Initially I thought this challenge was going to be incredibly difficult – especially during a lockdown – purely because of how often I use social media. Albeit as a habit more so than for anything productive but its still something that plays a part in my everyday life.
Now, I’m not saying it was really easy, but it was definitely easier than I anticipated. The first five days I made sure I kept myself busy, I had previously thought of tasks that I could set myself for this week and they certainly came in handy. Despite the tasks being seen as pretty mundane such as organising the airing cupboard, they are actually things I use as a strategy for when I’m anxious. They keep my mind focused on something that has an end goal and a way to feel accomplished in some way. Despite not feeling anxious at all during the week, it was a good tool to use for a distraction.
On one of the week days I had work which occupied me for the majority of the day and because I can’t have access to my phone aside from during allocated breaks, it meant it wasn’t really on my mind. I certainly spent a lot less time on my phone in general during those first five days and I benefited from that kind of screen break.
The last two days of the detox I found a lot harder, I’m putting this down to not keeping myself occupied – I’d lost motivation by this point and was feeling tired and unproductive. A lot of time was spent on Netflix or YouTube but I definitely noticed the want to go on certain social media accounts. But I still didn’t give in!
In terms of whether this has had a positive or negative impact on me, I’m still somewhat unsure on. I guess maybe its been both but not in a massive way. Positively, I now know that when I think I don’t have time to do stuff, I’m kidding myself because so much time is wasted scrolling through social media and I’ve proven to myself how much more I can get done. Negatively, it certainly made me feel more isolated – I still messaged my friends and family, but I’m so used to being able to see what people are up to and follow their lives through social media. During this lockdown that’s been really helpful to me because I feel like I can still keep up with everyone I care about and share photos/videos of things that we’d normally be experiencing together. I’m also very mindful of what/who I follow on social media – I choose to follow people who inspire me, who make me laugh, who make me feel better about myself. I’ve made the mistake in the past to continue to follow people that I know in real life, even though the things they post affect me negatively. Over the last year I made a conscious choice to unfollow people if things they posted made me feel bad. That’s no offence to those people personally but as I’ve become more aware of my emotions and triggers, especially in regards to Ben, I’ve also learnt that I’m responsible for the things I watch and read. If that means choosing to not watch the news, or not read posts from people who aren’t uplifting me, then so be it. My mental health is always my priority and I would never apologise for making choices to ensure that I keep a healthy mindset.
Overall, I have noticed that since regaining control over my social media accounts, I’m not using them as much as I used to but I’m also feeling glad to have the access back. If watching funny instagram stories or sharing uplifting articles is what makes you feel happy, I’m all for it but I can now also recognise how to find more of a balance in regards to scrolling – I now ask myself: do I actually give a toss about what I’m reading or am I just incredibly bored? If its the latter then I do something about it and that’s definitely been a good lesson to learn.