It doesn’t take long to find detox suggestions for health reasons. Restoring and resetting our health makes sense and is a good thing. Why not extend the detox or reset to other areas of life like a social media detox or a digital detox? What do we have to lose? Or better yet, what can we possibly gain?
What if those very things about social media that are important to us need less of us or a different us in order to get the best of us?
Detoxes and resets both take and give things in return. They can apply to numerous areas of life. They can test things out, improve our well being, and bring perspective on what’s working or not working allowing us to live and function better. The removal or limitation of something can often wake up perspectives, shake up conditions and habits, and mix up various inputs and influences.
The truth is I’ve struggled with social media. Lots of times I’ve not liked who I was or what was stirring within me while using it. It didn’t contribute to the change I was desiring for myself and was, in part, why it took me so long to pursue this dream of writing and finally going live in the first place. It is also part of the reason why it’s taking me time to produce blog posts. However, good continues to come through this struggle making me actually glad for it.
This is a huge topic that goes beyond me and the scope of this simple blog post. I do not pretend to tackle it by offering perfect ideas or solutions. Any quick search shows that this subject is continually being explored and understood to include its relationship with mental health like this article shares: Online Social Networking and Mental Health. This post isn’t to imply social media is bad, but it can still affect us in both good and bad ways as this article discusses: How Can Social Media Affect Your Health. I like how that article makes us consider areas social media can affect us and shares tips for staying healthy while on it. With the increasing use of social media and our ever present digitized world, this post is an attempt to share a growing need to be aware of its influence, be better armed using it, and be willing to step away or create perimeters while navigating it. The goal is to get us to think honestly, to explore this topic for ourselves, and to get us to make changes if necessary so that we can use it in a way that benefits us and others around us.
A huge friend list, successful business, trafficked page, or popularly-liked post doesn’t answer the question of how we are truly doing.
This post comes from real thoughts and considerations of my own scaling back and detox that has spilled over into recurring breaks and awareness for when and how I engage on social media. We also need to be aware of the potential innate addictive design, as this article compares it to a slot machine, and the variables involved while using our smartphones and apps. I’ve found the answer isn’t to feel bad for enjoying it or to condemn social media, but for us to be better versions of ourselves while using it. This will vary from person to person since this is very personal. To do so, I include some open-ended considerations to get us thinking, some suggestions of what a detox could look like, and how I was affected from the break. Maybe you don’t think you need a break and social media isn’t a stronghold in your life. Even so, I still challenge you to ponder these questions and try it even if you don’t feel you “need” it.
What we need or what’s good for us may not always be readily apparent or rarely is it something we want to do.
Enlisting a trusted friend or family member for an outsider’s perspective can be plenty illuminating. Getting your thoughts on paper reinforces the commitment with tangible words to return to later. Consider the following gauging questions and return to them post-detox and periodically thereafter. Questions like this have a way of holding us accountable through personal assessement, something we never out-grow or out-need. Try journaling your experience paying attention to the results, subtle influences, word choices, and attitude and mindset along the way. There’s nothing more powerful than a personal testimony. Beyond data and science, seeing a transformation for ourselves is extremely personal and an excellent gauge.
Social media, although neutral, can be used for better or for worse. Some of the positive aspects of social media is it can spur ideas, build connection and community, offer a means for encouragement, offset negativity with hope, shed light in a dark world, and promote ideas and business. It can also do the opposite, serving as an addictive drug working toward our downfall. This article shares 6 ways it can affect our mental health. I like how this article encourages us to expand our often narrowed lens to view some bigger-picture items. Breaks bring freshness and a new, refined, humbled, inspired self and can help keep all those other valued layers in our life in check.
We need to own this – not the other way around – the platform owning us.
As much as the ways of our head can agree with the concept of social media not being a place to get our value, the ways of our heart can lead us down a different experience. Clicking and scrolling is way more simple and handy to fill emptiness and mask pain than working toward a solution, uncovering what’s underneath, or addressing the cause. I share the following considerations and questions to go deeper that led me to my first detox. These are literally the raw, unedited notes from my journal thinking about my need for a break.
Areas Considered Pre-Break:
- Stealing my heart and mind and filling it with something else.
- Working against things I was trying to change.
- Absorbing too much of my time.
- Interrupting my morning sequence of events not making for a good start to my day.
- Breaks/scaling back from things can never hurt. Neutral things are not always beneficial.
- Want to evaluate the motives for my own posts.
- Didn’t like the frequent re-checking of likes/comments.
- An opportunity to prep for new seasons. (Something I did prior to going live with my blog.)
- Felt inundated with information and want to develop selectivity and essentialism.
- Observed health implications of stressors and blue light before bed.
- Considered the unhealthy aspect to social media getting too much of my time and focus and relying on it as the source for my thoughts/feelings meter.
- Rushed through more important things like Bible/quiet time to get back to social media.
- Is it pushing me toward my goals or away from them?
- What goals or hobbies are getting more of me or less of me as a result of social media?
- How much time do I invest on it compared to other things that are important to me and am I okay with that?
- What areas of my life is not healed?
- What big, long-term things await following a short-term detox sacrifice?
- What little or simple things am I missing in life?
- What positive energy and light could be given to an even greater capacity on social media because of breaks?
- What have I read and liked over and over yet have not acted upon?
- What am I sacrificing or forfeiting in exchange for the absorption?
- Am I being authentic and intentional?
- Am I representing what and who I want to represent?
- In what ways am I distracted from others where I need to be present?
- How am I doing mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?
- How are my relationships with those who are important to me?
- Am I getting caught up in headlines or checking things out from multiple sources and points of view?
If we thrive for everyone’s approval, we will wither by their rejection.
I’ve not worked all this out perfectly, but I’m moving forward learning, changing, and becoming different than I was even a week ago. I continue to need these periodic breaks. It’s not a one-time, bam, I got this. It’s a constant choice paying attention every time I’m on, when I need to regroup, and continually being aware of myself and triggers asking God for help. Our health, work, and relational choices are no different. I’ve tried to address this topic on my own, in my own cleverness and strength. Or ignoring it thinking it will go away on its own. Or thinking tomorrow will be magically different. Or making swap-outs for something temporary, superficial, or short-sighted to “deal” with it, switching out one addiction for another. I only got so far and still ended up dry. I needed something and someone bigger. I am better for it and here are some personal benefits from the detox.
Areas Benefited Post-Break:
- Made me a lot more aware of how big this topic really is.
- Created inspiration allowing me to define and develop my own vision for my blog.
- Rekindled hobbies and sources of learning.
- Challenged me to check out news stories further and seek out other points of view.
- Allowed me to be present and mindful while creating memories on a vacation verses being absorbed on social media instead.
- Encouraged contentment in areas of of my life.
- Reduced blue light before bed.
- Spurred me on to offset negative statements playing in my head in exchange for seeking out truth and promises.
- Bloomed celebration in my heart for others and myself crowding out alternative vying emotions.
- Poured life into me reminding me that social media cannot serve or take the place of what God can only do and be.
- Created more realistic expectations and a filter while using social media.
- Re-evaluated my time and reminded me what’s truly important and long-lasting.
- Allowed for healing and growth verses dulling myself or filling it with things that are actually aggravating and decelerating the healing process.
- Carved out more time with God and undistracted time blocks.
- Showed me ways of single-tasking, giving time to prepare and plan, verses multi-tasking being distracted and expending energy in too many directions.
- Gave me a sense of rest and peace in more ways than one.
What could a social media detox look like? A complete break for a season. Make sure it’s long enough to make a difference and be a challenge. A planned day of the week or an unplanned day when you know you need it. A partial day break like before bed or when spending time with family. Make adjustments to what you allow yourself to be exposed to that may not be healthy, beneficial, encouraging, or promoting of what or who you want to be. Update settings so notifications aren’t flashing at you all day long. If the mere thought of not having access to social media all day gives you heartburn, try breaking away for one hour, especially if that time can be switched out for quality time doing something else. Then, when you showed yourself you can do that, build upon it with an even greater challenge. Maybe take on a week or month-long challenge. You’re worth it and your life is worth it to see what can be gained from it.
Takeaway faith factor: Run our own race. Work off our own timetable. Know our worth in God. Run toward closeness with God. Allow God to fill the God-shaped hole in our heart. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way of everlasting” (Psalm 139:23).
How can we proactively engage on social media while keeping us in check at the same time? Doing the opposite of what we want to do is a good start.
Move through jealousy by encouraging and sharing in other people’s joy. Move through comparison by promoting the person. Move through anger by responding with kindness. Move through emotion by checking things out for yourself and considering multiple points of view. Move through pride by hearing out and acknowledging someone’s point of view. Move through despair by encouraging someone else. Move through selfishness by being willing to learn from and serve someone else. Move through arrogance by meeting people where they are and approaching them differently. Move through envy by being thankful for the good in your life AND that others have good worth celebrating, too. Move through filters and fakeness by just being yourself. Move through control by letting go of what others are doing or not doing and focus on you.
While this single post cannot capture the magnitude of the subject, it can capture the importance of us and our journey with this subject. We matter and how we are doing matters. I am no expert, but there are an arsenal of resources and experts available to help beyond the extent of this post.
Maybe this hits home or has you thinking. My goal is to set us on the path to consider social media’s influence, contemplate its role in our life, consider how we can engage differently, and to pursue help and healing. If you took a break or choose to in the future, I’d love to know your experience. Please share. That’s something we can “like” and “share” all day long.