About a month and a half ago, I was feeling some major overwhelm prior to going on vacation. I was spending a lot of time running between networking meetings, client calls, keeping up with emails, creating content and staying on top of my social media.
I’ve always been able to manage a lot on my plate at once, but this time it was causing me to feel like I was trying to run underwater.
I felt slow, constantly behind, and short of breath. Vacation was my end goal. “Eyes on the prize!” I kept silently repeating to myself. As vacation neared, I realized that a full detox was in order. I hadn’t been in the flow content creation wise recently with all of the other things on my schedule, and something was telling me that I needed to step back from everything a bit, particularly social media. In order to really rest and regroup, I needed to truly disconnect from work and just be present during my time away.
So I set up a couple of parameters for my vacation:
No checking my business email.
No posting to my business Facebook and Instagram accounts.
No logging into my business social media accounts and checking messages/how previous posts were performing.
If I wanted to post anything, I could do it through my personal Instagram account.
While I caved and looked at my business email once (only once on my first day, I promise!), I held strong on the Instagram and Facebook fronts. In fact, I barely even looked at my personal Instagram account.
The more I stayed away from social media, the more I began to notice that:
I didn’t feel the need to check my feeds constantly.
I avoided my phone and computer.
I stopped thinking about how pictures might look on a post and only took 5 pictures the entire trip.
I was more in tune to what my body and soul needed.
I was more present in each day and with the people around me.
It was AMAZING!!!! I felt free. Free to show up in the moment and not worry about the future. To just be. Plain and simple. And damn was it refreshing!
While I realize that I took a partial social media detox (since I allowed myself to look at my personal Instagram), the main point is that I took a detox from the part of social media that I felt was running my life recently: my business accounts.
When I worked for someone else, I used to be really good at disconnecting myself from all things work related while I was on vacation. I’ve always been a firm believer that your vacation days were just that: your vacation days and took advantage of them accordingly.
But since I started working for myself and trying to get a brand new business off the ground, I didn’t realize how little I was following my old policy.
I wasn’t working insane hours and I’d taken days off, but the little things were starting to add up: checking Instagram right before bed, planning out my Facebook posts, making sure I was consistent in my frequency and messaging across multiple platforms, etc. Those little moments that I didn’t necessarily consider “working” were still keeping me from feeling like I was taking a break from work.
Even if you aren’t running your own company, I’m willing to bet there are ways that social media is preventing you from taking a break. I don’t necessarily mean a break from work. I mean a break from being “on”. A break from feeling the need to post visually appealing photos, to curate your life, to be likable.
So I'm now on a mission to convince everyone to take a social media detox, even for just a day! It felt that good! Have a look at my top 3 benefits of taking a social media detox and let me know if you're in!
BENEFITS OF TAKING A SOCIAL MEDIA DETOX
1. Being present in the moment
In this day and age, we are all tied to our phones and computers all of the time. We scroll through social media feeds when we’re waiting for a friend to meet us for coffee. We compulsively check our emails right before bed, and then again right when we wake up. We walk down the street or sit on the subway engrossed in our phones because there is "nothing else to do." We’re bombarded by news 24/7 because we're constantly tapped into it through our devices.
This constant connection with our phones means that, in a way, we are always looking at something that is not the present moment around us.
Taking a social media detox means there are fewer things to do on your phone and right away will make you less apt to be constantly staring at the screen, freeing you up to engage with the world around you in that moment.
As a result, you won’t find yourself compulsively refreshing your Instagram or Facebook feed in the midst of a conversation with a friend, significant other or family member. You’ll be more engaged in conversations instead of halfway listening while you scroll.
Similarly, if you’re on vacation or doing something fun, you’ll be more in the moment if you’re not worrying about how it will look on social media. If you feel compelled to take photos, they will be for your own enjoyment and remembrance, rather than for other people to see. Like me, you may just find that you don’t even feel the need to pull out your phone to take photos.
Additionally, I'd argue that you'll be more in tune with your body's needs in a given moment. Your body is great at giving cues about hunger, need for movement, need for sleep, etc. and you'll be more apt to listen to them if you're not sitting on your couch looking at food photos on Instagram or getting lost down rabbit hole of cute animal videos on Facebook.
2. Better sleep
There is lots of research showing the negative effects of looking at smartphone screens right before bed. Your iPhone even has a “Night Shift” setting to change the coloring of your screen at a certain hour at night to help with this.
Along these lines, looking at social media right before bed does nothing beneficial for your sleep. Not only is the screen not good for you to look at at that hour (due to blue light), it doesn’t help your brain get ready for rest either.
Think about it, if you’re looking at your news feed and getting sucked into articles or profile hopping at a time when you’re supposed to be hitting the hay, you’re only winding up your brain more. How can you then expect yourself to simply close your eyes and drift off? You can’t.
By taking a social media detox, you won’t feel the same urge to look at your phone right before bed because there will be nothing to check (besides maybe email, but let's say you're not allowed to check that at night either during your detox either). In turn, you’ll find yourself drifting off to sleep more quickly and sleeping more soundly.
3. A break from constant self-comparison
We are all guilty of engaging in some form of comparing ourselves to others. It's a natural human experience.
When we were little, it was mainly celebrities or other girls in school that we’d compare ourselves to, and even that was often damaging to our self-esteem and confidence. Now though, the levels at which we can take self-comparison are even worse. With the tap of a finger, you can be connected to a world of people (complete strangers) far beyond your own community who are seemingly “better” than you.
On social media, there will always be someone who you perceive as thinner, richer, prettier, more successful in their business, you name it. While social media can be an amazing way to share ideas and learn, the sheer volume of self-comparison made possible by social media is tiring and having an effect on us. In fact, just recently studies have come out regarding the negative effects of social media on people’s body image, anxiety, confidence, sleep, etc.
Taking some time away from social media lets you take a break from all of this. It lets you rest, do what feels right for you, and not worry about anyone else. By removing an avenue of self-comparison, you can begin to shift your mindset away from a lack mentality and focus on all of the awesome things that you bring to the table.
When you come back, you’ll come from a place of deeper self-compassion and have fresh eyes on your newsfeed. It might even help you to regain some perspective on which brands and people make you feel good versus shitty about yourself, empowering you to better decide who to follow/unfollow. I've been doing this myself and I can't tell you how much better I feel looking at a newsfeed full of empowering images and people rather than accounts that make me feel inadequate.
So there you have it, girlfriend! Have I convinced you to take a social media detox or what?
Let me know in the comments below when you’ll be taking one! Once your detox is over, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org - I’d love to hear about your experience and how it went!