What I Learned From 24 Hours Away From Social Media

Disconnecting to reconnect.

This weekend I took the opportunity to take a major break from the virtual world. It started last Thursday when I woke up and realized the first thing I do, almost every morning, is look at my phone. Many of you are probably thinking “So what? So do I”. While many of us have the habit of checking our phones before we’ve even put two feet on the ground, that is no reason to consider it healthy. “Normal” does not always equate to healthy. Just because the entire world is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s good for YOU. Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not trying to shame anyone, for a lot of us checking our phone in the morning isn’t doing too much serious damage. What it is doing though, is programming your mind to disconnect from the real world before giving it a chance to connect with reality. When our brains are fed news stories, social media feeds and email inboxes first thing in the morning we give ourselves no chance to decide anything about our day, before the virtual world is doing it for us! How can we ask ourselves how we feel, what kind of day we want to have and what we need to do to get through the day if we are reading about the latest tragedy or comparing our lumpy bed to someone else’s vacation lifestyle highlight reel? My point here is this: While it may not cause any serious damage, do you want to start your day disconnected? Maybe your reality is difficult right now and maybe checking your phone provides solace. Especially for those of us who struggle with our mental health, sometimes our virtual world appears more attractive than reality. However, even on days where escaping reality is most attractive, we need to give our brains a break!

Through this revelation about how I start my day I decided to delete all social media apps for the entire morning. I did this the night prior so I woke up and had no apps to check. It was such an odd feeling because force of habit caused me to immediately reach for my phone when I rolled over and opened my eyes but voila the apps weren’t there! No social media, no news and no email.  It was amazing how much different my morning went without my screen. I had more time for my morning rituals and practices, I had time for a longer yoga flow and a slower breakfast and I had time to quite literally smell the coffee. It may sound dramatic but it felt like I was seeing my morning in an entirely new light. I felt freer when I wasn’t planning my next post or checking the endless feeds. After successfully keeping social media apps off of my phone for most of Thursday I decided to continue the trend throughout the weekend. I would delete my apps before bed and not re-add them to my phone until mid-way through my day and once more before bed. It was so amazing how connected I felt to my real life, without the attachment to the virtual world. This is what led me to declare “Sundaze” - a plan to keep Sunday sacred and keeping all social media OFF my phone. I’ll tell you, while nothing particularly spectacular happened Sunday, it was such a lovely day. Here’s a little timeline of what I did on my first Sunday off from the virtual world:

- I organized my studio and added new plant life. (Without feeling the need to share it in my stories or on my Facebook feed) 

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 - I made new color swatches for my future art commissions. 

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 - I snuggled with my dog. (who loves warm blankets and towels wrapped around her 😍)

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 - I went for a walk and took in the sights, sounds and smells of nature.

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-  I went to bed early! 

Overall, it was a wonderful day. I am planning to do this every week, hoping I can make it last and maybe inspire others to have more scheduled time off from the virtual world.

To leave you for your day (hopefully connected more to reality!) here is a list of what I learned on my day off from social media: 

 - I didn’t miss anything. I came back Monday morning to some messages, lots of new followers and some comments. Nothing to waste precious moments of my weekend on.

- I noticed more. I noticed the birds chirping, the sun shining, the way my dog looks when she’s basking in the sun. I mean I noticed these things before but when free from the obligation of my phone, I noticed it all much more vibrantly.

- I noticed how much I have been missing. Looking down at a screen leaves you missing everything happening if you looked up! It was so disheartening to know I was missing so many beautiful little moments because of my screen.

- I didn’t feel an impulsive urge to create after comparing my art/life to others. Everything I did artistically for my day off was focused and patient. When I wasn’t being exposed to everyone else’s art and accomplishments I was able to focus much more clearly on my own. 

- I felt exhausted. I think I spent so much time distracting myself with what’s on my phone that I actually was able to divert from how tired I’ve been. I was able to go to bed at 8pm with no issue and for someone with insomnia that’s amazing. 

- I had more time for things I didn’t know I was rushing. I was rushing my meals, my showers and much more in an effort to get back to sharing and checking. When I let that go, everything slowed down a bit.

- I missed social media TOO much. While I was happy to be free from the burden there were moments where I felt myself being pulled to re-download the apps. It felt too much like not being able to put down a cigarette or other addictive substance.  

- I slept better. Not only did I go to bed at 8pm but my sleep was deeper and dreams more vivid. Without checking the latest updates before sleep my mind was able to slip more easily into REM sleep and my subconscious was able to sort through dreams I had been repressing. 

Overall the point here is just to ask yourself how much is too much when it comes to your phone and social media? Are you spending precious life moments lost in a sea of highlight reels? Is your life more connected or disconnected? Is that what you want?

I would love to hear from you regarding this topic so feel free to comment below with thoughts and feedback.

Thanks for reading!