On the 27th of March I took a break from social media. I planned to stay a way for 21 days. Now, 6 weeks later, I’m very slowly easing back in to using Instagram and Facebook.
Let me tell you what happened.
Why I took a break
Over the last year I grew more and more attached to my phone. Endlessly scrolling, mindlessly watching reels, reading posts from people I don’t even follow.
Since I run an online business, I never really contemplated the option of quitting social media. But the course on marketing your business without social media by Leonie Dawson, inspired me to take a break from social media.
So that is what I did.
What I expected
I knew that I was addicted to the scrolling. To checking if there were new comments on my posts. To watch reel after reel without even remembering what I was watching.
Maybe a little naïve, but I thought that by deleting the apps, and blocking some websites, the need for scrolling would just stop. And the time on my phone would drastically decrease.
That is not what happened..
What really happened
The first two weeks went really well. Yes, I picked up my phone often, just to put it back down again because the apps were gone. And I would just leave it at that.
The moments where I would normally scroll away for an hour, I filled with caring for my plants and planting new veggies in our garden.
The weeks after that I slowly found ways to scroll again on my phone. After an update of an app, some blocked sites were unblocked, and I thought it would be fine. But it made it possible for me to scroll through YouTube shorts, I checked news sites multiple times a day, even though I don’t like to read the news and I checked my email often.
So yeah, I was not on Instagram. That felt nice, to not ‘have’ to post anything for a while. But I still spend way too much time mindlessly on my phone.
The things I learned
Even though my experiment did not go as I expected. I learned some important things.
- Blocking apps and sites on my phone does help.
- Putting away my phone and closing my laptop also really helps. Out of sight, out of mind.
- When I’m feeling well rested and happy, I hardly pick up my phone at all.
- However, when I’m feeling tired or anxious, I will find a way to be distracted somehow by my phone or laptop.
It looks like there is a component that is more important then just restricting my access to social media. My mental health.
So, now what?
I would love to keep using social media. I think Instagram is an awesome place for quilters. I love the quilting community over there, sharing your work, getting inspired by others. There are so many lovely quilting friends on Instagram that I really missed over the last 6 weeks.
But I only want to use my phone in a healthy way. That is why I’m quite happy with the outcome of my social media break.
The changes I’m making
I learned that it’s not enough for me to just limit my time on the apps. First of all I should make sure that I’m feeling OK. Checking in with myself more often, taking a deep breath, feeling if there is something I need in that moment. I think those things will help me stay more present, which will make my actions mindful instead of mindless.
For this I have set a ‘Bell of Mindfullness’ on my phone from the Plum Village app. This is a bell which sounds every 30 minutes throughout my day. Whenever I hear it, I try to stop, breath, and ask myself if I’m doing the thing I want to do right now.
And I would love to pick up my yoga practice and meditate more often. But, well I’m no Buddha (yet) ;)
Will I be setting time limits on the apps to protect my time? Yes, for sure. But I’m not going to solely rely on that measure anymore.
I thinks it’s great that there is always something to learn. Something to practice. There is always room for change, room for growth.
So that’s my story on my social media break. There was a lot more to it then I initially thought and I’m happy that I got to discover that.
Have a wonderful day!
I love the idea of the timer app. I can see it could be useful in many different situations to ensure we are being of out time and doing what is really the most important to us. A wonderful self-reflection
Irene – Enjoyed your very thoughtful post. Most of us could do with more moderation in our lives! Easier said than done though 🙃
Thanks so much! I should really cut back too, and I have work to get done. While I can’t quit social media entirely, I need to figure out how to cut back. Your post is a good reminder!!
Irene, thank you so much for this post! It resonated with me on a very deep level, and I will be going back to the top to read it again – slowly, mindfully – because there is so much here that I can learn and apply in my own life. Thank you for sharing your reflections and wisdom so generously. May you be always well and happy. With much love from Queensland, Australia xx
Remember that social media is a tool, meant to be used when there is a task to complete. Do you continue to pick up a hammer endlessly all day just because you used it to drive a nail? Social media can be addictive. Make a list of specific tasks to be completed online and stick to the list, crossing items off as you finish them. Do not allow yourself to be side-tracked. Quit when the list is done. Then get on with the rest of your wonderful, active, creative life! The hours of our lives are precious and should not be wasted staring at a screen.