May was a mess. It was not particularly set off by anything specific, but I felt my mood continuing to sink lower and lower. I would reach for my phone out of boredom and outside of work I was not being very productive in my personal life. All motivation was out the window. Something needed to be adjusted. Besides the usual “try to eat more consistently, get enough sleep, drink my water,” I decided to try deleting my social media for the month of June. It seemed like the best thing as social media has been such a heated place recently and taking care of myself and my mental health will always take priority. If I am not healthy, I cannot be a contributor to society. It was a very spur the moment decision and it just so happened to be the end of the month so it made it an easier concrete goal.
The first few days were the most difficult as I realized just how much I reach for my phone when I have a spare moment. The moment I wake up as I am slowly getting ready in the morning, while eating, while walking, etc. Any spare moment that was not dedicated to a specific task I felt myself reaching for the phone. Reaching for the phone and realizing I had nothing to look at was an eye opener at how much my phone is present in my life. I began to carry the phone less and have less anxiety if I left it somewhere. Slowly I started to adjust to the “quiet.” I would be able to sit in the morning with my coffee and notebook and just be. I could just sit and enjoy looking out the window at the birds and trees. Time slowed down in the best way. Mindfulness became attainable again.
My relationships improved. I would use my phone to actually call and talk to people. I would be a lot more engaged in conversations with my spouse. Not rushing through a conversation but taking the time to listen and learn. I could feel the quality of time growing and there wasn’t this added distraction pulling at me. My relationship with myself improved. I was forced to sit with uncomfortable feelings or at least be proactive about doing something else to distract myself instead of burying my feelings in an Instagram feed. I would have to go for a walk, write, work out, play with my dogs, make a meal.
My productivity increased. Instead of getting lost for 30 plus minutes on Twitter I could clean my closet or do a small task here or there I had been putting off. I feel it really helped the rumination calm down a bit. Instead of getting stuck with what to do and sitting with my phone while I went around and around in my head I was able to make a short to do list and just keep going with it when I found myself lost.
The cons? I did miss interacting with family and friends through photos and updates. During this isolation there were times that it really sank in how alone we have been and how difficult that is. I am an introvert by nature, but I appreciate the interaction even virtually while I am limited on travel. I also missed the friends that always lifted my day or posted positive things that I could take with me throughout my day. It made me realize I need to be more intentional with the people I do follow and now that I have returned, I have been going through and analyzing my platforms.
I suggest everyone take time off social media to evaluate the significance it plays in your life. I learned it is best to step away every now and then, especially when it is starting to promote negative behaviors or amplify rumination. I also recognized that social media is a platform to interact with people and I would like to do more than “lurk” and endlessly scroll. I am making more of an effort to interact and it is helping me realize the things I need to delete or move on from that aren’t conducive to the environment I want to cultivate on my social media platforms. Now that the month is over, I have been more mindful about the need to have my phone around and I still make that time in the morning without it to enjoy the quiet. Even if a month seems impossible, try a day once a week without it and allow yourself to get a bit uncomfortable.