I’ve been toying with the idea of weaning off social media completely for a while now. I’ve realised that while it’s a very useful platform for things like this community, small business owners and even brands, it’s also a distracting black hole that can spiral out of control if you don’t know when to stop using it. During this pandemic, we’ve all been victims of doomscrolling. With that in mind, I’ve been contemplating how I can use these apps in a measured, meaningful way and stay off for the most part. Unfortunately, the nature of my job (god bless marketing) and our TWW community doesn’t allow me to do that completely, so I decided that I’d just take a short break and see how I felt.
Six weeks ago, I decided to take a break from my personal instagram. I went in with zero expectations. To be honest, I went into it expecting to fail and log back in within a week or two, but I surprised myself by staying off for six. I set a few ground rules – that I’d only login to the app only to post on @theworkwife.in few times a week, respond to our DMs and comments and log out. I deactivated Facebook and I removed the Twitter and Linkedin apps from my phone. I only logged in and logged out through the browser if I needed to post for work. None of those things affected me at all because I’ve never doomscrolled on any of them – Instagram was my only weakness! I knew that going off of it was only going to be temporary (and possibly hard) but I decided to give it an honest shot.
Here’s what happened in the last six weeks.
I regained focus
I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but my god, I’m still appalled at the amount of content I consumed in a day on instagram. Suddenly I was not seeing people post their travel pictures, vaccine shots and opinions on every single thing, influencers marketing products that I might end up buying, creator accounts telling me how I should be inspired in the middle of a pandemic and random accounts that did nothing for me on my explore feed. It gave me SO much free headspace. I was also not consuming news that was causing me daily anxiety. I checked covid news on google only when I voluntarily wanted to know how things were, but I didn’t track numbers or cases in my city on a daily basis. We have a covid helpline at work and there was already a lot going on there that was upsetting. Having one less channel to consume helped in preserving my sanity. With all this content out of the way, I was able to focus on just a few things – I prioritized nutrition, immunity and survival. I focused on those three things and cut out all other noise. Which brings me to my next point.
I was able to re-prioritize and reset health issues I’d been struggling with for years
I was diagnosed with PCOS 13 years ago. I know what most people are thinking, “oh, PCOS, everyone has it”. Sure, they probably do. But it’s a silent killer if you don’t pay attention to it. It disrupts the quality of your life more than you can imagine and as you age, new symptoms and newer related health issues crop up. For me, it was fluctuating weight and high levels of work-related stress, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, which then led to insulin resistance meaning pre-diabetes, a serious comorbidity for Covid-19. My aunt passed away in January from covid and my cousins were inconsolable because of how suddenly it all happened. Diabetes was one of her co-morbidities. I knew she was much older, but it still terrified me. I knew that if I didn’t work extra hard on my health now, I could go through some severe risks too in the off chance I got it. So I put this new lockdown to good use. No instagram means no cherry picking a thousand pieces of advice from ten different accounts. It means you create a focused plan for yourself, your needs and requirements and simply practice it day after day. I didn’t get distracted by others’ diets, workouts, lifestyles and opinions because I knew I had different issues that they were not addressing. If you have specific goals, you need more focus and fewer distractions. A detox helps!
I allowed myself to feel what I felt in entirety
The boon of social is that it gives you other perspectives outside of your own, and the bane of it is that too. On some days, I did wake up pretty ok. On other days I woke up feeling like shit and not “blessed” even though, on paper, I knew I was more blessed than people who are in far worse situations right now. But I let myself feel all my emotions and just went with the day instead of trying to change how I felt. We all have different coping mechanisms and we all have bad days. It’s okay. Being off instagram allowed me to feel how I wanted to because I wasn’t constantly seeing people’s opinions and changing my own feelings based on them. This definitely helped me keep it together a little better than I would’ve if I was checking social media everyday.
I used my scrolling time to sharpen up other skills
Going off instagram didn’t mean I went off screens entirely. That seemed impossible. But I swapped my browsing time with things that would benefit me personally. I started reading and painting more, something I hadn’t done consistently in the past year. I now play quick word puzzles, sudoku, sentence or memory games – basically any easy 5 min game a few times a day that helps me improve my cognitive skills.
I stopped keeping up with everyone’s lives
I only kept in touch with close family and friends on whatsapp or through video calls. I stopped browsing and looking at every instagram follower’s life and what they were upto, if they had it easier or harder, where they were going etc. This stuff really affects you subconsciously and at some point, for your own good, you have to proactively stop. And I did.
I cut off channels of temptation
By not browsing, I stopped seeing brands and their new drops, I didn’t feel the need to order from Instagram’s newest baker or local shop. In general, I’m not much of a crazy shopper anymore but I’ve been able to keep an even tighter wallet, thanks to this. With the current situation, any amount of extra savings can be incredibly useful.
These last few weeks, in spite of how bad it’s been news wise, has helped me cope personally. It’s been SO much better than the way I coped with the pandemic last year. If anything, I did the opposite in 2020 but I didn’t want to go down that road again this time. I want to conclude by saying that in no way am I trashing Instagram or saying it sucks. I get it, it’s a way to “relax” and unwind for a lot of us. All I’m saying is, using it more intentionally can be more beneficial to you and your mental health. I’m still off my personal instagram and haven’t found a need to come back yet. If I do, I’ll continue to exercise some restraint so that I can keep points 1-6 going, because I know that in the long run that’s the only thing that will really make a difference to my life.
Have you ever tried an Instagram detox? Did it help and if so, how? Tell us in the comments!