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The Surprising Benefits of My 3-Month Social Media Detox

close up of a woman's hands holding a mobile phone

Towards the end of Feb 2024, I was spending up to 6 hours a day on Instagram it was making me miserable but I could not stop - until I had no choice.

I realised my health was being impacted by the constant emotional whiplash of witnessing horrific atrocities in places such as Gaza, Yemen and Sudan alongside recipe reels, cat videos and small business offerings - everything became too much and it felt toxic.

I felt unable to modify my behaviour by reducing how much social media I consumed because of its addictive nature and my spicy brain, so I went for an all-out detox approach and deleted the apps from my phone.

Here's what I learned in the 3 months since breaking free of my toxic social media habit.

It's easier than you think

Deciding to delete the apps from my phone was the hardest part. Once I did, a wave of relief washed over me. It turns out, that the anticipation was worse than the reality and I felt an immediate sense of freedom from being unshackled from those demanding little apps.

I missed it less than I thought I would

Most days, I hardly thought about what was happening on Instagram or what I might be missing. The constant noise and pressure to stay updated faded into the background, and it was surprisingly peaceful. Sure, there were a few times I felt out of the loop and wondered what was going on and I'd pick up my phone for a quick peep - and soon remember why I left in the first place after a quick scroll.

My screen time reduced less that I expected

While I wasn't scrolling through feeds and watching endless stories, I still found myself picking up my phone to play games, practice Italian on Duolingo, or listen to podcasts and audiobooks during my social media detox. It’s debatable whether this is better or worse as I still feel the need to have my phone close at hand all the time, but now at least my screen time is more intentional and purposeful.

I notice how much other people spend on social media - and its a lot.

Seeing others glued to their screens, doom scrolling out of habit, highlighted just how pervasive social media has become. It was a stark contrast to my new reality, and I realised how much of a time suck it can be. Time and Attention are two of our most valuable commodities and we have been duped into giving control of them to our phones.

A young white woman stands in front of the sea wearing a black jumper She has her hands covering her eyes

Sometimes it feels like we are slowly becoming a world of phone zombies, sleepwalking through life on autopilot whilst it unravels around us and that disconnect terrifies me.

I felt cut off from the world

Without Instagram, my main news source vanished. I don’t watch the news, listen to commercial radio, or use news apps, so I felt disconnected from what was happening beyond my little bubble. I know there have been significant events, like the ongoing atrocities in Gaza, Yemen, and Sudan, and I carry guilt for turning away from these realities—a privilege not everyone has.

This is perhaps the main reason I'm considering ways I can come back to Instagram in the future because we cannot look away from the wrongs of the world simply for our own comfort.

two young, smiling women lay on a bed of flowers they are covering each others eyes

I returned to "old" ways to keep in touch

Without social media, I lost one of the main ways to keep in touch with my dearest pals and fellow biz owners and I turned to face-to-face meet-ups, Zoom co-working calls, and WhatsApp chats to stay connected.

The benefit was these interactions felt more intentional and meaningful and whilst I missed the quick exchanges of reels and memes (especially the cat videos), the quality of my communication improved.

Business is possible without social media

One of the things that worried me about walking away from my social media accounts was the impact it would have on the visibility of my business - after all, a big part of my week was creating content. The risk felt worth it, even just as an experiment and in fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

Even without an active social media account, my email list grew, and I enjoyed running Connection Circles and my Dark Moon Club Membership. This break proved that social media isn’t the be-all and end-all for business success and you don't need to be a content creating machine to be successful.

Details of the Connection Circles for late diagnosed neurodivergent women

Living life beyond consumable moments

I used to view every moment through the lens of potential Instagram captions and likes - snapping pics of food before taking a bite; capturing my morning walk on video for a later reel and missing out on that in the moment joy.

Without this constant pressure, I began to enjoy moments for what they truly are, not as content to be packaged and shared. Life felt richer and more authentic without being commodified.

Seeking balance in the future

Moving forward, I’d love to be free of social media entirely (and live in a seaside cottage with lots of pets and time to have long walks). However, I recognise its value when used with intention and purpose. I’m considering how to change my relationship with social media to find a healthier balance, although my all-or-nothing spicy brain might be a challenge - I'm up for giving it a go.

In conclusion, my social media break was an eye-opening experience. It taught me about the importance of intentional living and staying connected in meaningful ways. As I consider how to reintegrate social media into my life, I aim to do so with purpose and balance, ensuring it serves me rather than the other way around.

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