourself wanting to check your feed and want to find a human connection, try these activities.

  • Bonus points for a video call if you call a friend or family member.
  • invite someone over for dinner
  • When you deliver it, you should chat with your neighbors.
  • A weekend trip with friends is possible.
  • Check out for like-minded groups to join (and actually attend an event!).
  • You can volunteer at a food bank.
  • You can take a class at the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • A community group is a church, nonprofit, or club.
  • Take a goat yoga class — you’re almost certain to come away smiling.

If you use social media for entertainment

Instead of videos, opt for real life entertainment.

  • Go see live music.
  • You can check out an arcade.
  • Try a paint your own pottery studio, like Color Me Mine.
  • You can learn an instrument.
  • Take a class.
  • Take a hike.
  • You can take a trip to the museum.
  • Try gardening.
  • Listen to a show.
  • You should read a book.
  • People can play a board game.

Knowing your motives for logging onto your social accounts can be a lot of power. You can choose to meet that need in another way once you have done that.

Taking breaks from social media is great, but it is important to be realistic about your use.

If you use social media in your life, that is fine. Even though you are using social media, there are ways to improve it.

You can.

  • Unfollowing accounts can have a negative effect on your mood.
  • Remove photos from your profile that make you feel bad.
  • There are negative messages, trolly, and spam.
  • Unsave posts that encourage you to compare yourself to others.

You can set an example for others to follow by posting authentic, authentic posts.

You can.

  • The real you should be shown instead of the filter.
  • The photos of the messy moments should be posted.
  • You can tell others that you are a real person with flaws, hang-ups, and insecurities by writing a caption.
  • “Encourage comments on others’ posts.”
  • When you take breaks, post about it so others know they can do it too.

For most of us, social media is a part of our lives. We can use it in a way that emphasizes the positive over the negative for both of us.

Social media can be a good tool for self-expression and connection if you use it a little bit and take breaks.

Crystal Hoshaw is a mother, writer, and longtime yoga practitioner. She has taught in private studios, gyms, and in one-on-one settings in Los Angeles, Thailand, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares mindful strategies for self-care through online courses at Follow her on Instagram.