Like basically everyone else in the Western world, I was addicted to social media. While there are some upsides to apps like Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, I knew spending so much time on them wasn’t healthy for me so I limited myself to 30 minutes a day. Best decision ever.
I was glued to my phone 24/7. Every day, I found myself aimlessly scrolling through social media for hours, even when I had things to do. I suffered from the “refresh syndrome,” constantly refreshing my social media feeds in search of new posts. One day, I read about an app that tracks your phone usage and downloaded it out of curiosity. My one-week-results showed that I spent an average of nine hours per day on my iPhone, 86% of which was social media. I was spending the equivalent of a 40 hour work week, plus some, on my phone, and I couldn’t tell you one thing I accomplished. After seeing my results, I realized something needed to change.
I had to physically hide my phone from myself. If I was at work, my phone was in a drawer, locked away from temptation. If I was at home, it was kept far out of reach in another room. In the beginning, I honestly thought there was no way I’d be able to do it, but after a few days, I surprisingly began to feel relieved. It felt good knowing I couldn’t be contacted every second of the day. I was able to focus better and ultimately be way more productive. I felt disconnected from the world but in the best way.
I began to feel out of the loop with current events, but I was OK with that. Often times, we get so wrapped up in celebrity gossip or the latest trending topic that we lose track of what really matters. If something was important enough, I would hear about it through word of mouth. If it never made it to my ears, it was irrelevant. That’s not to say I didn’t pay attention to world news or anything, but all the other extraneous crap fell away.
I felt less pressure to fit in. The more I stayed away from social media, the less I cared about my online persona. Social media has a tendency of making us self-conscious. We constantly come across perfect women with the perfect lives full of endless amounts of happiness. Although this is probably just for show, it still gives us the illusion that these women are better and our lives sucks. When I eliminated these posts from my daily life, I felt more like my self and less like the social norm.
This may sound cliché, but I began to discover myself. In the social media world, you are what you post. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we like to display unrealistic versions of ourselves in hopes of gaining acceptance among our followers. Once I deleted social media out of the equation, I began to realize there’s far more to me than meets the eye. I began to pick up on my different likes and interests. I re-discovered my passion for writing and explored my creative side. Without social media, my mind began to open up and I felt more connected to my soul.
I made changes to my daily routine, starting with bedtime. Every night, I would lay in bed and scroll through my social media feeds. Before I knew it, an hour had passed and I was still wide awake. Sound familiar? Science has actually proven that the display light on your phone mimics sunlight, tricking your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Phones now offer a “night mode” to lower the brightness, but that’s still not good enough. Staring at my phone at night not only kept me awake longer, it messed with the quality of my sleep—something which improved when I stepped away from social media.
The hardest cycle to break was within my morning routine. Starting from the moment I woke up, I would snooze my alarm a few times, finally come alive enough to check all of my notifications, and then scroll through social media like the daily newspaper. This entire cycle was happening before I even got out of bed. I created a new rule and forced myself to abide by it: no phone until at least an hour after wake up. This allowed me to start my day off with a clear mind and focus on my own energy before anyone else’s.
I started occupying my free time with brain-engaging activities. I filled my mind with knowledge rather than mindless crap. Whenever I felt the urge to hop on my phone, I picked up a book instead. Reading allows your mind to wander and explore different thoughts. In doing so, I became aware of new interests and allowed time to challenge new ideas. Not only did my mood improve but my motivation increased as well. I was more productive and more inclined to use my time wisely.
I became a lot more mindful of my surroundings. Have you ever been so deep in your Instagram feed that you completely neglected to hear someone calling your name? Social media can be so attention-grabbing that we fail to realize what’s happening in real time. Restricting my usage allowed me to be active in the present and more attentive to the people around me. I began to enjoy the scenery during car rides, engage in face-to-face conversation, and embrace the beauty of life around me. My relationships improved and my personality even began to blossom.
Within a few short days, I noticed a positive change in my mood and energy. I put a set limit of 30 minutes on social media per day, but most days I wouldn’t even reach 10. I felt less reliant on others’ opinions and more mindful of my present being. Changes in my daily routine helped me to feel more refreshed in the morning and more calm at night. I discovered more personal interests and offered more time to explore my likes. Focusing on myself dramatically increased my mood and preserved my own energy, making me feel more alive than ever. I became a better friend, daughter, employee, and overall human. I love social media but it had to go (well, mostly).
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