This month, I made the daunting decision to disconnect from the digital world for one whole week.
Since the pandemic hit, my daily screen time has only increased. What was once a 5-minute break to watch TikTok has turned into 4 and a half hours of mindlessly scrolling and switching between apps every day.
My social media addiction hasn’t just impacted my productivity but has impacted my mental health, too. Between anxiously awaiting a new notification to feelings of unworthiness after viewing someone else’s highlight reel, I knew I needed to take a step back.
The rules are simple; for one week, I logged-out of and deleted all my social media apps. The platforms that were off-limits included:
I even avoided YouTube in an attempt to stay disconnected from what was trending online. All this was to accomplish my goal of reclaiming 4 and a half hours of my day back.
Day one: Reality hits
Tuesday morning, I crawled my way out of bed and instinctively grabbed my phone, only to see a blank lock screen. Most mornings, I spend the first 15 minutes checking up on notifications and watching Chris Klemens’ videos.
Instead, I grumpily rolled out of bed and got ready for my day with some throwback tunes to lighten up my mood.
After returning from my doctor’s appointment, boredom struck. What I thought would turn into productivity instead turned into staring at my wall for an hour and eventually falling asleep.
Day one was a stunning realization of just how much time I have to waste in a day.
Day two: Learning self-compassion
Following the lack-lustre day behind me, I woke up feeling liberated. Sure, day one wasn’t the transformative first day I thought it would be, but it gave me the chance to check in with myself.
So, instead of beating myself up over how little I felt I accomplished on day one, I started to celebrate what I did accomplish on day two. Simple tasks such as getting dressed, doing laundry, or brushing my teeth turned into small victories.
On day two, I stopped trying to live up to someone else’s highlight reel and begun living my day for me.
Days three and four: Productivity!
Thursday and Friday, I found the motivation I had been anticipating all week to plan out my calendar, finish up assignments, and catch up with emails.
Surprisingly, this sudden surge of productivity came naturally. I think this is due to a combination of self-compassion and becoming comfortable without social media.
That’s not to say I didn’t struggle to work without social media breaks. Every so often, I’d grab my phone and browse old photos or texts in an attempt to procrastinate and mindlessly scroll once again.
But I soon grew tired of my own content and begun hanging out in my kitchen as a way to take a break. On days three and four, I ate a lot of granola bars.
Days five and six: The weekend
Weekends that were once filled with binging and cringing at 5-minute craft videos evolved into a weekend filled with self-care.
I spent Saturday reading, dancing (badly) to Taylor Swift’s 2021 version of “Love Story,” and started journaling again. Sunday, I completed the not-so-glamorous self-care activities, like taking out the garbage and cleaning litterboxes.
Although I felt disconnected from distant friends who I’d chat with in-passing—either on Instagram or Snapchat—I felt super connected to my closest friends, and most importantly, myself.
On days five and six, I learned the power of slowing down and felt recharged because of it.
Day seven: Reflection
The final day of my week-long social media detox was upon me.
On one hand, I was eager to jump back onto my feed and catch up on the latest memes. On the other hand, I was fearful of undoing a lot of the positive progress I made over the course of the week.
I’ve grown up on social media. Platforms that once began as a fun way to document middle-school memories and bad eyebrows have now become toxic environments—and oftentimes, we don’t even notice.
This week, I lived my life without comparing myself to others. Rather than allowing likes and influencers to determine what’s worthy, I became the judge of my worthiness.
Going into the weeks following this detox, that freedom and empowerment wasn’t something I wanted to lose.
My relationship with social media today
Social media isn’t all bad. But if there’s one thing I learned this week, is that we all need a break from it every once in a while.
I’ll still jump on TikTok during class breaks to have a laugh, but I’m not wasting my evenings away on it. I love Instagram, but now I’ve updated who I’m following to better support my mental health and body image.
It’s important—especially in these isolating times—to connect, laugh, and learn from one another; social media allows us to do this. However, as we become increasingly reliant on our feeds for connection, let’s not lose our offline selves in the process.
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