Have you considered quitting social media cold turkey?
You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but there are many compelling reasons to limit your social media usage. At the very least, you want to be very conscious of how you’re using it.
Remember when social media exploded onto the digital scene? I was in my mid to late teens at the time. I quickly realized the addictive nature of social media platforms, but opened several accounts to keep up with the times. I was also curious to see what it was like from a psychological perspective through direct experience.
Of all the platforms I used, I distinctly remember Instagram causing me a significant amount of stress and anxiety. I caught myself obsessing over the number of ‘likes’ and how I could catch up with my competition, even though I had initially told myself that I was only going to use the platform “for fun.” My feelings were validated years later by reports singling out Instagram as being the worst social media network for mental health and wellbeing.
In the past few years, I’ve weaned myself off social media and am much more intentional about how and when I use it — and for what purpose.
Here are five benefits I have experienced as a result of a social media detox.
1. Greater Self-Awareness
While I did not quit Facebook overnight, I noticed how I felt better when I limited my usage of the platform. That self-awareness alone brought me a genuine peace and relaxation that I rarely had as an active social media user.
Social media has often been described as a highlight reel where people only post about the most picture-perfect and best things about their lives. While competition can sometimes be healthy, I didn’t find my usage to be fulfilling most of the time on a personal level.
That level of self-awareness transferred to other areas of life too, because it helped me become more cognizant of how time is a limited and precious resource. It helped me to understand that I had a choice as to how I wanted to spend my time.
2. An Increase in Time and Productivity
Cal Newport talks about the sudden stretches of free time that get generated when we embark on digital minimalism.
“I’m so bored!” is a constant refrain some individuals make when they can’t find something interesting on their phone or TV screen to be entertained by.
I suppose I’m blessed in that sense as I’ve rarely felt bored with restricted digital screen time.
To make use of time in a productive way is the antithesis to boredom.
What are some of your hobbies? Gardening? Cooking? Walking?
These activities are much more vital than social media scrolling to while away the time. For example, cooking a healthy meal ensures that you’re choosing to nourish your body with quality ingredients, and walking helps you to stay fit. A healthy body and mind help to support a healthy life.
3. Better Ability to Focus
I don’t own a smartphone at the moment, and I haven’t downloaded any social media apps onto my iPad.
This keeps my digital notifications (or interruptions) to a minimum.
Focus is something that you need if you want to concentrate and perform quality work.
Being intentional with my social media usage helps me to avoid distractions that take away from tasks I’ve set my mind to. Instead of feeling frazzled, I’m usually able to allocate a specific amount of time to complete each task successfully.
4. Improved Self-Esteem and Sense of Perspective
Curating my feed was a big part of my digital minimalism. I deleted, muted, or unfollowed any posts that weren’t uplifting or inspiring. This made a drastic difference in my social media feed as it now shows me content from companies or individuals I actually find motivational. Content that doesn’t mean much to me simply fades into the background.
When I wasn’t fully conscious of how I was using social media, it was all too easy to slip into momentary bouts of anxiety due to comparisons I’d make of my life with other people. A peak moment was realizing how our self-esteem could literally be affected based on the number of ‘likes’ we were receiving digitally.
Nowadays, I’m more aware of how social media distorts reality if people are only sharing the picture perfect moments of their lives online.
It helps me to re-focus on competing with myself instead of others, which is a lot healthier and more constructive in the long run.
5. Reclaiming Your Sense of Self
Spending less time on social media exponentially increases my quality of life.
It seems like a simple enough notion — to define life based on what matters to me. The trouble is that it can become a trickier process when I get caught up in things that don’t truly nourish my sense of self on a deeper level.
Cutting down on my social media usage enabled me to revive hobbies such as journal writing, blogging, and sketching. None of which rely on digital likes which could be here today and gone tomorrow.
There is nothing social about a platform when it has a more negative than positive effect on your health and well-being.
If you find yourself in a negative spiral quite frequently because of social media, I hope you try reducing your usage. It’s worth the taste of freedom you’ll get from reclaiming your life.
About the Author: Jess Chua is a creative and analytical introvert. She writes and edits content for the Optimal Living Daily podcast, which regularly features content from No Sidebar.