Social Media Detox: What I've Learnt
A lot of you already know about my detailed resolutions list for 2018, I split up my months of the year into target areas. For example, January was mental health and wellbeing month this included sobriety, daily yoga and a social media detox. I'm not exaggerating when I say the impact was huge and since I've talked already about the yoga and dry January now's the time to talk about the good ol social media. I've had a love/hate relationship with my phone ever since I was gifted my first pink Motorola Razr (that makes it sounds like I'm an Instagram influencer, but I assure you it was Mamma Brooks). Without going into too much detail mainly because I've documented it extensively in my upcoming book, but technology has never gone smoothly for me.
From desperately checking BBM when I could have been enjoying my teenage years to crying when my profile pictures didn't get that many likes. More recently it's been Instagram and Youtube that has made me hyper-aware of the imperfections of my life and body. This awareness can be good sometimes if you're looking to healthily make improvements, but I used these platforms as a stick to beat myself with when my self esteem was already at rock bottom. I've already discussed how disordered eating was one major component but the consequences went way beyond body confidence. Even the apparently harmless video of 'morning routines' made my everyday life and breakfast feel insufficient. So, I started to perfect my IRL to match the idealised version of my idols.
I'm not saying everyone is addicted to social media (but you might be). I'm saying I was. First thing in the morning I would clear my Instagram feed and subscription box on YouTube. All that I had to talk about with friends was what my favourite influencers were up to. Taking that to it's saddest extreme I would even refer to these online people as my friends in conversations with older people. I knew it was making me feel like crap, but I couldn't stop scrolling and watching and obsessing. In the past I've taken extreme approaches to cutting out technology from switching to a Nokia for 6 months during my gap year (oh my friends loved that) to deleting all of my accounts multiple times. Even though I felt a lot better when I made these challenges to myself I've realised it's not sustainable in the long term.
Flashforward to January and I was looking to carve out some time in my day for yoga and journalling. The obvious period was the 45 minutes I used to spend every morning on social media. So, I offered my addiction up to the Gods and vowed to substitute it for a healthier mindset. Here were my ground-rules:
1) Educational YouTube videos like TED talks and Super Soul Sessions were A OK
2) My birthday was a special exception - even though I didn't feel like checking that much when it came around
3) Facebook and Instagram to post on behalf of my work was okay
The reason I put this framework in place was to be lenient with myself. If you want me to fail every time tell me I can never do something ever again. Most of the time it was taking it everyday as it comes and after a week or so I stopped even thinking about it. What I realised is how quickly I turn to my phone or laptop when I feel sad or bored. Becoming more aware about how I was using social media to numb discomfort was really eye-opening for me. This exercise forced me to sit with those uncomfortable feelings instead of blocking them out. Also, my body confidence shifted over night. Genuinely, I was kinder to myself in the mirror and my lifestyle became less restrictive. Not having to look at fitspo models in bikinis first thing in the morning had drastically re-shifted my perspective. Reminding myself that body dysmorphia is a LIAR and I have a great bod if I do say so myself.
Last but not least, this exercise made me really conscious about how much time I waste on my phone. Even now two months after the detox is over I'm a lot more conscious of moderating my usage. In fact, writing this blog post has reminded me to try and cut it out more often. Social media is like clutter for your brain it fills it up and overloads it with information. More importantly, you don't have that much control over the content you are seeing and it's sometimes easy to be triggered by something that can set your day on a negative trajectory. On the part you do have control over, the first thing I did when I ended the detox was go through my following on Instagram and subscriptions on YouTube making sure they were all body positive and generally positive. Life's too short to be negative and these people's content can really affect you day-to-day.
All in all, if you're looking to give this a try I'd recommend starting small. Maybe leave your phone at home when you go out on a date or turn your phone off at a certain time in the evening and read instead. I've got loads more tips in my book which is nearly ready for second draft (get excited!). But, for now drop me a message if you have any questions or comments - I love hearing from you! Don't forget if you enjoyed this read to give it a like on Facebook (ironic I know) it helps other people to find it and let's me know what content to produce in future.
All my love, Sam