Social media dominates our world. No doubt you have heard or maybe experienced some of its adverse impacts. While it can serve a good, useful purpose there are hundreds of scholarly articles about the impact of social media on mental health.
I had known for a while that my social media usage contributed to my anxieties, from the constant comparison to the scary news articles. I would tell myself that I scroll and browse to relax or pass the time. But the truth is social media was anything but relaxing for me. Thanks to that handy screen-time setting on my phone I knew just how much time I was spending looking at specific apps a day, and I wasn’t proud. My phone was always near.
One day, I watched my daughter play with a pretend phone. She used her finger to “scroll” and she even insisted on bringing it to the table with her for snack time. As we were playing that day, I’ll admit I wasn’t fully present with her and she said something to me that was like a dagger in my heart.
She said, ‘Mama, put your phone down.’ Ouch. I wanted and needed to do something about it. Not just for her but for me too. That’s why I decided to give it up.
My Social Media Fast
For 40 days I quit cold turkey. No Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or Pinterest. Nothing.
I am here to tell you it was life-changing. And I am not exaggerating. While I took a break from social media I used that time to do something that truly filled my cup, something to help me to reflect and learn.
For me, I took a spiritual approach to this fast. I used the book The 40-Day Social Media Fast by Wendy Speake. I wanted to be able to come back with a better perspective and boundaries. This book helped me do that. Through those 40 days, I realized social media is meant to be a resource to enhance my life, not consume it. Before this fast, I was using social media as a form of escape. In reality, it wasn’t helping me cope or deal with the stressors in my life.
Every time I opened those apps, I was closing myself off to those around me. When I truly stepped back from the overwhelming clutter of social media over those 40 days, it helped bring peace to my heart. This truly flowed over into all aspects. I was a happier mom and wife.
I have come back to social media, but not in the same way. Now I have boundaries. This time away helped me realize the boundaries I place around my online world will help protect my real-life world and these boundaries don’t bind or limit me but actually free me. So now I am choosing when to be online, un-following people and posts that cause me stress, and making sure my “news feed” really feeds me. And when it doesn’t, I stop.
If this thought has ever occurred to you, to step back and take a break, I cannot recommend it enough. Do it. And really commit. Maybe it won’t be spiritual for you but it could be. Use that time you’re away to pour into yourself, to reflect, and really think. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.