Why I Took a Break from Social Media & How It Improved My Life

Let’s talk about addiction.

What is it? The American Society of Addiction Medicine says it is “a disease that affects the brain’s reward, motivation and memory functions.” Some general warning signs would include constantly being drawn to “it,” ignoring areas of life because of it, ignoring risk factors or turning a blind eye to consequences, neglecting relationships and other responsibilities because of it, and the list goes on. Many people are healthy enough to identify the issue or behavior and do something about it, but other times, healthy and otherwise people allow addictions to subtly creep into their life. Once that happens, they are quick to justify reasons for continuing it. The interesting thing is that whether it is alcohol, drugs, a person, an item, or an action, most people are unaware that they have an addiction.
With all of that being said, who doesn’t have an addiction of some sort? Or who has never had an unhealthy behavior that could have turned into an addiction? Common addictions can be food, a toxic relationship, alcohol, drugs, TV, coffee, literally ANYTHING.

What are over 50% of our peers commonly addicted to right now?
Social media.

About one month ago, I started to notice unhealthy habits. I was checking my phone unnecessarily, mindlessly scrolling while in the company of others, using my free time for mindless consumption, concerning myself with postings instead of enjoying the present moment, and wasting energy on surface level relationships rather than the real ones that deserve more.

Obviously I was not happy at the habits I had allowed to form. So I took a week off from all social media to slap myself in the face.
I was able to sit with the discomfort.
Of the many things that I learned, or realized, during the past 3 weeks is that social media can become very toxic, and when I stepped back from it, it was disturbing to see how many people around me were clearly balls deep in their own social media addiction.

Is social media all bad then? No way. By simply taking one week off, I was able to change my behavior and better use my accounts in a healthy and balanced way. My primary reason for sharing this, is the same as it is for sharing almost everything else, and that is the fact that I truly think vulnerability is a powerful strength. Vulnerability makes us human and allows for genuine connections with people who help, uplift and inspire us.

So here are 3 reasons why YOU should consider a social media break:

  1.    Your relationships will flourish. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that relationships are everything. Social media friends and those random people who comment on your photos with the heart eyes emoji’s won’t be there for you when you’re down. Ever notice how the friendships from childhood or years ago (before Instagram and Snapchat) were so much stronger? Giving your full attention to the people you’re with should be a given, but in this day and age, it shows the other person how much you really value them and allows the relationship to grow organically.
  2.    You’ll prioritize your mental health. Social media triggers those of us who deal with issues such as Anxiety, Body Dysmorphia, eating disorders, Depression, low self-esteem, and so on. There’s no denying it. Social media opens the door for all sorts of negativity to creep into our thoughts and emotions. That’s not the intention, and it seems harmless, but take more time away from concerning yourself with scrolling through other people’s lives and trying to make yours up to par, and you’ll feel the difference. Take pictures and edit them for yourself and/or your family and friends, not to immediately post and await the next stream of likes and comments for validation.
  3.    Your creativity will be sparked. We’re constantly opening our social media-while waiting in lines, in doctor’s appointments, during breaks, while walking and driving, and even with others. When we chose to enjoy the moment, sit with our emotions and let our minds wander, we open up the door for creativity to flow in. Social media and telephones have caused us to rapidly decrease in creativity. This is scary because it is scientifically proven.

If these 3 reasons haven’t convinced you, then either you don’t need to or you REALLY need to. :p

Following your social media break, you can establish ground rules that will keep your usage in check.

Apple developed a new “screen time” feature that I have been using. I set my phone to limit my screen time from the hours 5pm-9am. If I click on one of the apps that I feel don’t add value to my life in any way during those times, then it’ll remind me that I shouldn’t be on them. Then if I chose to hit “ignore” it’s a conscious decision.

How to set your screen time: Settings -> Screen time -> Down time or App Limits

Remember that social media can be a healthy and positive tool/resource when used the right way. Personally, I use it to follow my friends and family (being long distance with 90% of my relationships can be sucky), promote my blog, and learn or be inspired. As with anything in life, too much of a good thing is bad.

Practicing discipline, working on creating healthy habits and a balanced life are the major keys.

Thanks for reading!

Xx, Sami

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