Hope you’re all really well. If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen I took a short social media detox at the end of 2020. It was actually an Insta Detox which is where I found I was spending most of my time.
I have just over 11K followers on Instagram, it’s the platform that I’m most present on and joined in 2012. I started using the platform to showcase my makeup work around 2013, and then once stories became available I was pretty much on there everyday.
Now since the pandemic hit and weddings came to a standstill, my content changed and I found I was posting more thoughts and things that I enjoyed rather than just work which was nice. People were enjoying it so I felt I could carry on sharing that type of content even more. If you’re unsure what kind of content I mean there’s more on my last blog post.
As weddings had stopped I took on the decision to do zero work or admin over the weekend. I’ve been working weekends (and stupidly early starts which at times feels like a night shift) for about 10 years now so I was looking forward to being able to have some me time over the weekend and enjoy the weekends with my husband.
I suppose this was kind of like a detox in itself. Then I decided to take it a step further and not post or scroll on Instagram over the weekend. It seemed a bit crazy at first… what am I going to do with my time, but now it’s a welcomed break. I also decided to stop sleeping with my phone next to me. I used to be in a habit of (which I’m sure many of you reading may still do) turning off the alarm on my phone and then seeing a few notifications which I would check, before I know it it’s been 10 minutes, and then 30 minutes and then an hour of scrolling. Like Jay Shetty says in his book, it’s like inviting 100’s of people into your bedroom before you’ve brushed your teeth or finished your morning routine.
So around 9pm every night I would leave my phone downstairs to charge and head upstairs to ‘unwind’. The first few days I was a little lost as I would usually be on whatsapp or insta before going to sleep. So I started reading books (not kindle versions). I never actually enjoyed reading as a child but now I can’t really say I’ve done my bedtime routine till I’ve read atleast a few pages of a book. Currently I’m reading Fear Less by Dr Pippa Grange.
In the morning I’d wake up and do my morning routine with no phone (remember you don’t need your phone for an alarm you can use an alarm clock like the good old days too.) I’d have a lovely start to the day without feeling anxious about my long to do list, or all the emails I had to get back to, and I wouldn’t end up checking my phone till 9am. So that’s a good 12 hours away from my phone, and I only had access to my phone for 12 hours in the day. That was a really big improvement for me.
So what I found was these small steps beforehand, made a week long (or three week long in my case) social media break less daunting. Also watching Social Dilemma on Netflix after making all these small changes motivated me further to carry on these new habits, as I knew they would help me and my mental well-being in the long run.
I decided to take my insta break as suggested by my Psychiatrist sister, Dr Devika. She’d been doing it for a while – not just a weekend break like I was used to, but she deleted the app from time to time and didn’t seem to miss it. It seemed a bit crazy but I was desperate to have a bit of time off so I did it – I initially thought I’ll have a week off, I ended up having three weeks off in total and will be doing it again.
When I returned from my break I felt refreshed, and present in all the tasks I did and I felt ready to start a fresh year.
I want to make it simple for you to understand and hopefully replicate so here’s some things you can implement and why.
Why did I need the break?
· I was spending so much time creating content.
· Constantly thinking about when to post and what to create next.
· Never present in the task I was doing
· It basically took over my life and not in a good way
· I spent more time concentrating on other people’s lives (or the small percentage that they posted) and wasn’t concentrating on what I can do for myself
· Watching others post their wins (remember hardly anyone posts their losses on Instagram) made me feel like I needed to do more, or needed to be better.
· It felt like a constant rat race!
Now generally, I’m a very positive and optimistic person, I acknowledge I am on my own path with my own purpose. I also like to keep my head down and get my work done and usually find it easy to drown out any noise around me. However I think with the pandemic, being at home and work coming to a standstill it definitely affected my mental well being as I’m sure it also affected you in some way.
So this had to stop. I had to take the break for ME.
Was it easy to do? Because I had implemented small changes over a duration of time, it worked for me. I don’t really believe in making over night changes as I feel they don’t truly work (for me) and you may end up relapsing – but you do what works for you. For the first 2-3 days after deleting the app, without even thinking about Instagram my thumb would be tapping the area of the screen where the app icon usually resides. Sounds strange right. This stopped after a few days and then I hardly thought about what was happening in the world of Insta.
What did I do with my time?
I had a long list of work stuff and house stuff that I wanted to get through. Did I get through the work stuff? Nope, possibly because it was Christmas and I was happy to wind down and pick the work up again in 2021. I did however enjoy lots of me time, and doing things I enjoyed. What was really enjoyable was being present in the task I was doing, or movie I was watching rather than constantly being distracted by notifications.
Did I miss it?
Not one bit. The people I wanted to keep in contact with and who wanted to keep in contact with me had my number or emailed me. All my followers knew I was taking a break and would be back. It was a break that I welcomed like a holiday.
How did I decide how long I should take off?
I just ran with it. Initially I had decided one week, but when the week was over I still didn’t feel ready to get back on. For me being on Instagram means content creation, posting and interacting. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE it, especially in a time when we aren’t able to see each other – its helped me create friendships with people I may never meet so I am thankful its carrying me and many others through this difficult time. However I like to be in control of it, rather than feeling that the app is controlling me (more of this explained in Social Dilemma.) So once I felt ready (3 weeks later) I reinstalled the app and didn’t feel overwhelmed by it. I also found that once I reinstalled I wasn’t aimlessly scrolling like I used to. The time spent on the app was intentional.
What happened whilst I was gone? Nothing really. Insta carried on as normal, I lost around 20-30 followers which really isn’t that much and I don’t mind. I rather have people engage in content that they enjoy. I was a little worried about getting hacked so I made sure I had switched my two-factor authentication on.
Going forward and for the rest of the year I want to make sure I’m posting content that will help someone, educate and is intentional rather than posting for engagement or followers. From the beginning I’ve only posted about products that I really like and have tried so this will remain the same.
Now please remember, Insta for me is a job, so this isn’t to shame anyone for spending time on the app or posting what they please. I found benefit in my social media break and wanted to share it incase anyone else was feeling the way I was at the end of the year.
I’m leaving you with a few tips which helped me and may help you get on with your journey. Do keep me posted on how you get on and all the best!
Remember it’s ok to take a break for yourself and your mental wellbeing.
Steps to follow before taking a social media break
Check screen time on your phone and also on the specific app you’re looking to spend less time on.
Set a limit on how long you are happy to spend on the app – I’ve set my Instagram to send me a reminder at 55 mins.
Unfollow any accounts that no longer serve you (did you know you can also mute accounts?) Have a feed that inspires you, lifts you up, educates you, and helps you keep in contact with your friends and family.
Stop sleeping with your phone – leave it to charge downstairs. If you don’t have a landline for emergencies only have one phone accessible in your room. We have my husband’s phone in our room on loud as he’s always been better disciplined with how long he spends.
If you can’t leave your phone downstairs – make sure its not the first thing you look at after waking up or the last thing you look at before sleeping.
Use a good old alarm clock.
Start having a social media break over the weekend – I never deleted the app but made a conscious effort not to open it and wait till Monday morning. – It meant I was present in tasks and also relaxing at the weekend.
Decide when you want to have a break and delete the app.
Make sure two factor authentication is turned on.
Don’t worry what you’re going to fill your time with – remember there was a time before smart phones.
Make a plan or don’t make a plan of things you’d like to do.
Delete and enjoy!
Re - install when you’re feeling refreshed and ready.
Let me know how you get on and if you do take a break, tag me in your post!