By Laura Lynch
It’s no big secret that we have all become phone, screen and social media addicts. It seems we are rarely present in the moment these days, as we always feel the need to capture all the big (and small) events in our lives, on our phones. Whether it’s at a concert, at the gym, on holiday, or even just at the dinner table… why is it so hard for us to put our phones away for a few hours?
This addiction to our phones and the online world was certainly something I had become accustomed to over the past five or so years, and it puzzled me, why was I so hooked to my phone?
What good was this constant scrolling, checking for notifications and need to keep up with the Kardashians' daily lives actually bringing to my life?
After discovering a video online, about a girl who quit social media for one month, I decided to challenge myself and try to do the same. I deleted all social media apps from my phone (Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook).
The first week was WEIRD. I was finding myself feeling quite bored at little gaps throughout the day, such as on my commute.
While everyone else was staring at their phones, I had nothing to look at. I wondered if I might be missing out on some big celebrity news that may have come out online. I kept going to click into apps on my phone, even though they weren’t there anymore.
The second week was NICE. I was already noticing lots of positive changes at this point, in myself and in my life and I found it was easier to continue the detox from this point on.
The first month came and passed and I never even for a second considered going back online at that point. I had come so far, I was enjoying the freedom and my new outlook too much to go back.
Five months later, I was still offline and living a completely new, happier life. I felt different, it was like a weight had been lifted and I was so motivated to share my story. I was finally beginning to understand the importance of self-care and started seeing everything in a new light.
Here are the important things I noticed during my Social Media Detox:
During the first two weeks of my social-media-free life, I noticed just how often I glanced down at my phone, without even thinking, and it was staggering.
I was sleeping much better and for longer – the less grumpy and less stressed version of me began to appear.
My anxiety reduced by 90 percent - this was by far the most significant change I noticed and loved about this whole experiment.
JOMO – the joy of missing out has actually become a thing. It was lovely just doing my own thing and not knowing, or worrying about what everyone else was up to. When I wanted to hang out with my friends, I just messaged or called them, and this worked perfectly. I didn’t have a fear of missing out on anything (FOMO), which is something I worried I would experience, before the detox.
I just stopped caring about the crazy things we do for social media, like taking photos of our food whenever we go out to eat and sending it to everyone.
I didn’t feel any pressure to get that perfect Instagram photo or Snapchat story everywhere I went. I went to an outdoor concert and felt there was no pressure on me now to look perfect and get lots of amazing photos to post online. I felt I enjoyed the whole experience much more than I would have in the past.
I read books on my commute instead of staring aimlessly at influencers or celebrities, who I once compared myself to not realising how toxic these comparisons were.
I felt like there were more hours in the day and there was. I was amazed by how much more free time I had when I took social media out of my life.
I genuinely felt happier, more confident and less stressed out.
After my detox, I did return to the online world, but in a totally different way. I felt it was really important to share my story with others and encourage people to try this Social Media Detox Challenge for themselves and see the impact it could have on their lives. I decided to start writing my thoughts and ideas down. This led to me starting up my own blog on Mental Health & Wellness, called ondayslikethis.com.
I have returned to Instagram and Facebook but don’t have the apps on my phone anymore as I feel that constant scrolling throughout the day can be toxic for our mental health and body image. I have created a new Instagram page called ondayslikethisblog, where I share only motivating posts, news and information about my blog.
I have also only chosen to follow pages that uplift and inspire me and this most definitely makes a huge difference.
I never returned to Snapchat and still don’t miss it, which is crazy as this is the app I would have used the most before my detox.
With all the above said, I would encourage everyone to detox from social media for a few weeks. I promise you will definitely notice so many nice changes in your life.