I Tried Going on a Social Media Detox—Here’s What Happened
As much as I try to be present and zen, it just doesn’t come natural to me; I have to really work at it. And the black hole that is social media doesn’t help the matter.
On one hand, social platforms have opened me up to many wonderful connections, and I ironically even moonlight as a social media strategist on the side. But on the other hand, the social media addiction is real, my friends—and those glossy square images also cause a great deal of distraction, comparison and unnecessary pressure in my life.
My Problem: Social Media Addiction
I thought when I became a mom, I’d naturally cut back on social media use, but it turns out that endless nursing sessions and hours spent alone with a tiny human is a breeding ground for mindless Instagram scrolling.
One night while putting the baby to bed, I caught myself once again scrolling through other people’s glamorous lives on the Internet—many of them strangers.
Meanwhile, my own perfectly imperfect life was happening right in front of me: sweet coos, tiny baby feet and all. I had some serious FOMO, but this time it was fear of missing out on my own life.
My Solution: Go On a Weeklong Social Media & Digital Detox
That night was a big wakeup call for me. I knew something clearly had to change, so I decided to bite the bullet and go on a weeklong social media detox.
I had tried mini detoxes in the past—like deleting Instagram for a day, putting my phone on airplane mode at night and setting app limits—but nothing stuck. I always ended up right back where I started: in a deep, dark rabbit hole of hardcore Insta-stalking.
It was time for a real cleanse, and this time I was serious!
Here are the four main rules I set for myself:
- No personal use of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (note: If you go after this, you can replace with the apps you’re personally most addicted to).
- No app use, email or Googling after putting the baby to bed.
- Aim to check and respond to emails in chunks throughout the day (roughly 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.).
- No phone use at the table during meals or in the bedroom at night.
Rules are great, but if you don’t set yourself up for success, you’ll fail… a lesson I learned the hard way during my prior attempts.
So here’s what I did to keep myself in check:
- I logged out of my personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts on my laptop and iPhone.
- I signed out of my email account when not in use.
- I moved my most frequently used apps—specifically Gmail and Instagram—to a hidden folder in my phone.
- I disabled “Siri Suggested Apps” (which kept popping up on my home screen, tempting me to login to Instagram).
- I enabled Apple Screen Time, scheduling a “downtime” from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
- I kept my phone in another room during mealtime and bedtime to prevent temptation (out of site, out of mind!).
- I kept my daily gratitude journal in a physical journal versus using the notepad app on my phone.
I also scheduled out all of my social media posts for the businesses I work with through a social media management software, and made it a point to avoid logging into the app as best I could. Aside from a few last-minute minor hiccups, everything went seamlessly.
After setting some very clear boundaries, I was ready to rock and roll! There was no turning back now.
The Results: I Became a Better Version of Myself
I was More Present
Fortunately, the first day of my detox coincided with a massage appointment—where cell phone use is frowned upon anyway. It was so freeing to shut out all the outside noise for a while, and I even enjoyed a delicious, unplugged vegan lunch afterward (without worrying about getting the perfect Instagramable shot of my food). I could get used to this, I thought to myself.
Throughout the rest of the week, I thoroughly enjoyed quiet lunches to myself and dinnertime giggles and conversations with my husband and baby girl. It felt really good to be a more present mama and wife, and I quickly realized that nothing truly is “urgent.” The email response and Instagram post can wait.
I was Happier
Even 24 hours into my detox, I noticed my mood improved. Instead of focusing on what everybody else was doing—in their businesses and their lives—I was focusing on me. It was empowering to take a step back and ask myself what truly makes me happy.
Throughout the week, I found so much joy in the little things: writing in my daily gratitude journal, sipping a cup of coffee on the patio, taking a dip in the pool with my baby girl. Without constant notifications, DMs and mindless scrolling, I was able to embrace the JOMO (Joy of Missing Out) to the fullest.
I was More Productive
Turns out, social media is a giant time suck. In fact, Apple’s Screen Time reported that my overall phone use was down a whopping 45 percent over my detox week! Without my daily dose of Instagram and Facebook—sometimes hours worth—I suddenly had much more time on my hands. I used this newfound freedom to read, work on my business, write and run errands. It made me realize that there’s always time for the things you want to make time for.
And despite not posting on social media all week, my affirmation card sales (part of my online business) were still flowing through and I even landed a few wholesale orders.
The Verdict: I Didn’t Miss Social Media all That Much
At the end of the day, I didn’t miss using social media as much as I thought I would. In fact, one morning over breakfast, I told my husband that I absolutely loved being on my detox and all of the positive side effects I was experiencing (no withdrawal headaches or anything).
I won’t lie: There were times I was tempted to take a quick peek at my Instagram account, but just like dipping into the bread basket before dinner, it just wasn’t worth it to me.
Now that my weeklong detox is officially over, I’ve been thinking about the way I intend to use social media going forward. While it’s unrealistic for me to cut it out of my life completely, my number one goal is to be much more intentional about how I use it. Is the message I’m sharing important to me and my community? Does this person’s account inspire me or make me feel worse about myself? Does this email need a response now, or can it wait until the morning?
I also plan to keep up with some of the practices I’ve grown to love over the past week: no phone use during meals or in the bedroom, checking emails in chunks and writing in my gratitude journal, pen to paper.
Bottom line? Life goes on without social media… and it feels really, really good too.
Interested in more digital detox tips? Here are five to get you started today.