5 Ways Deactivating Social Media Helped Me
Although, social media can be an excellent tool in connecting those over long distances, promoting a cause or in marketing a business — we should be mindful of how we utilize it and the impact of daily use. I am in no way blaming social media for any stress or challenges that I have experienced however, I do recognize that in setting a limit — I realized the following:
1.) My sense of awareness amplified. When you’re “connected” through social media, the temptation to open the app or website is there. Whether it’s taking a few minutes to see what someone is up to, who is traveling where, who is eating what, what new product is being advertised, inspirational quotes that may or may not be applicable to your life — you find yourself absorbed into the world of social media. Before you know it, your attention is robbed from general productivity and redirected elsewhere. You are connected to a virtual world, yet completely disconnected from your own. I’m a believer that happiness is found in “little moments” and details that make up the bigger moments. So, how can I appreciate those details if I’m giving in to feeling distracted, frustrated, anxious and fixated on why those “bigger moments” aren’t happening? During my lunch breaks at work, I would walk around the block to the local coffee shop, engrossed in reading a political debate someone was having through a post or liking baby pictures. Now, I throw my cell phone in my purse and take a true “mindfulness walk”, noticing how good the sun feels, breathing in fresh air, and how grateful I feel to have a break from my hectic work day.
2.) I engaged in problem solving more in the moment instead of putting it off. Naturally with stress, most of us don’t want to confront it. When faced with conflict, a lot of the time our first reflex is to put it off or deal with it later. I found this to be the case where I would exhale in frustration then pick up my phone and mindlessly scroll through my feed. Social media feeds are constantly being updated however, the effect is similar to opening your fridge when you’re hungry but not knowing what you’re hungry for. You hope there will be something new and exciting to eat but only see the milk, eggs, and butter that’s been there from when you last opened up the fridge… about 5 minutes ago. The reality of it was that I didn’t feel any different or better after scrolling through my feed and repeating it a few minutes later. When I took away this distraction, I started engaging in problem solving more frequently instead of closing my office door and distracting myself from dealing with the issue at hand. Sure, not every conflict or problem will have a solution within minutes however, I felt more alert in taking steps to resolve an issue that I could control in the moment.
3.) My anxiety levels went down. My anxiety was most noticeable in the mornings when I would get up and feel overwhelmed with notifications or would spend a few minutes scrolling. Time would tick by and before I knew it, I would be rushing through my morning to get ready and out the door! Equally, social media didn’t help before bed-time either. So, instead of remaining in bed on my phone in the morning for an indefinite amount of time, I would immediately get up to start my routine— and I would take my time. This helped me set the tone for my day rather than arriving to work frazzled and frustrated because of rushing — I felt more put together and calmer. Plus, I got to enjoy my freshly brewed coffee in the morning. :)
4.) I maintained my connections the old fashioned and healthier way. Social media has the option to list birthdays and even important events in people’s lives allowing users to turn it into a flagged event on a feed for everyone to see. Although this can be beneficial in some ways, at the same time I felt this to be an impersonal way to maintain friendships. A wedding, engagement, graduating college, the birth of a baby, or a birthday is an important event that merits a direct acknowledgment outside of a mere comment. Although some users like this and feel that the annual check-in is enough to sustain their connection — I didn’t feel it was conducive for my social life nor did I want to be treated that way either. Eliminating social media enabled me to connect and maintain my relationships with others by being present— and showing up for them with my support in person. I wanted to be there for my friends, rooting for them, becoming a part of their important life event if I could, rather than sitting behind a screen congratulating them.
5.) I stopped comparing my life to everyone else’s. No doubt many of us have fallen victim at one point to the social media effect where we feel our feed is littered with positive, happy, successful posts and nothing else. So, when someone only posts the “happy moments”, we fall into the “must be nice” mindset instantly recognizing our own shortcomings. If we are already stressed, anxious or depressed you can only imagine what kind of damage that can cause to our perception. It’s not that some of us necessarily become envious or that we are not proud of our friends, we just build up standards in our minds and fiercely compare and contrast our lives to others when exposed to a consistent theme. Then we brood over and over again. The reality of it is that there is always more to the story behind a post or an event on social media but we don’t get to see that process because social media is one-dimensional. Challenges are just as much a part of the process as success is when achieving our goals. Unless that person indicates, “I went to many job interviews and was rejected from every single one until I finally found this great job… here I am!” or “I’m drowning in debt paying for this wedding and new house and my fiance and I are fighting every day… here we are!”, it’s not taken into consideration that challenges exist when all we see is the outcome. Instead, what we see is a picture of a couple beaming in front of their newly purchased home and that “perfect jobs” are capable of falling into the laps of everyone else, except our own.