If you would have asked me a year ago if I would ever consider going social media free, I would have made every excuse in the book on why I couldn’t do it. I mean, I knew I could, but I felt like I had all these other obligations that I HAD to attend to so it wasn’t feasible for me to ever take a break from it all. Plus I had friends where social media was my only point of contact for them.
But a couple weeks ago, the leader of the church I’m a part of asked the women to go on a 10-day social media fast. I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision to make. My mind already tried to come up with every excuse in the book to not do it, but I knew in my heart that it was something that I should do.
I spoke to mom about my concerns and what to do about business related things that needed to be done on social media. After talking with her, it was determined that what my issue was wasn’t going on social media itself but the scrolling and constantly checking notifications. So we both felt it was okay if I went on for a minute or so to take care of anything I needed to that was business related, but I wouldn’t allow myself to do anything beyond that.
Lastly, I set a date to start and had a checkbox to check off when I completed a day of going social media free.
So what did I learn during those 10 days?
It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be
The first day, it was a bit of a struggle, mostly because I catch the train to work and on my way there, I’ll usually scroll through my different social feeds. But I was mindful about my goal, so I got myself out as quickly as I hit the button to go into the Facebook app.
But after that first day, it wasn’t so bad. I only found myself struggling one other time, around the second day. I was sitting on the couch, not really doing anything else and not really feeling like I wanted to do anything else. I started drumming my fingers and my husband asked what was wrong and if I was waiting for him to get something done. I told him, “No. Now is normally when I’d be scrolling through Facebook so I’m trying to decide what I can do.” I ended up going to bed early, which was actually a good thing since I typically don’t feel like I get enough sleep.
I developed other habits
Before having social media, especially on a place so easily accessible as my phone, I spent my idle time reading or spending time with family and friends (besides just sitting around while we are all on our phones).
Since I wasn’t waste my time on social media, I ended up spending time reading again. I focused on reading scriptures as that’s been a habit of mine that I’ve only really had once in my life.
I also had a friend over for dinner and we got to talk and spend time like we used to do when we were kids when social media wasn’t around. Though if I’m being honest, we did have other distractions then like boys and video games!
In general, I felt like I was able to pay more attention to what was going around me and even now that I’m back to scrolling, I can tell the difference from when I was going social media free and want to be more mindful to give my full attention to what’s in front of me.
I replaced my idle time with puzzle games
I am not ashamed to say that a lot of why I spend time on social media is because it gives me something to do. I have a hard time just sitting there doing nothing. I have to me moving my hands, even if it’s a scrolling motion.
What I did during this time was find some new puzzle games on my phone that I could play. I liked these because they at least made me think so I didn’t feel like I was wasting time. I could also listen to what was going on around me since it didn’t require reading other people’s statuses.
That being said, I do think I could have done better at finding something else to fill my time rather than another phone app.
My anxiety levels went down
Admittedly, my anxiety goes through the roof a lot when I scroll through social media. It can be from comparing what I don’t have to what others do have, but that’s not always what sets it off. All I know is that when I spend more time on social media, I have more anxiety attacks than when I spend less time.
While it didn’t take away my anxiety completely, it was nice to be more mindful of what sets me off and helps me to recognize what I can do when I’m starting to feel that anxiety creep up on me.
I didn’t miss as much as I thought I would
When it came time going back on social media, I totally forgot I could go on until about midway through the day after my last day. And even then I didn’t rush onto the first social media site I could find. I knew it would be there and wasn’t going anywhere.
So when I went back onto Facebook (the first site I went back onto), I check the notifications that I could (did you know that after a certain point, your notifications won’t load?), and then scrolled for a bit through my feed to catch up a bit.
I had a number of friends whom also did a social media fast, like myself, so they had their own posts of saying “I’m back” and I wished a Happy Birthday to those that I could still see their birthdays were missed. But I honestly didn’t feel like I’d missed out on much at all. And with the way Facebook shows my feed, I don’t see it in chronological order anyway, so many of the posts that were done while I was away came up eventually.
And my other social site I check often (Instagram), I felt the same way! The only thing I was sad to have missed was my friend’s Instagram Stories from her trip to Japan, but I did catch the tail end of it!
If you haven’t gone social media free before, I hope you’ll give it a chance. While the benefits you’ll find for yourself may be different from what I found when going social media free, I believe the outcome will be the same: that it’s worth it to do at least once. I’ve learned to be more mindful about how I spend my time and that I can’t allow myself to get sucked into something for hours when I could be working to improve myself or spending time with family. I still get on my social site more often than not, like before, but I have also noticed it’s not as often as I used to. And I know that if I end up getting too invested again, I can do another social media fast and I’ll be okay!
Have you tried going social media free before? Let me know your experience! I’d love to hear!