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Social Media Detox: A Vacation for the Mind

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Shared your latest travel photo on Instagram? Check. Posted a random moment on snapchat? Check. Complained about the traffic on Facebook? Check.

We all do these. Some of us do it more frequently than others. Some of us lurk behind the screen, simply staying up to date on what everyone else is doing. What’s the harm, right?

After realizing that I spend way too much time on social media, I decided to go cold turkey for a week. I deleted all social media apps from all my devices and here is what happened:

The first two days were great. I felt confident, free, and more productive now that I couldn’t distract myself every half an hour with facebook or instagram.

But by the third day I started craving information. What is everybody doing when I’m not checking my newsfeed? Who went where? Who liked who’s photo? What am I missing out on?

After the first attack ended without any harm done, I felt calmer again. I realized that all the people that I “see” on a daily basis on social media networks are people that I rarely see or talk to in real life. The illusion of my social circle became apparent, which felt pretty good. I didn’t have to care about my high school friend’s PhD dissertation or that my friend from summer camp had a baby or that my childhood friend went to Dubai for her bachelorette party. These people, whom I only see when I bump into them on the street, are not really part of my life and I don’t need to spend any energy, thought, or time on what is happening in their lives. What a relief.

More importantly, I was left by myself and the only interactions I had were real ones with people that I actually talk to or see. All of a sudden, I didn’t have loads of information about other people’s lives, which meant there was less to compare myself to. I could be happy, grateful, peaceful about my life and what I was experiencing. I didn’t need to compare myself and feel inadequate.

That being said, by the end of the week, I was feeling very curious, wanting very badly to just log in for a minute to see what had happened. I almost caved it during my last evening.

I was surprised to find that when I woke up on the eighth morning (when the detox was over) and I was free to log in to whichever social network I wanted to, I didn’t want to.

I realized that putting on music instead of checking facebook was a much better ritual to start my day, that flipping though a magazine in the bathroom (which I apparently hadn’t done in a very long time because bathroom time means stalking time) was actually something that I missed doing, that looking around at my surroundings felt better than staring at my phone when waiting for the bus or sitting alone in a café. But most importantly I realized that I felt better when I didn’t spend my time comparing my life to others’.

I stopped asking myself if I am smart enough, pretty enough, happy enough, crafty enough, successful enough, fun enough, peaceful enough, actively doing pilates enough, traveling enough, eating amazing food enough, taking great photos enough, liked enough, shared enough, social enough.

In fact, when I did a bit of research, I found that many studies concluded that people who are addicted to social media often experience feelings of anxiety and inadequacy because these platforms push us to compare ourselves to others.

Why should I choose to feel bad when I can choose to feel good?

So when my detox was over, I didn’t reload the apps on my phone. I do allow myself to check social media on a daily basis, but I do it carefully and with discipline, which means that it’s not the first and last thing I do in a day and I don’t do it incessantly. I choose to use social media in a positive way – to keep in touch with people in my wider circle of friends and acquaintances and be up to date on events happening in my area.

Why don’t you give it a try and see what changes in your life?

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