A week without social media

I took a week off of social media. And as you can see, I survived.

Social media is part of my daily life — as I’m sure it is for many you. It’s not only part of my personal life but my professional life as well. I work in communications, so I spend time at work strategizing how we can use social media to reach people with a health message.

I love social media. I love that I’m able to keep up with what family and friends are doing. I love that I’m able to share moments and memories from my own life. But I started noticing some not-so-good things and habits, too.

  • I’d wake up in the morning and check Facebook or Instagram before even getting out of bed.
  • I’d mindlessly scroll through my feeds looking at pictures and status updates on my phone. Not all bad, but still a lot of time on social media channels rather than connecting with people in real life.
  • I’d spend all that time on social media and come away not feeling as good about myself or my life. A great thing about social media is sharing things from your life, but a bad thing is when you start comparing your life with other people.
  • I’d post something and find myself constantly checking to see how many “likes” it got.

It was around the holidays that all of these habits and feelings came to a head for me. I decided I needed to do something to reset my social media mindset. I figured January was a good time since it was a new year and the perfect opportunity to just step away for a week.

I primarily use social media on my phone, so on a Saturday night I deleted my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat apps to reduce temptation. From that moment on, I was off social media for seven whole days. And you know what–it was surprisingly easy. I didn’t miss it as much as I thought I would.

In those first couple of days, I still had the impulse to go on social media and check out what was going on, but I’d move on to do something else and it would go away. On Monday of that week we had a really big snow storm, and I was definitely tempted to share a picture of the snow outside my front door, but the feeling quickly passed. I’ll share it with you now, though cause this post needs a couple pictures. 😉

After those first couple of days, I wasn’t noticing that urge as much. The week got easier as it went by; even when Facebook started sending me emails telling me a friend had posted a photo or updated their status to try and get me to come back to the channel. Before I knew it, seven days was over and the world hadn’t ended.

It felt really good to just unplug and reset both my habits and my mindset around social media in my personal life. I’m not giving up social media forever. The apps were re-downloaded on my phone after my week was over.

The usual things I post about will still show up on my profiles: running, food, etc. I even posted a food pic the day my break was over after brunch with friends.

But I am trying to change a few things to help keep a healthy relationship with social media.

  • Being mindful of how much time I spend on social media. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of scrolling and get lost in your feed. I want to spend some of that time connecting with friends offline or doing other things to stimulate my mind.
  • Turning off push notifications on my phone. I go on social media enough that I’m not concerned about missing things. I think things like the notifications from Instagram when someone liked a post just added to my need to constantly see how many likes it had. Not needed.
  • Reminding myself that someone’s social media life isn’t their real life. Most of us pick the fun, cute moments to share, so it can be easy to assume that everything is sunshine and roses in someone’s life (heck I’m guilty of doing that). I need to do better at stopping myself from comparing where I’m at in my life with where other people are. It’s not good for my mental health.

This break really showed me that while social media is really nice to have in my life, it’s not something I have to have to get through the day. I want to focus on the good things social media can bring to my life and limit the negative. I may take other social media breaks from time to time, even for a day, just to remind myself of these things if I start to forget.

Have you ever taken a social media break?

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