Over the last year especially, our phone has become our best friend. With connections at an all time low, we reach to our phone for friendships, relationships and to seek comfort if we are feeling bored or lonely. That ‘like’ or comment on a social media post providing a bit of a dopamine hit, especially over isolating periods. However unfortunately the consistent noise of social media can feel overwhelming – being surrounded by so many opinions, images and videos; which can not only feel intense, but provide an unrealistic representation of people’s reality, as we often only see the highs. That’s when the comparison can creep in – checking in on what others are up to and feeling inadequate if we aren’t doing the same.
I have noticed my screen time change a lot over the last year. Tapping that Instagram app as a habit and getting completely drawn in, which became more and more obvious when receiving that dreaded Monday morning screen time reminder. For this reason (and because I had a busy week which required as much productivity as possible) I decided to take a one week social media detox.
I am by no means an expert on this subject after just one week off, but I wanted to share what I noticed from the break, in case it would support / encourage others to take some time off if they are feeling the online burn out too!
What I noticed…
- Increased productivity
I got so much more done in a day!
Without time wasted scrolling first thing, I was able to get out of bed and actually make a start with my morning, and the productivity continued throughout the day without feeling dragged back in by social platforms!
- Feeling present
When chatting to loved ones, it’s easy to find ourselves part present and part in a social media bubble. The time off allowed me to be more calm and responsive in conversations, and more able to listen and concentrate on what was in front of me.
- Calm and in control
Social media for me, unfortunately comes with a sense of pressure. A pull back and demand to post / comment / share a presence; especially when using an account for work / business purposes. Because there was no pressure to post, share or actually be active online in any way, I felt a sense of calm and control all week – even though it was a busy one.
- Mindful moments
Without the stress and pressure of being active on social media, I was able to live more intuitively and listen to my body and what it needed. I found myself eating much more slowly and mindfully. Without the phone in one hand and fork in the other, I was able to sit present with myself and chew / enjoy my food at a healthier pace, whilst truly tuning into my hunger and fullness cues.
- Improved sleep
I’ve chatted in previous blogs about the impact of blue light before bedtime.
Screen time, whether it be scrolling social media or replying to emails, can trick our body and brain. We think the light exposure means it’s daytime therefore do not produce the appropriate amount of melatonin (sleep hormone) and bed time tends to be pushed later.
So many of us find ourselves scrolling online right up until we close our eyes. Getting out of that habit freed up some time for me to prioritise a proper wind down and because of this I really noticed a difference in my sleep – mainly not stirring or waking up as much throughout the night.
- Life (and business) went on!
I still chatted to friends; I still got business emails and enquiries. Life without social media went on.
Did I find it hard?
I thought I would find it a lot harder than I did. Once the temptation / habit after the first day subsided, I found it really enjoyable. Could have done it for longer!!
There is no denying there are lots of benefits of social media, both personally; staying in touch with friends and loved ones, and professionally; when trying to promote / advertise a business.
However, if we acknowledge we are feeling the online overwhelm, giving some of the below tips a try may be beneficial.
How will I move forward having a more positive relationship with social media?
I am going to keep boundaries in place. On the days that I am using social media I will avoid it first thing and right before bed. Hopefully this will help me to start the day with a positive mindset, and end it feeling ready to rest.
- Notifications off
I have kept my Instagram notifications off. We all know what it’s like to be drawn in by the Instagram pop up on our home screen. Keeping notifications off means I can log onto Instagram when I have some free time, but I am not drawn in unnecessarily; ‘The Social Dilemma’ style.
- Location of apps
I have placed my social media apps on the last page of my home screen, alone in a separate folder. That way it is more of an effort to reach them. And because it takes 3 or 4 steps to actually get onto the app, I have time to reconsider and address whether or not I actually want to engage.
- Set a timer
(Once I work out how) I am planning on setting a social media timer, so that a reminder pops up when I have been online for 10 – 15 minutes. I assume this will be a social scrolling saviour.
- Have regular breaks
I am planning to take two days off social media each week. The days may differ depending on my diary but they will always be two consecutive days. Hopefully this will continue a more positive relationship with the apps, whilst having some time and headspace from them to avoid burn out.
I hope these screen free tips have been helpful, and gently persuaded anyone who is toying with the idea of a social media detox to give it a go – it definitely left me feeling more calm, less stressed and reminded me that life really does go on without it!
Tune into this week’s IGTV on Friday at 9:30am where I will be chatting to Business Coach Helen Slater all about ways in which we can continue to thrive in our businesses without spending too much time on social media. It’s going to be a good one.
Holistic Health Coach - Anna Whyte
The ‘Wellness with Anna’ philosophy focuses on taking a more balanced and holistic approach to health. Often, the tools needed to make a lasting change are already in your toolbox. I offer client led guidance in order to support the progress of an individual working to meet their personal wellness goals. I will not diagnose, treat or take responsibility for bringing about wellness change, but direct, listen and support development. We work together on a journey to make health a main priority, both physically and mentally.