Towards the end of November/into December I had a bit of a rough ride with my mental health. This culminated with me pretty much completely drained after 2 weeks of almost constant socialising and general people-ing. I’m an absolute homebody and very much need my quiet downtime to recharge!
I did the usual end of year reflection and tried to pinpoint if there were any specific triggers that were making me feel worse. I kept coming back to social media. I’ve mentioned on here before my love/hate relationship with it but by December it was definitely straying into the unhealthy territory.
After a lot of deliberation, and a serious wake-up call from my phone’s screen time update, I decided that I needed a complete social media detox. At one point I was using my phone for up to 5 hours on my days off, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Turns out that old saying is true: comparison really is the thief of joy. The more time I spent looking at the highlights reel of other people’s lives, the worse that I felt. Yet I didn’t seem to be able to stop myself. It’s something I’ve blogged about before more than once!
The coming New Year gave me the final kick up the arse that I needed to do something about it. I didn’t want to enter another year feeling awful so on December 31st I deleted all social media apps from my phone and iPad.
Day 1 wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had been expecting. (The hangover probably helped me not wanting to look at a screen!) I spent the day curled on the sofa reading and watching trashy TV and didn’t miss stalking the lives of others at all. There was one moment during an ad break when I picked up my phone without thinking and opened up the folder where the Instagram app had once lived before I truly realised what I was doing. Slightly worrying that it had become so much of an autopilot for me.
Day 2 was a real eye opener. Without social media apps to procrastinate on in bed, before I dragged myself out, I turned to YouTube. Now I very rarely watch vlogs at all and I’d certainly never watched any of the big YouTubers’ stuff. They’ve never held any appeal for me. That is, until that morning. I woke up, Jonny had left for work and I had an hour and a half to kill before I needed to be leaving. I spent an hour watching vlogs. AN HOUR. I even fell down a Zoella rabbit hole. I had never watched a Zoella blog in my life prior to then. I casually checked my screen time app and was honestly disgusted that I’d wasted that much time. And it was wasted. I gained nothing from it other than a feeling of disappointment that I’d not managed to instantly have a more productive morning routine. I deleted the YouTube app in order to avoid this happening the following morning.
Days 3 and 4 were easier; I had high hopes that I’d be more productive with the removal of the apps that my scrolling had transferred to and it did work. I was starting to spend less time on my phone but I still missed stalking the lives of others.
The weekend was far easier – we were away in London so had plenty of lovely distractions (including the incredible Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play!) A friend we met with did mention that she’d tried to find our how long we were in London for so had looked on my Instagram, only to find no posts which made me think I maybe need to live my life more rather than just posting about it on social media!
Now I’m a week in and I’m honestly not missing it as much as I thought I would, it’s by no means easy but I do feel like I’m having a more productive January than I would have done otherwise. I’ve read 3 books already and had a massive wardrobe clear out!
Have you ever tried a social media ban/detox? If so, how did you find it helped or what do you do to minimise your screen time? I’d love any ideas to help if/when I do feel ready to reinstall the apps.