Thirty days ago, Mary casually silenced her Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds. It wasn't a resolution or protest. In fact, it wasn't even that intentional. In an effort to create visual space on her iPhone for apps that supported her new year's resolutions, she resigned the social media ones to a folder on the second page. Once out of sight, they were out of mind. A few abstinent days went by, then a few more... as time went on, opening the Wall Street Journal instead of Instagram or TedTalks instead of Twitter became more habit than correction. It didn't take long before she realized how good it felt to replace the "nervous twitch" of checking social media with productive, intentional activities.
Social media is an incredible way to connect, share and engage. We won't be giving it up and certainly aren't suggesting you should. But it's worth thinking about how much time, energy and emotion it steals in mini intervals throughout the day... and adjusting your habits accordingly to ensure engaging in social media is enjoyable and useful. What toll does mindlessly scrolling through photos of someone else's life take on your own? You won't really know until you take a hiatus and reflect on the results. Here are three reasons why you should give it a try and how to do so.
Have you ever logged in for a quick peek, only to realize many minutes later that you've been totally sucked in? The average young adult (under age 32) uses social media in excess of an hour a day and checks his or her accounts more than 30 times per week (source). We'd argue (since studies have been focused on youth, we can't prove it) that adults aren't far behind. What else could you be doing for that hour? What if you simply cut that time in half? We found we had more time for screen-less activities like reading, playing with the dogs, exercising (and napping) and more. Reclaim your day!
You may have read recently that studies show social media use may be linked to depression (source). Social media provides a window into others' lives, which subconsciously drives us to compare and contrast our own. Feelings of jealousy can be as detrimental as feelings of judgement and, over time, self doubt will creep in from both directions. Pay close attention to the emotions you experience as you scroll through your feed. If it's not bringing you joy, shut it down.
If you're sitting inside while scrolling, holding the phone six inches from your face... your social media use is likely taking a toll on your physical health. Vitamin D deficiencies, eye fatigue, weight gain and thumb/hand issues have all been linked to cell phone usage. Give your eyes and thumbs a break, get moving, and get outside!
HOW TO TAKE A BREAK
- Remove the temptation. If you primarily access social media on your phone, move the app icons to a less conspicuous location like the second page or within a folder. On your computer, remove the bookmarked links. If that doesn't do it, delete them! You can always add them again at a later date. Logging out of each account will help, as well. If it's not quick and easy to access your feeds, you'll have more time to think about your action and correct the behavior.
- Replace the activity. Try downloading other apps in their place to fill little pockets of downtime throughout your day. We love Elevate and TedTalks, in particular.
- Engage in other ways. If ditching social media makes you feel disconnected from family and friends, remember how we communicated in the "old days." Pick up the phone, send a text, or better yet: make plans to see one another in real life! There is likely much more to be shared and catch up on than a quick snapshot and one-liner post.
- Take baby steps. You don't have to commit to a week, a month or a year. Even one day per week would build self-awareness and make a difference... be warned: living without social media is as addictive as living with it.
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