One of my favorite exercises I practice every few months is a social media cleanse. Not only are the benefits roaring, but the statistics supporting breaks will shock you.
According to some research, this kind of cleanse is monumental for things like sleeping habits and mental health stability. A survey conducted by Bank of America found that 71 percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smartphones.
44 percent answered that they couldn’t go a single day without their smartphone. And finally 35 percent answered that the first thing they reach for when they wake up is their phone.
I took my results and compared them to some conducted by colleagues in the communication field, such as Lifehack, Entrepreneur, and Her Campus. But found mine to be slightly different, in the best way.
I usually practice my cleanse for one week at a time. But there have been cases I’ve made it last a whole lot longer just because I’m enjoying it. The most I’ve gone without it was a little over three weeks.
1. Delete all apps that connect you with other people (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, VSCO, even LinkedIn).
2. Only use your phone for texts, calls and e-mails, and maybe pictures if you feel the need.
3. Try cutting screen time from your daily regimen for this allotted period.
4. Go about your day!
In the beginning you’ll notice that you can’t help but open up your phone and click to where your apps used to be. This is a mix of social conditioning and muscle memory. For the first day or so it’s really going to annoy you I’m not gonna lie.
But after the first day or so I kind of felt pathetic that I was still opening my phone and trying to access these apps. My mind knew they weren’t there, but it really exhibits the lack of discipline and obsession I have toward these apps.
After the first few days, though, you don’t even notice what you’re “missing” anymore, and even better, you don’t even care.
My beneficial takeaways:
1. Sleep- I reached a point of REM I didn’t even know existed. I would fall asleep almost immediately, which would never happen. And I woke up energetic, fulfilled and satisfied. I slept deeply and had much more vivid dreams.
2. Social- Low and behold, when you’re not deep in a screen whenever you can spare a breath of down time, you’re more aware of people and your surroundings. Face-to-face interactions become more preeminent.
I actually started to enjoy them instead of preaching my usual hating people 24/7 mantra. Communication is the most important component in any given relationship. Business, personal, interpersonal, they all involve a rope of communication. So why not open yourself up to mastering a vital skill.
3. Reduced Anxiety- I think this was the most important result for me. Sometimes scrolling through Instagram and seeing every other post from either a supermodel like Gigi Hadid or an influencer like Tezza makes me feel insecure.
I think I start feeling like this because they’re traveling everywhere I want to go, every other day. They’re wearing the most luxurious and beautiful brands I can’t afford (yet). They eat everything they want, carbs after carbs and still look like they haven’t eaten since 6th grade.
Overall they just seem to be more successful and they’re either my age or a tiny bit older. I guess it makes me feel like I’m not succeeding at the rate I should, and maybe I never will! Eliminating the constant ads and posts from accounts like that reduced my stress. It allowed me to focus more on myself instead of comparing myself to other people.
4. FOMO no more- One of the best things about a social media cleanse is not having to worry or frankly give a shit about what other people are doing. When you think about it that’s all social media is, a competition to see who’s being the coolest that day. Dumb. As. Hell.
Without social media I only cared about what the people I’m close with were doing, it made me more present with them. The greatest part about only caring about what you’re doing is you have SO MUCH MORE fun. My god it’s just relieving, being unapologetically yourself all the time without fear of judgment or scrutiny.
5. I realized I have other interests- Until you disconnect with your phone it’s hard to recognize how much time you waste on it. In total I was averaging a little over five and a half hours on my phone each day.
Well, let me tell you all the things I started to do instead. I got my groove back for finding hidden gems in the city, vintage hunts, coffee shops, stores etc. I spent almost all my days outside when it was nice, I started looking up places for day trips.
I got back on my creative kick reading, writing, painting, and drawing. I spent more time with friends and family. It’s excruciating looking back and realizing all the wasted time I spent instead of doing the things I’ve always loved that inspire me!
6. It encouraged me to start better habits- I’m not going to give the whole spiel but having a lot of time to myself allowed me to start making better choices. A few examples I can think of are being more active, eating more balanced and healthfully, and practicing a cleaner and more organized way of living.
Free time is the most valuable thing we have, and how we spend it determines the difference from being an effective and ineffective person.
It makes sense when you think about it. If a person is spending more time allowing themself to grow and be more productive, this will allow someone to be more successful than a person who wastes time on irrelevant eye candy.
I suggest everyone give it a go. If you have a really difficult time with it, try rationing out the apps one by one. Or even start for a shorter amount of time and work your way up to week and month points.
Once you download the apps back you’ll be surprised with how less time you give to each one.
Have you ever noticed how the most successful people don’t even have accounts on social media?