How a Social Media Fast Changed My Life
Social media is significant in helping us connect to others we wouldn’t otherwise be connected to. It creates life-changing opportunities. It provides the space for online communities and Facebook groups where people can share life stories, experiences and gain support.
We can agree these are all great things. However, there are also drawbacks to using social media. With all the access to self-help content, blogs, videos, articles and much more, it can be easy to disconnect from ourselves, it can give us a false sense of fulfillment, it can increase feelings of jealousy or insecurities triggered by comparisons to others and increase fear of missing out (aka FOMO). Most of us scroll through our social media accounts various times throughout the day, while waiting in line, sitting on the toilet, stopped at a red light (etc.). There is no judgment about this as I too, am guilty of this.
There’s a plethora of great information out there that is useful to our self-development, but are we reading it without actually letting it sink in? Is it really having an effect on us or are we now obsessed with ‘”liking” or “loving” everything we see as soon as it is posted? Are we being intentional with our time spent online, and the time spent in the real world and with our loved ones?
These are questions I asked myself after realizing that logging onto Facebook often made me anxious as I mindlessly scrolled through my newsfeed and some FB groups I belong to. Although I was experiencing some anxiety related to my social media accounts, I kept getting sucked into checking it more than I’d like to admit, mostly due to the fear of missing out on something important. I began to experience social media burnout due to the constant checking of my Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Social media burnout can happen to anyone and it works like burnout from any employment.
As a clinical social worker, I am quite aware of the effects of burnout and recognized burnout is what I was experiencing in terms of my social media use.
Some of the symptoms of burnout include:
a decrease in empathy for others,
lack of engagement in previously enjoyed activities or responsibilities,
and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and shortness of breath
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms as it relates to using social media? Once I realized I was burnt out from social media, it motivated me take action.
I talked to my husband Robert who is the one person I know who does not spend mindless time looking through social media, and with his help, I decided to practice a social media weekend fast (Benefits of Social Media Fast). The challenge was to stay away from social media for an entire weekend. At first, the idea of fasting for a whole weekend seemed impossible, but with his support, I committed and succeeded.
What I found out during that weekend has transformed my life! Now I am practicing a social media weekend fast every weekend.
Some of the wonderful things that happened to me during that first weekend of disconnecting from social media include:
- A significant decrease in anxiety due to not constantly checking my social media accounts.
- Improvements in conversations with loved ones and friends thanks to being fully present in my interactions.
- Emergence of a more satisfying mindfulness/meditation practice that has positively influenced other parts of my life.
Because I wasn’t obsessed with checking my social media feeds, I had time to do things that matter and brought me joy. I was able to re-engage in activities and hobbies I put off. Most importantly, I was able to reconnect more deeply with my loved ones, my environment, and myself. This was worth it for me.
Disconnecting from social media requires a commitment to becoming aware of its effects on our lives. If you identified with any of the signs of social media burnout, perhaps becoming more intentional with your social media use will be helpful to you. I want to challenge you to attempt a social media fast and observe its effects on your life.
It is truly a challenge to disconnect from social media and connect to your loved ones, your environment and yourself. Below are some suggestions on how to succeed with a social media weekend fast:
- Determine the length of time chosen to disconnect from social media. Make sure this is realistic to your needs.
- Ask a loved one to change your passwords on your accounts, or delete the apps from your phone.
- Install extensions to temporarily block the amount of time you spend on social media. You can find some here.
- Commit to following through with this challenge to reap its benefits.
Invite others to join you. It is often easier to complete challenges with the support of others.
You might have a similar experience to mine and might even find that completing this challenge improves your intentions when using social media.
While this worked for me, I am aware that for some people, social media can serve as an escape from the stresses of their life, it serves as a community to gain support, or a place to educate yourself.
Regardless the reason we use social media, it’s okay to ask yourself some of the questions mentioned above as it relates to your social media use, practice being intentional with your social media use, and perhaps begin disconnecting from social media once in a while to connect with yourself and others.
I learned that sometimes to reconnect to ourselves we don’t need to hear someone else’s motivating post, but we should simply sit still, disconnect from technology, and spend time listening to our own inner voice. After all, everything we are seeking is already living within us waiting to be discovered.
If you need any support with this challenge, you can find me here. I would love to hear from you!