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Unhustle for Mental Wellbeing

Get Rid of Social Media Addiction Once And For All

Milena Regos

In a world obsessed with busyness and chasing success at all costs, we end up burnt out, stressed out, and lonely. At Unhustle, my vision is to shift this paradigm. It’s about finding the sweet spot between doing and real living, embracing a lifestyle that balances life enjoyment with purposeful achievement. This is the future I’m creating with Unhustle—a sustainable, prosperous future for ourselves, our families, communities, teams, companies, and the planet.

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Our Social Media Addiction

Do you think you have a social media addiction?

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you drink a glass of water, meditate, or brush your teeth?

Chances are that you reach for your phone. Check social media. Research says that 87% of smartphone users check their devices within an hour of going to sleep or waking up. 71% of smartphone owners sleep with or next to their mobile phones on a typical night.

In the 18 to 29-year-old age category, 22% of smartphone-using respondents admitted to checking their device every few minutes. If that doesn’t say phone addiction, what does?

36% of millennials say they spend two or more hours per workday looking at their phones for personal activities.

Adults spend an average of 45 minutes a day on social media alone.

41% of teenagers feel overwhelmed by the number of notifications they receive on a daily basis.

Our phones invade even our most private time. We go to the bathroom with our phones. (At least three in four Americans do).


Our phones are even getting in the shower with us – 12% of us shower with our phones.  And 9% are using it during sex (that number increases to 20% for the 18-34-year-old).

We touch our phones 2,617 times a day, an average with some people going as high as 5,400 times a day.

If this doesn’t say social media addiction, I don’t know what will.

Although social media addiction is not an official diagnosis (yet), researchers identify behavior similar to gambling addiction as described in the Center of Addiction:

  • A disproportionate amount of time and money spent engaged in the behavior
  • Use in socially inappropriate or physically dangerous situations (e.g., texting while driving an automobile)
  • Adverse effects on relationships
  • Withdrawal (e.g., distress experienced when away from the device or when without adequate cellular service)

Dr. Logan Jones, a psychologist told CNET: “On a deeper level, these social media companies know exactly what they are doing [from] a neurological perspective. What they’re doing is called intermittent reinforcement — it’s what casinos do too with slot machines. And it’s the same with swiping on Tinder or checking your Instagram. The addiction is the reward pathway, it’s a dopamine hit.”

Social media companies are doing their job well – they are getting us hooked and keeping our attention. They are taking up more and more of our invaluable assets – time and attention. They are counting in your social media addiction.

I know exactly how this works since I spent years as a social media strategist. I know how the algorithms work. I know what content to create to grab your attention. I relied on your social media addiction.

I’m no longer interested in playing this game.

Do you prefer to listen to this? You can do so on on our podcast.

Solutions to Your Social Media Addiction

These are the steps I took to deal with my social media addiction.

Begin With Your Mindset

Ask yourself, “What are you getting out of social media that you can’t get IRL?” Are you bored, unhappy? What’s missing from your life that you are trying to replace with social media? Identify the reason you go to social media and think of how you can replace it IRL?

Instead of saying “I won’t spend time on social media” replace it with “I’m going to spend time doing”… something you really like or you want to do more of.

Personally, I decided that I wanted to live more mindfully and dedicated my time to building a mindfulness practice, gaining inner peace and feelings of joy from everyday activities, and being more present.

You need to replace the dopamine addiction with something else. Try meditation, mindfulness, reading physical books, going out in nature, or connecting with people in real life.

Track Your Time

If you want to know how much time you spend online, simply use an app. Screen Time for Apple or Quality Time for Android or Digital Wellbeing for Google phones can help. There are plenty of apps available if you want to find out your exact habits.

Mark your calendar at the end of Friday and look at your usage. You may be surprised how much time you spend on Instagram.

Turn Notifications Off

Turn off all notifications from social media apps. This way you won’t get distracted every time you hear or see an alert come through. Otherwise, you will wonder what happened and won’t be able to focus on anything else.

Put your phone on airplane mode when you work. Doing this will shorten your workday and improve your productivity.

Go into Settings and put no calls and notifications on your phone between the hours of 7pm and 9am.  Enjoy your time off and consider it a digital detox.

Create Better Boundaries

If you want to take back your time and attention, and beat your social media addiction, you need better boundaries.

  • Don’t grab your phone first thing in the morning. Leave your phone in another room at night to make it harder to grab it when you first wake up.
  • Create a cut off time at night and stick to it. I put my phone away at 7 pm so I can be fully present with my husband.
  • Create time blocks for your social media usage and know when it’s time to stop. Since I use social media for my work, I still need to get into it. I create specific times during the week when I use social media. Then, I check in daily but for no more than 15 min.
  • Delete social media apps from your phone and use social media only on your desktop. This may be the easiest way to gain more time in your day.
  • If you need to use Facebook for work, use the business manager. This way, you won’t get into your personal feed and get distracted with what your friends are doing.
  • Take a 15 min break in between projects during the day and do something without your phone – go for a walk, close your eyes and breathe or have a conversation with someone. Scrolling on Instagram is not a break.
  • Avoid looking at your phone while having lunch. Instead, give your brain a break.
  • Use mindfulness throughout the day – keep your attention to one thing at a time, one project, one email, doing the dishes.
  • Find joy in real life – a real connection with a person, yourself, nature.
  • Seek accountability. Having a partner to hold you accountable for your social media use. My husband does a great job at this. In your case, it may be a family member or an app. Use technology to keep track of your tech time and hold you accountable. Make it a fun project to see if you can beat last week’s time and reward yourself when you do.

My Work Rituals to Keep Social Media Addiction in check and How I Break The Rules

I don’t look at my phone in the morning until I get 2-3 hours of focused work first. I know that the moment I check my phone, I start thinking of how to respond instead of working on what I want to. I resist the urge to check my phone until 11am or 12 noon.

I don’t book anything on my calendar in the morning so I can be sure that I won’t miss a meeting.

I look at my phone about 4 – 5 times throughout the day.

I give myself a cut off time in the evening and put my phone to charge in the living room, far away from the kitchen where I’m preparing dinner.

Some days, I like to listen to a guided meditation on my phone. I make sure it’s on airplane mode when I do so.

Once a week, I allow myself to “splurge” and spend 1-2 hours catching up on news and social media. Normally, this is on Sat morning. I’m very aware of how it makes me feel and decide if I want to do it again. Most weeks, the answer is a clear no. I’m human too and as long as I’m aware of how it makes me feel, I know that I can control my behavior.

Commit to Digital Well-Being

You may not have the luxury to go on a 10-day digital detox vacation but you can certainly disconnect in the evening and in the morning.

And you can take half a day on a weekend.

When you get comfortable with this, try a whole day on the weekend. See what else you can do at this time and simply leave your phone behind. Choose something fun so you don’t feel like you are missing out. Turn FOMO (fear of missing out) into JOMO (joy of missing out).

Don’t take pictures. Just take it all in and take a mental picture when you want to remember the moment.

Remember, we are in control of our behavior. We make our own choices.

Why would you let a smartphone be in charge of your life?

Commit to living a conscious and intentional life and use technology for all its wonderful applications and not for stealing your time and attention.

I choose to claim back my time and my life, say GoodBye to social media addiction and enjoy a healthy relationship with my phone.

How about you?

P.S. If you are interested in getting quick actionable tips to help you claim back your time and find more joy in living, join our membership program.

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