Helloooooo and happy July!
I’m feeling particularly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning and have no doubt my recent vacation from social media had something to do with it.
Though I can’t recall the exact date I logged off, I know it’s been at least three weeks since my last Facebook or Instagram post. The little blue bird doesn’t really trigger my compulsive tendencies, so there’s a chance I may have retweeted a particularly inspiring Hunter S. Thompson quote or two during this time.
The 21-day social media detox
When I first decided to take this break from social media, I didn’t have any timeline in mind. I wanted to go at least four days. Four easily melted into ten. Before I knew it, I was two weeks in and feeling great.
At that point, I felt refreshed enough to log back in but decided to hold out for at least three weeks instead.
Because I remembered reading somewhere that 21 days is about how long it takes to establish a new habit or break an addiction. I think this info came from my 21-day sugar detox a few years back.
Throughout the past month or so, I’ve been on a bit of a detox kick. This includes, but is not limited to:
- A 7-day detox from sugar (and all sweeteners), grains, alcohol, and dairy
- Cleaning out my closet and donating/selling clothes on eBay
- Wiping the dog-nose prints from my windows
- Many Epsom salt baths
Spring cleaning to the max! (Now that it’s officially summer- my oven needs to be cleaned.)
It felt so good to do those things, I thought I should purge my mindspace as well. The idea to take a break from social media came to me during meditation. To be honest, I resisted for a few days. I mean, how was I supposed to let the world know what position my dog was napping in every day???
Finally, I made the commitment. I knew it would be good for me.
Sooo… the results?
I feel amazing. Calmer, more centered, and frighteningly focused on my own needs.
Why frightening? Because unplugging from social media took away the comfort blanket of distraction.
Instead of scrolling through other people’s lives in search of amusement, I had to create it myself. Instead of getting sidetracked from my work, I had to finish it.
And then, in my free time, I came face-to-face with the areas of my life that have been screaming for my attention, stifled by my quest for the perfect gif to stick to my Instagram story.
Focus on what really matters
I learned that, even without social media, I struggle with time management. Balancing my freelance writing career with an ultrarunning training schedule while trying to maintain a social life is fucking challenging. On top of that- I’m trying to plan a fall wedding.
Feeling like I never had “enough time” was one of the primary reasons I logged off in the first place. Learning that this wasn’t a quick-fix issue was rather disheartening, but I decided to be proactive about it.
I downloaded Don’t Eat That Frog, a book on time management strategies. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Time isn’t the only dimension of my existence that needs a little TLC. Throughout the past three weeks, I came to terms with the fact that I need to organize several areas of my life, including my finances and my living space.
The latter inspired me to learn more about feng shui. So, one particular evening, I searched Spotify for the subject and discovered this AMAZING podcast that every self-help nerd will adore.
Listening to Self-Helpless is my new favorite thing to do in place of cyber-stalking. So much better for my sanity.
Another major factor in my decision to put down the phone was the detrimental effects of excessive screen time on my mental health, attention span, and creativity.
Without the temptation to open social apps, my phone stayed out of my face more often than not. Instead of killing time with Instagram while waiting in line at the grocery store, I had to just take a deep breath and be patient.
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Just like any other withdrawal from an addiction, it got better.
Without brief blurbs to suck up my attention, I had to focus on other things: long-form articles, books made from paper, podcasts, and conversations with living people.
The improvement in my attention span alone has convinced me to continue a very limited diet of social media moving forward. I feel happier, more peaceful, and much less anxious.
The most important thing I learned from taking three weeks off social media was that I don’t need it. At all.
Yes, social media is great for connection. Yes, I will keep my accounts. But the notion that social media is essential to stay connected is bullshit.
The people who matter to me most continued to reach out to me- individually. We continued to have meaningful conversations.
I still did awesome things and took photos- to be shared as I see fit.
My website still attracted visitors.
I never got bored.
If you think you may need a break from social media, I highly recommend it! Or, if you’ve already done your own digital detox, I’d love to hear about that, too. Feel free to share in the comments!
Now that I’ve officially declared my break over, I guess it’s time to scan all those little red notifications… or maybe I’ll just clean the oven.