'Waking Up' from a Social Media deep sleepFeb 11, 2021
With all the drama leading up to the US election, the siege on the US Capitol and 24/7 coronavirus news, I found myself in a pretty dark place a month ago. My eyes were glued to my phone, my computer and the TV and I found myself waking up several times a night to grab my phone and see what was happening.
I couldn't stop refreshing the screens of the 10 tabs I had open checking the various media outlets. I devoured news as soon as it broke and followed the live blogs and updates relentlessly.
Put simply, I was addicted to social media.
Outside of social media, I was a mess! I stopped exercising, I was jumpy, tearful, depressed and anxious. One morning, as I walked to get a morning coffee with my husband, I found myself saying to him, "I know this is a terrible thing to say, but I just can't see the point of anything anymore."
I needed a social media detox.
Social media addiction is a real thing.
It has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, proving it can lead to depression, feelings of inadequacy and destroy your attention span. Psychologists have even created a Social Media Disorder Scale; which is a 9-question survey designed to distinguish healthy and unhealthy social media use.
During the past year, have you ...
1) …regularly found that you can't think of anything else but the moment that you will be able to use social media again?
2) …regularly felt dissatisfied because you wanted to spend more time on social media?
3) …often felt bad when you could not use social media?
4) …tried to spend less time on social media, but failed?
5) …regularly neglected other activities (e.g. hobbies, sport) because you wanted to use social media?
6) …regularly had arguments with others because of your social media use?
7) …regularly lied to your parents or friends about the amount of time you spend on social media?
8) …often used social media to escape from negative feelings?
9) …had serious conflict with your parents, brother(s) or sister(s) because of your social media use?
If you answered "yes" to five or more of these items, you meet the criteria for a formal diagnosis of a "disordered social media user."
Social Media Detox Tips
I realised I needed to take a step back, disconnect from social media and connect with real life once again.
For some, removing themselves from social media is an option (and a great one!). Past users who have decided to delete their accounts have reported feeling immediate relief from tension and anxiety.
But for a lot of us (including myself), simply deleting your account isn't an option for a few reasons, the most important of which is Chicks Who Ride Bikes. Without a personal FB account, I can't have a CWRB facebook page (bummer) - and that's how we connect with our followers and share what we're doing!
What I CAN (and did) do, however, is a few things to get back on top of my sanity:
- Ask myself the following simple question... over and over if I have to: why am I online right now? If it's to check and answer emails, cool. If it's to write up or edit a blog, great! When I was in "the slump", I wouldn't have been able to give myself a good reason to this question, except for 'I want to find out what's going on!'. The reality is, there are lots of methods to find out what's going on, and no reason at all to be refreshing screens a hundred times (exception alert: unless you're trying to get tickets to a Pink concert!).
- Delete the Facebook app from your phone. I might not be able to completely cancel my account, but that doesn't mean I need to let it run my life so easily... By deleting the app (and LOGGING OUT after each use), I forced myself to actually need to log in on my laptop to check things, instead of mindlessly scrolling.
- Replace the app with something new and productive. I replaced the Facebook app icon from my phone with Blinkist. Everytime I had the urge to check Facebook (which, at first, was about 8-10 times a day!) I would open up Blinkist and read. In the first week alone, I went through 18 books... ironically most of them were about productivity and how to stay motivated while working from home.
- Turn off push notifications. It does not only save your battery life, it also saves you from a lot of distractions. Push notifications - especially in banner form - are the absolute antithesis of productivity. Not only do they break your concentration on whatever you are working on, they create a false sense of urgency about your to-do list, making you feel overwhelmed when, in fact, nothing has changed.
- Disconnect Facebook messenger and disabled many push notifications from your Apple Watch (or smart watch). For the same reasons as above, except multiply the urgency and distractions piece by 200%. Don't want to complete disable push notifications? Turn it on Do Not DIsturb mode while you're trying to accomplish something specific, and feel the stress melt away...
Waking Up from a Deep Sleep
I honestly can't describe how much better the last few weeks have been for me after putting these tips into practice. Am I suddenly a super zen monk-like figure with no problems and no stress? Of course not. Can I get through the day without feeling like I want to tear my hair out? Yes.
Disconnecting from social media a little, for me at least, has felt like awakening from a deep sleep. The false world of social media isn't unlike a dream, with a veil of something that just isn't quite real life.
If you feel like social media has taken over your life, if it preoccupies your mind, or if you find yourself constantly and habitually reaching for your phone, these might be signs that it’s time for a break.
Check out some of our meditations for a bit of inspiration if you need some chill time!