Over the last year and a half, I’ve done quite a few social media detoxes alongside the women in my Paleo Women Lifestyle Program, and I truly get more and more out of it each time.
The very first time I did a social media detox was just for a weekend, and I was definitely a little nervous. I’ve been using social media daily for years, and I have a special attachment to it because it’s part of my job. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. It’s complicated. More on that later.
Anyways, I think the first social media detox was the hardest for me, just because I hadn’t done it before. Was it going to tank my page? Was I going to miss out on something important? Am I going to come back to an overwhelming amount of messages that will just be more work for me to answer later on?
During that weekend, though, I felt the most peace I had felt in a long, long time. I couldn’t quite describe it, but it was something I wasn’t used to. It was very nice. For the first time in years, I left my apartment without my phone. I got twice as much work done than usual.
After that, I did more social media detoxes, for longer periods of time – up to a week. After that first break, I looked forward to social media detoxes so much. I craved that sense of peace. It was my version of going off the grid…retreating for a bit where no one could find me. I figured out that I could work on big projects most effectively while on a social media detox, because nothing was distracting me. I wrote an ebook during one social media detox, built my program during another, wrote a book during another. My creative capacity and overall productivity were off the charts. I felt a sense of freedom from accomplishing so much.
Then, last April I did a full technology detox, and it was absolutely life changing. I went away to another city, got an Airbnb by the beach, and didn’t use my laptop, phone, TV, or any other technology for a week. The prep to be able to take that full week off of technology almost seemed like more trouble than it was worth, but after that week I was so happy I did it. I am completely serious when I tell you that that week was probably the only week of my life I have ever felt 100% stress-free. I was more in tune with myself than ever before, and I went through more personal development in that week than most people do in years. I’ve never gone too in-depth about what happened that week, but it was much-needed.
Coming back from that week away was very difficult for me. It was a true escape from reality, and that experience made it undeniably obvious to me how much technology affects our physical health, our relationships, our mental state, our intuition, our productivity, our self-awareness. It made me realize how different today’s world is – I felt naked walking around without Google maps, without my phone, without listening to something through my headphones. It was interesting to simply explore and spend my time however I chose, by myself. Coming back from that week felt like going on the most epic vacation ever and then going home knowing you have school the next day. Not the best.
The more social media detoxes I did, the more excited I became for each one. I always look forward to them. I realized more things about my relationship with technology, and how my feelings around social media are different than other people’s. I realized how social media affects me differently not only because I use it for business, but also because I’m so sensitive to energy, and it can really be too much energetically sometimes. I’ve grappled with how I wanted to use it moving forward, because I see both the good and the bad.
My Love-Hate Relationship with Social Media
We have a complicated relationship. They say not to mix work with pleasure, and I see why. I love social media for many reasons. I found a community there when I felt like I had no one who understood me. I’ve met many of my closest friends through social media – friendships deeper than most relationships I’ve made offline. Because of social media, I’m able to connect with people from all over the world. Social media is the main way I advertise my blog posts, podcasts, program, ebooks, and services. It’s how I spread information, and keep people up to date on my life if they’re interested. It gave me a way to use my voice. It allowed me to be an entrepreneur. It’s how I get to know the people who follow along with my journey and stay up to date with them. Whenever I’m off social media, the only reason I want to go back on is to talk to the women in my program, see the podcast Facebook group, and talk to the people in my community on IG.
Social media is also how I receive information. I’m not only able to stay updated on what my friends and colleagues are doing, but also on current events in general. I am also able to learn from social media – there is so much amazing content out there that allows me to learn new things on a daily basis. I have a lot to thank social media for.
There are downsides, though. First of all, it’s a timesuck and a distraction. Even though there’s a lot of great content out there, there’s a lot of bad content, too. Sometimes there’s so much information that it’s overwhelming, and I feel paralysis by analysis. I’ve learned that seeing what other people in my field are doing ultimately just stunts my creativity. I also feel like my energy is completely unprotected. Social media is an open playground for anyone to say anything and send anything to anyone. It’s like thousands of people have your phone number and can text you, which is incredibly overwhelming. If no boundaries are drawn, it can grow out of control, yet it can be difficult to make your boundaries known when new people are joining in all the time. It doesn’t always feel like a safe space. I often feel energetically drained. It’s the positive people who interact on social media who make me want to keep going on.
I started to resent Instagram, because it’s a necessary part of business nowadays, but I also feel like it’s a total waste of my time. It’s made people too lazy to go to websites or read books – people will only read an Instagram caption. I spend so much time making Instagram content that it takes away from my ability to put out what I feel is my actual content. I would blog and / or podcast every single day if I didn’t have Instagram, and that would probably help far more people in the long run. And it would be far more fulfilling for my soul. So many of us spend a lot of time creating Instagram photos and writing long captions, only for 5% of our audience to see it, and for it to be lost the next day – not searchable and never coming back up again. But then, people don’t even really read captions anymore either! I’ll explain the recipe is on my blog in the caption, and people comment, “Where is this recipe?” Not sure how to win that one.
Beyond that, the community that was once there is not the same. I sometimes feel like I am holding onto past love for social media, clinging to an idealized version of the community I once knew. It honestly is like thinking about an ex – you remember the good times so you hope it will get there again. With the algorithm changes, hardly anyone even sees content anymore. It’s all just a game. And with so much information there, many people don’t seem to want to engage anyways. What used to be a thriving, communicative community now feels like radio silence many days. What used to feel like interest and support now often feels like competing and shady behavior.
Instagram, more than ever before, is often about looks and games. I am not into either of those. I also see so much of the same content over and over again, and I’ve grown uninterested in that.
How My Use of Social Media Has Changed
After the first social media detox I ever did, I immediately stopped being a scroller. I also unfollowed a lot of people, because I realized my feed was cluttered with content that wasn’t serving me. I got rid of anything that didn’t make me feel good, or really just anything that I didn’t feel like was elevating me / improving me as a person. I was following a lot of accounts just to be nice, or just because the photos were pretty, but it wasn’t really helping me in any way.
I used to be that person who watched everyone’s Instagram stories and got through my entire feed every day (I have no idea how I did that), but now I don’t scroll at all. After a few days of getting used to no scrolling, I realized how much of a waste of time it was to scroll through my feed – there are so many other more productive things I could be doing. I use social media to post, and the only other things I see are posts I’m tagged in, whatever posts are right underneath mine, and any comments on my page. Sometimes I watch a couple stories while I’m walking from my car to my apartment, but I can’t remember the last time I saw more than what 3-4 other people were doing in a day. I use social media to look specific people up if I’m researching for a podcast or interested in a certain topic, and I use it to interact with anyone who comments on my posts or follows me. I have a few friends I check up on, but most of my friendships are maintained outside of social media anyways, so I’m not learning much that’s new on there. Basically, I post and interact with the people in my direct community, and other than that I don’t have much idea what’s going on. The way I use social media now has nothing to do with other people – it’s what I’ve found works for my life and my mental health. I wish I could stay up to date on what everyone else is doing, but it’s just energetically too much for me.
Changes I Notice When I’m on a Social Media Detox
The last social media detox specifically really made me realize how different things are when I’m not using it. This was the first detox I did where I didn’t change anything else. On other social media detoxes, I also cut off email, or blogging, or podcasts, or a combination of those. Basically, I went off the grid in other ways too. This last time, though, I only went off social media. What happened was very interesting.
First of all, I had far less people contacting me overall. I received about 75% less emails and text messages throughout the day. This allowed me to accomplish many more tasks during my day. I think it’s very interesting that my overall communication went down just as a function of being off of Instagram and Facebook…probably because people weren’t reminded to reach out to me.
Overall, I was incredibly productive. I was able to do twice as much work as I usually do, for a few reasons. First of all, it saves me a lot of time when my overall communication goes down, because it does take an appreciable amount of time every day to respond to people. It also obviously saves me some time when I’m not posting to social media.
But the main reason why I was so productive was simply because I had such a clear head. I had so much brain space. I was so focused. I was able to do one task at a time. Knowing that I couldn’t go on social media was like a huge mental weight lifted off me. Since I knew I couldn’t go on at all, I never had to make any decisions around when to use it, what to post, or what to check.
I am the type of person who feels compelled to answer something immediately if I see I have a message. I can’t know that I have unread emails, unread texts, unanswered comments, and so on if I want to be able to focus. It’s just something about my personality – it’s hard for me to focus on a task when I know I have another to-do later on, so I’d rather just address it right then. That means my phone needs to be away and email needs to be closed during work if I want to get anything done. I get distracted very easily, and sometimes it’s so bad that simply seeing my phone makes my head spin about potential messages I’ll need to get back to, so I have to get it completely out of sight so I forget about the potential messages. This is clearly a personal problem, but it’s important I know this about myself! I need extended periods of completely uninterrupted time in order to be as productive as I want to be. That means uninterrupted by actual distractions like social media, yes, but even moreso – uninterrupted by my intruding thoughts! Those are my real problem.
I was much more present with myself. I’m not someone who has any problem getting off my phone when I’m with other people, or being present in the moment in general, but I do struggle with being present when I’m by myself, because I tend to feel like I need to be doing something that’s productive. I have to actively work on this and be aware of it every day.
Anyways, it was just a huge wave of relief for me to have less to-do’s and a hard rule that I could not check social media even if I wanted to, which allowed me to basically completely eliminate the thought from my brain and focus that mental space on other things. Hence, I was ridiculously productive.
I was also more productive because I was reinspired. When I see a lot of other content, my inspiration goes waaaay down. I am most inspired when I’m spending time alone thinking, meditating, or just out in the world living life. The more content I see, the harder it is for me to tune in with myself and feel that inspiration – information overload blocks me. Because I felt so inspired while off social media, I was able to get my work done much more quickly because it was flowing through me. I was able to plan things for the future, and come up with a lot of new ideas for content later on.
I was calmer and in a better mood. I immediately noticed how much calmer I was – specifically in the mornings and evenings. My mornings felt very nice and relaxing. I also didn’t feel rushed as I went from task to task, or from place to place. I usually use “travel time” to answer messages, and without that, everything just felt… chill.
I realized that a big part of why my brain often feels cluttered is because I wasn’t giving myself enough mental breaks. I feel rejuvenated after I take a break to go on a walk without my phone, but I feel just as stressed as I did initially if I “take a break” to go on a walk and answer comments, messages, and emails at the same time, or try to research something on my phone while walking. I am all about multi-tasking, but there is such a thing as too much. My brain needed more quiet. I had to actually give it a break, because every “break” I was giving myself before was just filled with something else – more chatter, answering someone else, more thoughts.
After the social media detox, multiple people told me that I “sounded great” and my “energy was totally different.” They asked what I was doing… and the only thing I could think of was that I had been off social media all week. Multiple people told me I seemed to be in an especially good mood. It doesn’t surprise me that social media affected me in that way. Even if I only follow people I consider to be positive and uplifting, there is a lot of negative energy on social media, and I am sensitive to it. I also think that having a more relaxed day to day, feeling like I was so productive, and having plenty of time for myself put me in a better mood naturally.
I also slept really hard. I had the best sleep of my life, and I don’t think it was a coincidence.
How do I feel about social media now?
I don’t dislike it, but I don’t necessarily like it. There are parts about it that I love. I love interacting with readers, posting to IG stories, and checking Facebook groups. Everything else… eh.
After the last social media detox, I realized that my daily priorities were not where they should be. My blog and podcast are my top priorities, and I would rather spend my time here than on social media. That means every day finishing what I need to do with my actual business instead of wasting so much time on an Instagram post that 10% of my audience will see and will be forgotten about tomorrow. I have so many posts I want to write on here for you, that I’ve wanted to write for so long, but I’ve been so distracted trying to keep up with all of the content creation on social media.I would rather this be my hub, and the people who are really in this community will hang out with me here. I realized I don’t need to be on IG every day if I don’t want to be there.
I love parts of IG, but it’s really lost the same feeling of community that it once had, with a large majority of that coming from the changes in the algorithm and how people see content. The thing is, though, that I can make sure anyone who comes to my website will see the content. It’s not hidden by an algorithm out of my control. I’ve been struggling for a long time with where to share what. It feels too spread out. I never know where to post my daily thoughts, my personal life, and all of the health and wellness education I love to share. People are on IG, but it’s also hidden there and inaccessible later on. Without the community feel, I don’t really feel that inspired to share as much as I do when I’m here in my corner of the Internet, with the people I know are actually engaged and not just scrolling for likes.
I don’t know exactly where I’m going from here, but I do know that I will continue to do social media detoxes as I feel fit, and I don’t feel compelled to post to IG anymore every single day just because I’m “supposed to” as a business. My inspiration and mental clarity are more important. My ability to serve you is what’s most important, though, and I believe people would get a lot more out of content here than on IG. I would rather shift to focusing on my content here and on my podcast, and putting out more resources that won’t get lost in a feed. I only have so much time in a day, so shifting my priorities is crucial so that I can help as many people as possible and stay motivated myself.
I highly recommend everyone does a social media detox, whether or not they feel like they use it too much, and whether or not they use it for business or for pleasure. You’ll probably learn a lot about yourself. If nothing else, your brain will get a nice break. If you feel like you “can’t,” you are exactly the person who needs to.
Have you done a social media detox? Share your experience below! I would also love to hear how you feel about Instagram and Facebook, and where you like to go to receive health and wellness information and keep up with your favorite bloggers!