So for the month of May I decided to challenge myself. I wanted to quit social media for 30 DAYS to see if it would help improve or benefit me in any way.
At first I was really hesitant to do this challenge just because of how active everyone is on social media. I mean in today’s world if your not engaging in technology then it is impossible to live. Or so it seemed.
Honestly I felt like I was gonna miss out on a bunch of stuff. Like people’s pictures from their vacations, or someone having a baby, or another person’s graduation pictures etc. Although, what I found was that I had not missed out on anything, but rather gained some real benefits along the way.
There was five major things that stood out to me during this challenge.
1. INCREASED FOCUS
Whether you are aware of it or not, almost everyone in the modern world has become a master at distracting their self. If its not Netflix, its a junk food binge. If not instagram for hours, its Snapchat. If not weed, its alcohol. The list goes on.
The point is, if you really audit yourself and take a hard look on the things you do on a daily basis you will realize how much you truly distract yourself. For me one of the reasons I really wanted to do this challenge was because I discovered SHOCKING stats on how much I was using my phone. Apparently I was on my phone (almost all social media) for an average of 5-6 hours a day! I’m sure some people are worse and some are better. Although, for me and my well-being I knew I had to change.
So before the challenge I would find my self anticipating a notification from my phone a lot. I was essentially not present at all, but rather the total opposite. Also, when I was trying to do a task (like write this blog) I would work for five to ten minutes and then have to check my phone. It was a definite compulsion. Without any sort of focus, tasks would take an eternity and sometimes I just wouldn’t finish. Very unproductive!
Towards the end of the thirty days is when I noticed the change. Without this anticipation or compulsion to check my phone I became deeply focused on the task at hand. Whether it was work on the computer, exercising, or simply talking to somebody, the feeling was there. It was an intense feeling of focus that I had not felt in a long time and that scary part was that I didn’t even notice. I got more work done and simply enjoyed what I was doing. Whatever it was.
From then on I have limited activity on social media to an hour a day. My suggestion is that if you notice yourself having a hard time focusing then figure out what is distracting you the most. Getting that thing under control could be like removing a foggy cloud in your head.
2. REDUCED ANXIETY
This ties in with number one.
I have always had a problem with anxiety. Nothing major that I couldn’t handle, but definitely noticeable. One thing about me is that I tend to be anxious about things that pertain to my self-image. And I am sure many others are the same. Social media is the apparently the ultimate judge for one’s self image nowadays.
For me, before the challenge I would get anxious every time I wanted post on social media. Is this good content? Do I look good enough? What if it doesn’t get that many likes or views? These thoughts were like a refrigerator humming in the back of my mind. In addition, I would get triggered over the littlest things. I knew these thoughts were really vain, but didn’t realize how much they were affecting me. Anticipating a notification or compulsively checking my phone was making me anxious and irritable.
Around the fifteen day mark is when I started to notice that I was actually more calm and non-reactive to the petty things in life (like getting stuck in traffic). Getting rid of the anticipation and compulsion was like unlocking the chains I had out on my mind. It was a sense of freedom which in turn gave me calmness and a present state.
My suggestion would be to test it out for yourself. Social media makes us unrealistically compare ourself and this can make us stressed and anxious for no reason.
3. AWARENESS OF BAD PATTERNS
This one was the most important for me.
Because I was always distracting my self with social media and reacting to everyday pettiness, I became unconscious of how I was living. My habits and thought patterns were slowing me down so much and I didn’t even realize it.
Before the challenge, when I woke up the first thing I would do was roll over and check my phone. I would try to see who texted or messaged me with my eyes not even fully opened yet. This was one of the worst things I could do because it set me up for a very reactive day instead of an active one. This one bad habit would cascade into more bad habits such as not making my bed, not exercising, not eating breakfast, not doing my best at my job, and many others. Without even noticing, I was living a life with little gratitude or self-respect.
In addition, I noticed what my attitude towards life was. It was dull and resentful in a sense. It was like I had forgot to look around and realize how blessed I really was. Essentially, I was rolling out of bed and dragging myself through the day only to repeat it again in the morning. Sadly, I couldn’t even notice this because I was so used to numbing and distracting myself to this truth.
Around the three week mark I started to gain more awareness. Realizations and intuitive thoughts started to come up in my mind. It was as if they were suffocating in my head, drowned out by all of the trash I was consuming through my phone. This experience taught me how to always audit and check up on myself and to never let myself get into a unproductive cycle.
My suggestion would be to really watch yourself. Pay attention to your thoughts, habits, and behaviors. Are they uplifting you or sabotaging you?
4. BETTER SLEEP
I didn’t think this one was a problem for me but I guess I was wrong.
Before the challenge my sleep routine would go like this. I would hop into bed around eleven and turn on my reading lamp. Then I would get on my phone and start scouring instagram unknowingly for an hour. Or sometimes watch random YouTube videos until I fell asleep. Before I knew it I was going to sleep past midnight, cutting my sleep time for no real reason. Essentially I would sleep while on my phone (again distracting myself). This wasn’t really a problem until I noticed I would Start to wake up in the middle of the night for no reason. Some nights multiple times. As you can imagine I was under slept and becoming unproductive in the daytime.
Because of doing this challenge I indirectly changed my sleep routine. Now I was off my phone for at least an hour before bed and didn’t need to a light in my face while trying to sleep. This led to a fuller nights sleep with almost no interruptions. There were days I only got five to six hours of sleep and was really energized throughout the whole day. It was a really nice benefit that went under the radar for me.
For me I believe it was the light from the phone that was messing with my body clock and sleep hormones. This might be a problem for you too. If you sleep with your phone and tablet I suggest leaving your technology for at least an hour before bed. Test this out and see if it helps.
5. MORE TIME
This one can seem the most obvious, but I think it is also the most overlooked.
Like I stated before, my phone stats were showing that I was on social media for an average five hours a day and I didn’t even notice. Because I value my time so much (my highest priority) I knew I had to cut that down asap. By eliminating phone time I unlocked so much time for myself and things that could benefit me and my goals. This gave me more time to write, exercise, listen to audiobooks, spend time on my business, and much more.
In addition, a subtle change I felt was that the day felt much longer to me. Like a fuller day. I believe this was due to being in a more present state of mind. Whether it was a trick of the mind or not it definitely felt better realizing how much more time in a day I had.
Please don’t underestimate how much time you might be wasting on social media. I understand we have to be on these platforms in this digital era for our business or personal reasons. My suggestion would be to just check in on yourself. Are you consuming more than you are producing? Your time is literally your most important asset. Use it wisely.
For me, it really helped me take a step back and audit myself. I learned a lot about my bad patterns and habits. This awareness undoubtedly helped me improve myself.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to get rid of social media from our life. We use it for everything and everybody uses it. For this reason I have limited my use to an hour to two hours a day. I get all of my content done and engage sparingly throughout my day.
I now prioritize my overall health and time much more, practice focusing more, and really pay attention to my thoughts.
I would definitely recommend anybody to do this challenge. I’m sure most people will not be able to completely get rid of social media from their life (I couldn’t), but at least you can tweak your lifestyle a bit to help achieve your goals. If anything, I believe it will make you more aware of yourself and help you improve. What’re you waiting on, try it out!
“Be better today than you were yesterday”