It’s hard to deny how useful Facebook is for keeping up with friends and family throughout the world. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people as you share interests in relevant groups and pages. But there’s also the dark side of Facebook that’s drama, stress, negativity, and the urge to compete and compare yourself with others. So take a break and do a Facebook fast to experience life without the big FB.
What Is a Facebook Fast?
You’ve heard of fasting, where you give up something for a set period. It’s the same process but with Facebook instead of food, a habit, or anything else. Some people actually take an entire social media fast, but you don’t have to step away from everything if you don’t want to.
The purpose is to take a complete break from Facebook. You won’t get on the app or site at all. If it’s on your phone, you stay logged out to avoid any notifications. You can either keep your account active or deactivate it (not delete) during the process. However, don’t be tempted to view any email notifications.
During your Facebook fast, stay away from Facebook. It’s that simple. But, it’s also hard to let go of the habit of constantly checking to see what everyone’s up to.
Benefits of a Facebook Fast
Everyone has their own reason, but for me, I got tired of friends constantly fighting over politics, the barrage of COVID news, people sharing fake news constantly, and feeling like I spent more time scrolling than any real socializing. So I made the choice to step away from Facebook for a full month.
However, taking even a short fast of around five days is enough to lower your cortisol levels, also known as your stress hormone. In a study performed by researchers at the University of Queensland, participants showed lower cortisol levels after five days but also reported feeling less satisfied from being cut off.
Of course, it all depends on how you use Facebook. It can easily lead to feelings of loneliness, jealousy, worthlessness, and envy. It can also be highly addictive. This is usually when you’re using Facebook to lurk, such as checking up on old rivals or comparing yourself to others.
When used to connect to people you care about, though, Facebook has actually been shown to improve your mental health. This is mainly with one-on-one interactions with people you know.
There are a variety of studies that show taking a break has both pros and cons. Overall, it’s more helpful than anything else, especially temporary breaks. It gets you away from news overload and creates free time for other pursuits, such as face-to-face socializing, learning a new hobby, exercising, or just relaxing quietly.
How to Take a Break from Facebook
First of all, you don’t have to delete your account. You can either just leave for a set period or deactivate your account. Your friends still see you on their friends’ list, but otherwise your profile is hidden until you return. Before you take a break, there are several things to do:
- Set a date and time frame that works for you. If you need Facebook for work, align your Facebook fast with a vacation. After all, who needs all that scrolling when you’re on vacation?
- Let people know. Some people may worry if you’re not responding. Provide anyone who may need you with an alternative way to contact you, such as a phone number or email address. A new profile picture or cover image saying you’ll be back soon works well.
- Decide what to do with your time. You’ll have the urge to use Facebook like normal. Pick something new to fill your time in advance so you’re not as tempted.
- Connect with others outside Facebook. This may involve phone calls, meeting in person for lunch, having a video chat, or going on a trip.
- Log out of the Facebook app everywhere to avoid temptation.
Does a Facebook Fast Work?
For some people, it’s a nightmare. They feel isolated, but that could also be because they might not live close to anyone they know well. Of course, pandemic conditions can contribute to the isolated feelings.
For me, it was a welcome relief. The first week was the hardest. I hated not being to see what my friends and family were up to with a few quick taps and swipes. I felt like I was missing out on everything.
Then I realized I had a lot of extra time each day. I used my time to read more, exercise, try out new dessert recipes, get outside more, spend more time talking to family and friends versus commenting and liking their posts, and staying away from the endless news and political drama. By the end of my month, I honestly felt better. I was less stressed, I was more productive, and I had no urge to go back.
Since I didn’t need Facebook for work, I actually left the network completely. I don’t feel like I’ve lost anything. But I know for most people, Facebook is the easiest way to stay connected, so you’re not just a hermit. However, try a week or two of a Facebook fast whenever you feel like you’re spending too much time on the network. It just may boost your mood and give you more free time.