the past few weeks i've been feeling kinda icky, and while my mental state often fluctuates, this time i wanted to try and do something to actively improve it. my attempted solution? to swear off social media for the length of last week. a seven-day social media 'cleanse', if you will.
now i understand how this could seem like a strange fix to my latest mental health crisis, so i guess maybe a little back story may be helpful... the real issue that brought upon this desire to get off social media, and maybe partially explained my icky-ness, was how absent i was feeling. i came to realise that i was rarely completely present in moments, and this was causing a lot of my anxiety and negative feelings/thoughts. i think a lot of us tend to use social media as a distraction - a distraction from reality and from our inner self. while sometimes a distraction can be necessary and beneficial, on the other hand, using social media can often distract us from getting in touch with and exploring deeper within ourselves. for me, and i'm sure others, social media also often acts as a tool to encourage procrastination. i regularly find it difficult to focus on one task at a time - for example, whilst writing this blog post a few times i've mindlessly clicked between different social media websites and checked my phone, without even really consciously thinking about doing it. for many, social media has brought up this habit of feeling the need to constantly be 'in the loop' and updated.
while this desire or 'challenge' to get off social media for a while was predominately to see if it would affect my headspace in a positive way, i also wanted to try and use this time to create better habits in my life in general. one aspect i wanted to change was the way in which i started my day. for a very long period of time, my morning routine was to wake up, roll over, and proceed to check every form of social media app, before i had really even taken a proper breath or fully opened my eyes. no wonder i was feeling disconnected and absent - i started every day immediately with external stimuli, when i really needed to tap into and deal with the internal stuff to set my day up for feeling good.
so my mission for the week was : no use of social media (excluding facebook messenger to make plans and youtube to watch educational videos only), to meditate every morning as soon as i woke up then follow that with yoga, and to educate myself instead of distract myself through the media i was consuming.
and what happened when i got off social media for a week? the world didn't end, i didn't suddenly become the equivalent of a monk living on a mountain, and i didn't miss out on anything groundbreaking.
what DID happen was...
: i created a daily morning routine that actually set me up for a good day. every morning i meditated, starting with 5 minutes and worked my way up to 15 minutes, followed by a yoga video from yogawithadriene's revolution 31 days of yoga, and then i ate a nutritious breakfast outside in the sun. just a simple routine like that made me feel so positive most mornings, and inspired me to be productive for the rest of the day.
: i connected more with my inner self. i think this was partially also to do with reading the book light is the new black at the start of my social media free week. throughout the week i really began to notice i was becoming more connected with my inner self. for me that meant really checking in and listening to my true inner thoughts and trusting my intuition or instincts. i thought much deeper into things than i had in a while, which i think, hopefully, will lead to positive changes in my life. i also started paying much more attention to the way in which things were impacting my energy, which is such an important skill to have.
: i became more present. as mentioned earlier, this was one of the main goals i hoped to achieve throughout the week. i found that not constantly scrolling through photos or having the urge to check my phone meant that i did feel much more present in moments. take away that distraction and you're left far more emerged in reality.
: i learnt how to be bored and what to do with that feeling. when you have social media, the second you potentially might feel bored, a swipe on your phone and you have a whole world of entertainment at your fingers. i think this reliance has led to a lot of us not truly experiencing the feeling of boredom ever anymore. without this option of entertainment, i had to sit with myself when i felt bored and consciously come up with something that didn't include vegging out on my phone. for me that was most often picking up a book, doing yoga or going outside, which were all far more positive options for my wellbeing and happiness.
: i read more books than i had in weeks. i finished a new book (previously mentioned light is the new black - which is soo good btw) in two days, which a few years ago would've been normal, but could now be considered a record in recent years. i also got a fair way through another book as well. unfortunately reading has been something i've neglected quite a bit over the past few years, even though its something i've always deeply loved, so getting back into that (even if only out of boredom) was a super nice thing for me.
: i started to crave educating myself. throughout the week i watched countless ted talks and documentaries. again, mostly initially due to boredom, i began to seek out 'real media' to consume, and consequently, fell back in love with learning. having finished with school last year, my education is now completely in my own hands, and this social media free week really instilled in me how important and enjoyable learning can be.
: i spent more time with my family. instead of eating lunch by myself or going straight into my room after dinner, i watched documentaries with them. not only was this a positive form of media and learning for both me and my family, but it was also nice to just be with them and not isolate myself to the digital world.
: i connected with people more. or, at least, i really tried to make the effort to. instead of not fully being in conversations, as we all can sometimes be, i consciously tried to truly listen to people and what they were saying. i think in a lot of situations the quote "people don't listen, they just wait for their turn to talk" can ring true. being hooked in social media and the constant fast-pace social updates, i know i find that i'm often not fully present in conversations, which i'm sure can lead to feelings of disconnectedness.
: i did things i love. as well as getting back into reading and yoga, i updated my blog, which you may have noticed, and decided to really start using this outlet more. i enjoyed making visual creative changes to this blog and writing/creating my last few posts so so much. my social media free week really helped me get in touch with what i love and want to do.
: my self esteem improved. i wouldn't say that i'm the type of person that often compares myself physically to others, but i think when we scroll through so many 'perfected' moments and photos, it must subconsciously affect us and our opinion of ourselves in comparison to others. i'm sure i wasn't imagining that not looking at images of unrealistic appearances made me feel better about myself.
thats a lot of good stuff starting to happen in just a week hey. and while this post has been on the topic of getting off social media, i think some of the positive change has to be attributed to more just the time i took and effort i put into the other things and developing those positive changes. just deleting your social media apps alone isn't going to produce huge positive results, but it can sure help.
as i write this post a few days after my social media-free week, i'm not going to lie and pretend i haven't often become stuck back in my mindless clicking between apps. i have, however, become far more mindful at realising when that mindless clicking instinct is occurring, and trying to limit it and choose something productive to do instead. as soon as i downloaded the apps back, i also went through instagram and unfollowed hundreds and hundreds of accounts. this means that my feed is now far smaller, and of content that is inspiring and motivating. i'm still reading and i've managed to keep my morning yoga routine every day, and meditation when waking up most days. i'm also doing a much better job at focusing on one thing at a time - i've almost finished writing this blog post with far less clicks to social media apps than would have occurred before, so heck yeah for that!
so while this week-long cleanse didn't necessarily result in me forever swearing off social media, i did begin to learn how to better use those apps and my time, as well as getting more in touch with my inner self. honestly, i think i might have a repeat of this week very soon - i'm sick of social media again already and am not done with this learning and bettering of myself.
i hope this post maybe inspires you to have a think about the way you are currently using social media and if that is acting in a positive or negative way towards your mindset and life. i really encourage taking a break and switching off for a while. i promise your social life will still continue and you won't become completely disconnected from the world (you probably won't miss scrolling through all those bikini photos either). i don't think social media is an inherently awful thing, it all comes down to how you use it. use it to build yourself up, learn, and make meaningful connections, don't use it to distract and numb yourself.
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