Your daily screentime average is up 25% from last week. My screentime has been increasing weekly—and my iPhone loves to let me know it. If I had to guess, this is likely the case for many other people right now, too. We’re stuck at home; we’re bored; we’re checking news outlets more frequently; we’re pining for social interactions and engagement; we’re doing our best to stay up to date on the latest political updates. There are more reasons now more than ever (it seems) to scroll, scroll, scroll, endlessly on our social media feeds.

Now, this means that there are also more reasons now more than ever to check up on our social media habits. Heidi Faust, LCSW, a Licensed Therapist at Thriveworks, says that “social media use can exacerbate mental health problems. If you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts or compulsions to constantly check your social media accounts, despite the negative emotions it triggers, it may be time to stir up the routine.” Start by asking yourself: Is my time on social media helping or hurting my mental health? How do I feel when I scroll through Facebook, Instagram, or any other platform? If there is room for improvement, we have one very important recommendation, which will help you change your experience on social media: Consider clearing out your “friends” list.

Our feeds are controlled by the people we follow. We see their pictures, their statuses, their tweets, their stories. If their social media engagement isn’t benefiting us—or worse, it’s causing us harm—then we shouldn’t be following them. It’s that simple. So, take an honest look at the accounts you follow and do some spring-cleaning. Here are our tips for taking on this task, including how you can unfollow someone on social media without offending them:

1. Ask yourself the only question that matters.

When it comes to deciding whether or not you should unfollow someone on social media, there is only one question that matters: Does following their account benefit you in any way? If the answer is a hard no, then your decision is made. If, on the other hand, you benefit from following their account because…

  • Their posts lift you up
  • You like to stay up to date on what’s happening in their life
  • They share helpful information

…or for any other valid reason, maybe you don’t want to unfollow them after all. Now, there might be upsides and downsides to being their friend. It might also be a little trickier, say if it’s an old friend or distant relative you’re thinking about unfollowing. In these instances, you’ll probably need to make a pros and cons list to determine what the best course of action is. But remember the important question above and ultimately make your decision based on what’s best for you.

2. Keep your explanation short and sweet.

Odds are, they’ll never even know that you unfollowed them. Facebook, Instagram, and other leading social platforms don’t notify users when someone unfollows them. However, there are apps that you can download that do. And yes, some people take full advantage of these apps. Also, if someone has a sneaking suspicion that you unfollowed them, they might go to your profile to do some investigating. If they have a lead on this, they can easily check if you’ve unfollowed them by looking at your friends or your following list and searching for their name.

So, if someone does see that you have unfollowed them and they confront you about it, keep it simple. You don’t have to launch into a long-winded explanation. Briefly explain why you decided to unfollow them. For example: “I was cleaning out my friends list and we haven’t talked in a while. It’s nothing personal, I hope you’re doing well!” or, “We just don’t have any shared interests, I hope I didn’t offend you!” Yes, you can literally let them know that you don’t want or mean to offend them.

3. Don’t stress it.

If you’re unfollowing someone on social media, it’s either because following them is negatively affecting you or it just isn’t benefitting you. In either instance, do you really care whether this person is upset about it? We don’t mean this in a cruel way, but if someone’s upset that you’ve unfollowed them, it’s probably because…

  • They care about losing followers, not you specifically. If someone puts the time and energy into monitoring their followers, they care about their following… but they probably don’t care about the actual people who are following them. Their only concern is the number of followers that’s displayed on their profile. So, if they make a scene because they’ve noticed that you unfollowed them, don’t worry about it. Remember: you’re just a number to them.
  • They know they’ve hit a nerve. A lot of us are unfollowing people who are sharing controversial information or opinions. Odds are, if that’s why you’ve unfollowed someone, there are a lot of other people unfollowing this person too. And if someone loses a lot of followers or friends at once, they’re more likely to notice. They’ll realize they’ve hit a nerve, probably get upset about it, and then take their anger out on you (and others who have unfollowed them).

Now, if this is an old friend or family member that you’ve unfollowed, they notice, and they’re upset about it, this might necessitate a deeper, more extensive conversation. However, you still shouldn’t worry too much about it because again, this is all about putting your wellbeing first. And if that means unfollowing this person on social media, then so be it.

On a final note, keep in mind that you can be friends with someone in real life even if you decide to unfollow them on social media. Again, if it comes up, just explain why their social media account was negatively affecting you. Maybe this person constantly shares news updates, and you’re actively trying to limit your news exposure. This is a valid reason to unfollow them and a reason they’ll likely (hopefully) understand!

Clearing out your “friends” list on social media can be riveting. Once you’re finished, you can look forward to a whole new experience when you log on—an experience that will better support your mental health and wellbeing.