As a mom of two small children who is self-isolating and trying to stay relaxed and calm amidst the global Coronavirus pandemic, I have been struggling with my relationship to social media.
On the one hand, it is a place to feel connected to those I cannot physically see or hug and is also full of some great resources for keeping kids busy and entertained while stuck at home. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it’s nice to distract myself from the grim reality of being permanently stuck at home with my littles. We all need a brain break from the realities around us now and then, and looking at inspiring posts, photos of friends, or silly cat videos is just what the doctor ordered.
I also find that, as an empath and motivational speaker & teacher, my main driving force is helping and inspiring others. The internet and social media offer amazing platforms and tools to do just that (especially during these crazy times).
On the other hand, there is a lot of fear in the world right now and a lot of people trying to take advantage of the chaos this virus has stirred up. While it’s important to stay informed and do your part to #flattenthecurve, the countless articles and posts out there can be very distracting and – like all social media – when not consumed in moderation can heighten the sense of disconnect from each other, your own intuition and feelings and the Divine guidance of your angels and departed loved ones that is constantly surrounding you.
Alongside that, there are other reasons you may be thinking of a social media detox:
- You feel a certain form of pressure to “measure up” to others (this is a big one for us moms);
- You are sensitive to the negativity and pain people spew onto others through judgement/trolling;
- You find yourself constantly opening your apps when bored or stressed;
- You are tired of being sold to, with advertisers honing in on your desires/likes;
- You find yourself constantly thinking of what to post, how many “likes” or friends/followers you have, or don’t feel like you can be authentic online, especially if you are struggling.
All of these reasons resonated with me at the end of 2019 and the idea of posting and checking apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram began to feel heavy and stressful to me. The amount of negativity and the idea (whether perceived or not) that I’m not good enough became a huge trigger of anxiety for me. I knew I needed a break. Flash forward three months later and a continuation of my social media detox seems like a natural step to keep me mentally healthy in this crazy time we are living in.
If you can relate and feel guided to take a break from social media (or even just set some boundaries around your use of it), here are a few tips to help you along, as well as some insight on how my 5 weeks completely logged off went (end of Dec 2019-Feb 2020).
*Please note: I embarked on this detox long before the Coronavirus became the pandemic it is today and find it more relevant than ever with the stress we all find ourselves under.
Tips for Detoxing From Social Media:
Tip #1: Decide on a Goal
Which apps feel draining to you? Where do you find yourself spending the most “mindless” time? How long do you want to detox for? Do you want to completely log off for a while, or just limit your time on social media to a certain amount each day?
Figure out what is reasonable to you and don’t be afraid to modify and change things. This process is meant to bring more relaxation and peace into your life, not more stress. Write down your goal and tell the people you care about. They can keep you accountable and can also keep you informed if you miss any big news while you’re detoxing (I had my husband let me know if friends had babies, got engaged, etc.).
I was determined to go at least one month without any social media apps, so I let my friends and followers know I was taking a break and then immediately deleted the apps from my phone. Which leads to tip #2:
Tip #2: Delete the Apps from Your Phone/Tablet & Log Off on Your Computer
Removing temptation is a big help when it comes to detoxing from social media. Even if you are just limiting your time, it is helpful to remove the temptation from your smartphone or browser bookmarks. We spend so much time on our phones and computers that having the apps still installed and the links just one click away is too convenient and almost addicting.
Like an alcoholic pouring out the booze or a dieter throwing out the chips, remove the apps and feel the temptation lessen.
Tip #3: Acknowledge and Feel the Discomfort
With your apps removed, you might not know what to do with yourself and/or the extra time you seem to have (depending on how much time you spent scrolling).
Notice what comes up.
Day one felt bizarre and likely will for you too. My inclination was to scroll my phone when bored and I wasn’t sure what to do with myself.
I wanted to be more present with my kids and not a “Phone Face” as we call it in our house. That awareness of just how often I used my phone as a distraction was definitely heightened in those first few days of my detox.
It was so weird, especially during down-time, to not check social media. What was I going to do with all that down time?
Tip #4: Watch Out for Other Distractions/Addictions
I use the word addiction here because many of us are dependent on the posts and “likes” and comments from others. The validation we receive from social media can be very uplifting.
Without it, where are you getting your “fix”? How are you feeling validated and loved? And what are you doing with the time you’d normally be online?
Like most moms, once my girls are in bed, my husband and I watch a show together or just relax, scroll our phones and try to decompress from the day. With my social media apps deleted from my phone, I noticed myself playing a game (on my phone) more often than not. Definitely replacing one “addiction” with another. I quickly caught myself and removed the game, cuing more discomfort.
If you are going to detox, notice what you fill your “social media-free” time with and make sure it is making you happier.
It took me a while (probably at least 2 weeks) to get comfortable with phone-free time, but once I did, the benefits began to bubble up.
The Benefits of Detoxing from Social Media:
With all social media apps uninstalled from your phone, you will likely find yourself checking your screen much less. When you do, there will often be no notifications (or much less than normal). As mentioned, this might be uncomfortable at first but after a while, should bring you more relaxation and peace. I noticed I wasn’t reading terrible articles before bed, or getting caught up in the drama of the world. I felt much more content with my life and all of the blessings in it, comparing myself with others less frequently. Checking my phone became less constant and I was able to feel more relaxed about notifications and let go of some of the immediacy of our technology-driven world.
With more time and space in my life, I was able to tune in to my mind, body and spirit in a very powerful way. I became acutely aware that my body and mind were detoxing too – more so from the expectations and demands I put on myself and the energies that I take on when scrolling social media. As a very sensitive soul, reading posts of friends and family – especially those who are struggling – can sometimes weigh on me. The break offered me the time and space to really release all that and focus on my needs and those of my immediate family. As a result, I received more clarity on ways I can live a happier and healthier life, including new ideas for parenting and for my business. One idea? Tape and share more meditations – get yours here.
I found myself feeling much more present when spending time with my kids and my husband. My attention was much more focused on them and we shared a lot of laughs and a lot more snuggles. They seemed much happier to have my full attention. I was also more present and focused when doing a task, not distracting by my ‘dinging’ phone or constantly worried about where it was so I could check it. Which leads to my next benefit:
Overall, my days were much more productive. I spent a lot of time with my kids and we did some crafts, had dance parties, played a lot of princesses, went for walks, and laughed more. I also stayed on top of chores and got a few projects done – some of which have been on my “to do” list for a month or more. I was inspired to write more of my fourth book and work on some blogs for this site. It felt good. Once I stopped distracting myself with other technology, I was able to really focus on how I wanted to spend that free time.
The last benefit came in better sleep. With nothing to look at before bed, if I needed to tire out my eyes, I read an e-book. Otherwise, I often just headed to bed and found myself getting more rest and feeling more energized during the day. “Better sleep” was one my main goals for 2020 and even since getting back online, I still have this rule – no phone in bed!
Going back online? Set Some Boundaries
After over a month off social media, I logged back online.
Upon reflection, I really needed the detox. My mind, body and spirit were extremely tired, craving rest and a much-needed break. With the demands of two young girls, I am so busy that I really enjoyed having more free time to relax and listen to what my soul truly needs.
I was nervous to log back on and honestly struggled a bit, finding myself falling back into old habits about 2-3 weeks after my detox. I began to set some boundaries and tried to limit my access to apps and then, Bam! Pandemonium! This virus pandemic hit and I found myself overwhelmed, anxious, yet trying to stay positive and helpful. I like to be informed and noticed I was checking all my apps for news and updates multiple times a day. It was not healthy, leaving me feeling helpless and stressed.
Have a Log In &/or Time Limit
In the past week, I have begun once more to limit my access to these apps. I try to log in to Facebook just once a day and have done the same with Twitter, trying to limit the time I spent on both apps to a total of 20 minutes maximum. The danger with apps like these (and other ones like Reddit) is the ‘hole’ you can fall into when starting to read something or looking into a hashtag or the comments section. So, with a time limit I am more choosy with what I read and the links I click.
Keep the Apps off Your Phone
It may be helpful to keep the apps off your phone and simply check in via a web browser or a computer. This keeps the temptation away and might be the only way some of you can keep your boundaries strong when returning online.
Detox Your Friends/Follows List
This is a BIG one that everyone should do, if nothing else. Sometimes the reason we feel we need a social media detox is because we have people we follow, friends or family members who are posting and sharing things that stress us out. Be sure you un-follow negative people and fill your feed with positivity and support.
Celebrate All the Good Social Media Offers
This is also a big one. Especially in crazy times like this, social media can bring us together (to a certain degree). Think of all the reasons you love social media and then use it to spread love and deepen your connections with the people that matter most in your life. Use it to learn more and expand your awareness and perceptions. There are a lot of amazing things out there in the world wide web and if you have strong boundaries and an awareness of your relationship with your devices and profiles, you can enjoy exploring and using these apps to feel seen, heard and motivated on your journey as a magical mama.