Could you step away from social media? Here's what happens when you detox (video)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Thinking about taking a break from social media? Here's why you should give it a try.

So what happens when you log out of social media and detox?

We put a Cleveland woman to the challenge.

With thousands of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, Chef Anna Harouvis of Anna in the Raw fame is always on social media.

"I might have a little bit of a problem," said Harouvis when asked about her constant social media use.

She's been in the restaurant game for years, but her larger-than-life social media presence is what got her on Food Network shows like "Cutthroat Kitchen".

Today you can catch her in the IMG Building, 1360 East 9th St., serving up healthy bites and her signature cold press juice detoxes.

She's made such a name for herself in the juicing world some of her clients include the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees (but we won't talk about that).

Her juices not only energize athletes, but leave her everyday clients feeling happier and healthier.

So what happens when we put the cold press juice detox queen on a social media detox?


She agreed to our experiment, but was already reluctant that she may be tempted to cheat.

"I totally said (to myself) I can't cheat, but I've been thinking about it. But I'm not going to, because I need it," said Harouvis.

We kept the rules simple: No social media for an entire week. That means no Facebook, no Twitter, no Snapchat, no Instagram – none of it.

Her only requirement was that she send in at least one video diary a day updating us on her progress.

Of course, she couldn't help but post one final video to Snapchat before logging off.

"I'm so sad. Logging off social media for a week," she said staring into the camera.

And then, the experiment started.

It didn't take her long to send in her first video diary -- just hours into the detox.

"I think this is hilarious. I'm shipping a professional sports team juices in a Frito-Lay container," she said to the camera.

It was fun and laughs hours into the experiment, but by the end of the day Harouvis started to miss social media.

"I can't believe how many times I pull out my phone to spy on people or just see what everybody's up to," she said.

So how much social media is too much? Researchers say there's no magic number, but when the digital world begins to take over your real world it's probably time to cut back.

By day three of her detox Harouvis was beginning to think about her phone less and the people in her life more. In one of her videos she even said that she was beginning to forget to record her daily diaries.

At the end of her third day of detox she was able to reflect on social media and the place it had on her life.

"Usually this is what I would post," she said in one of her videos as she showed of a beautiful shot of Cleveland's skyline at night. "We want to make everyone think we're so cool. So, just remember social media doesn't show you what's in the rear-view mirror."

In her fourth day she realized just how much everyone else around her was glued to their smartphones. She said being removed from that was making her feel better about herself and her outlook on life.

But, in her fifth day, the emotional roller coaster she was on took a deep plunge.

She started missing social media, again.

She shot her video diary while on the sideline of a Washington Redskins game – one of the teams she juices for.

"We would totally be snapping like crazy. So I totally miss social media today," said Harouvis.

And she still had two more days of detox to go.

What she was experiencing is jokingly called "FOMO" or Fear of Missing Out on the internet, but some in the medical community warn it could be something far more serious.

The issue is what Dr. Scott Frank, Director of the Master of Public Health Program at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, calls "process addiction."

"Using social media in itself isn't bad. Just like drinking isn't bad. It's excessive use that's bad," said Frank. " ... and when the use begins to impair your health, that's when we as doctors begin to become concerned about it."

Frank has studied the effects of social media and screen time on kids. He found too much time online could have a negative effect on mental health – issues like anxiety and even depression.

"That pulling in we see with social media is one of the primary characteristics we see with addiction." said Frank. "If you have one cigarette you want the next cigarette. If you have one drink you want the next drink."

He does point out not everyone who heavily uses social media is addicted to it.

Those with addictive tendencies should be more concerned than others.

Frank applauded Harouvis for her social media detox and thinks more people should consider trying it, even if for a shorter period of time.

"Self-awareness about the choices we make around social media use, television use is an important thing," he said.

So after a week of social media detox, how was Harouvis feeling?

"I realized that I probably was addicted," she said. "And I realized I really don't have a lot of friends I talk to in real life. People will just hit me up and 'like' something and that's a way of us communicating. But people didn't really text me 'How are you?'"

But the news wasn't all bad.

She felt more productive and less attached to her phone.

"At night I was just sleeping so much better. Watching that little screen, what every doctor says, is the worst thing for your brain. I slept better. I had better dreams."

When asked whether she would do another social media detox, she agreed it would be beneficial, but doubts she could undergo another full week disconnected from the digital world.

"I think that everybody should do it. Just like I think everybody should cleanse and give their body a chance to recover," said Harouvis.

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