One of my resolutions for 2017 was to drastically limit the amount of time I spent on social media, especially because, only recently, I discovered how toxic it often was for my mental and emotional state.
Well, with very few slip-ups, I’ve managed to stick with my social media plan–
Facebook for 10 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays,
Instagram for 10 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday (or on the days I blog), and my
Bloglovin’ blog roll feed on Saturday (although I’ve extended this to include Friday night as well).
(Note: I haven’t tried to set limits on my Goodreads or Pinterest time because I don’t spend all that much time usually on either of those platforms.)
And here’s what I’ve learned so far:
1. Mentally and emotionally, I don’t miss being on social media more AT ALL.
In fact, there have been a couple of the days I’ve been tempted not to get on for even the ten minutes. I thought I would feel very out of the loop by not taking the time to scroll through all my Facebook and Instagram feeds when I did get on for those few minutes, but I haven’t felt anything of the sort. In fact, I’ve felt a profound sense of calm that I haven’t felt probably since July, when I unintentionally took a 72-hour social media break when we were on vacation in Island Park.
All this has just proved (again) to me that constant overload of everyone else’s emotions, thoughts, political opinions, and to-dos is just overwhelming to me.
2. What’s been hard about cutting down on social media hasn’t been what I’ve missed out on—what’s been hard has just been cutting out the habit itself.
The first week or so that I was on my new schedule, I would open the laptop and be all poised to push enter after typing in one of my social media URLs at the top, only to realize (almost a second too late) what I’d done without even thinking about it.
The actual physical habit of constantly getting into my feeds had been so ingrained in me that I quickly discovered I was going to have to replace it with something else–and pronto–if I didn’t want to be accidentally breaking my resolution every other hour.
So I started replacing the habit with other things—
I started turning the laptop off and putting it away more often.
I started keeping books by the computer to remind me to read instead.
I put my to-do list front and center in front of the keyboard to remind me of what I really wanted to be doing this week.
When I did get on the computer (much less often than before), I started studying French. Yes, FRENCH.
It’s only been a couple weeks, but I’ve already noticed that I’m much more present in the current moment than I was before. This wasn’t something that I was intentionally striving for, but because I had to train myself out of my bad habits, I gradually had to become more mindful as well of what I was doing.
That mindfulness has meant that when I watch a t.v. show with Matt or the (rare) movie by myself in the afternoon when Raven is napping, I actually sit down on the couch and focus on it instead of opening up a computer screen at the same time.
It’s meant that I’ve been more likely to chop up the vegetables for dinner in the quiet of my own thoughts or against the backdrop of quiet music instead of the blare of a t.v. show or movie in the background (just to fill the silence).
It’s always so fascinating to me how new habits can come with completely unforeseen consequences.
3. I was wasting even more time before on social media than I thought I was.
It took me a long time to realize I had a social media addiction, and it was one of those things I shrugged off admitting for a long time because I was ashamed of it. I mean, it’s not like I had a smartphone that I was glued to every two seconds, so I must not have a problem…right?
Well, it was only when I cut down that I realized how much time I was really spending before on it.
In the 16 days I’ve been on my new plan, I have:
– Finished 3 books (and will finish two more in the next day or so)
– Easily kept up on all the dishes (something that always seemed inordinately difficult before)
– Started doing family history and genealogy again, something I haven’t touched in a couple years, really (and I’ve already discovered a name on Matt’s line, an astounding feat since there are about a billion people working on his line, it seems…)
– Felt more spiritually in tune than I have in a long time (which has been helped along by the fact that I’m reading my scriptures and other church materials much more frequently and deeply than I was before)
– Exercised 3 or more times a week again
– Started learning French (something I’ve said I’ve wanted to do for ages but never “gotten around to”)
– Listed almost all of the items from our latest storage shed auction that are at our apartment
– Typed up more than 40 pages of my second mission journal (I finished the first a few years ago when I’d set it as a goal to type up all of them for one of my resolutions that year)
And even having done all this, I’ve still found time to do the things I normally do (like blog and play with Raven), as well as found time to just veg out and do nothing (like watch a movie).
It’s seriously like I’ve gained about 2-3 hours a day from this one change in my habits, and it’s amazing.
4. I’m most likely to want to break my resolution when I’m lonely or bored, so I have to find ways around those two things to stay on track.
When I’m bored now, I do one of the things I’ve mentioned above, or I bundle Raven up and we leave the house for awhile.
When I’m lonely, I’ve made myself start texting or calling people rather than scrolling through what those people are doing on social media.
It sounds so stupid, but I didn’t realize before how much I was trying to use social media before to fill a void. I feel so fortunate to be able to stay at home with Raven, but it can definitely be lonely at times (and not always too exciting, especially when we’re stuck inside due to weather for long periods of time). So, when I finally realized that, I was able to do other things that would actually legitimately help me with those things, rather than just distract me from what the real issue was.
Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed to write all this out and admit it to people. I’ve always thought of myself as a motivated, driven, hardworking person, so it’s been a bit humbling to realize how much time I’d truly been wasting on my social media addiction (not to mention the reasons I was doing so).
But I’m feeling much calmer and more in tune with my own thoughts than I have in years, and I’m excited to see what kinds of self-revelations come to me over the course of this year as I try and keep this up.
Have you ever tried cutting down on your social media? What differences did you notice?