I just wrapped up two weeks away from social media and, long story short…
It was a pretty incredible experience.
Months ago, when COVID started, I felt myself reaching for my phone more (and more) often.
I’d find myself opening up Instagram or my text messages within minutes of waking up.
I’d want to check in and see what was going on, what was new, what we needed to be doing.
I’d want to see what people were up to, how they were doing, to feel even a bit connected in the new reality of social distancing and quarantine.
What businesses needed help? What friends had causes to support? How could I lend a hand?
I was overwhelmed and confused, picking up my phone in hopes of clarity.
The overwhelming amount of information I was taking in would make my anxiety spike, and then in a vicious cycle I’d find myself reaching for my phone again to get more information (the spiral naturally continued).
As my anxiety grew, the time I spent on social media continued to increase. I found myself doing things I never did pre-COVID (like scrolling on my phone in bed at night, which would keep me up worrying).
It became very clear that my phone was a huge source of increased anxiety and panic. During this time I found it hard to write – it was like I had lost my voice. I felt worried when I’d put my phone down that something big or awful was happening and I wouldn’t know about it (which would make me check again and again). My anxiety manifests in ‘hyper vigilance.’
For months, I heard the deep-down need: ‘you need a break from social media.’ But rather than trusting that, I kept pushing past it. I told myself stories like…
‘Your business won’t survive if you take a break’ and ‘it’s wrong to step away from social media when there is so much going on in the world.’
Do you ever tell yourself stories that talk you out of trusting yourself?
One day a couple weeks ago, I had a moment where I tried to sit down and write an email to my email list. Writing is one of my absolute favorite things in the world (and in my work). I sat at my computer for four hours. FOUR HOURS. I wrote a few sentences during that time but kept distracting myself by picking up my phone. Reading posts from other people. Reading comment sections. Every time I tried to write, I felt like I was choking on my words. It was like my voice was trapped. Lost.
I realized in that moment that a few things were happening: (1) information overload from everything I was trying to consume. My nervous system was in overdrive! and (2) I was feeling the physical manifestation of being out of integrity. My work and mission all comes down to helping women listen to and trust themselves. I believe so much in coming from that place of tuning in and trusting… yet I was missing a huge opportunity to do that for myself.
I closed my computer, logged onto Instagram, and shared that I’d be taking two weeks off of social.
When I logged off, I felt the most incredible sense of peace wash over me. I was right where I needed to be: not scrolling on my phone.
During my two weeks off of social media, I learned so much.
I’m excited to get to share some of my reflections with you today…
The first big takeaway is that before I plug in to the rest of the world, I’ve got to have a few moments to connect with myself.
Over the two weeks away from social, I got back into a really gentle + flexible morning routine. I wanted to start my day feeling more present, grounded, and energized.
Truthfully, I’ve been so turned off by the idea of ‘morning routines’ because I feel they can be made into these hours-long experiences. In my life right now, I don’t particularly resonate with that. With two little ones, I never know how early my day will start or what will be needed of me when it does.
I reminded myself that a morning routine doesn’t have to be all or nothing and I created mine in ways that can incorporate my family, be done quickly, or can be longer and leisurely when the opportunity presents itself. It leaves space to tune into how I’m feeling and has built in flexibility to work within the current season of my life. Both are essential for intuitive living.
Right now, my AM routine includes: savoring my first sip of coffee; morning movement (this might be an UNMEASURED barre class, a walk outside, dancing to a fun song, or taking a few moments to stretch); a shower (even if it’s just a quick two minute rinse), and a daily devotional (if I have time to myself, I might journal about it and if not I simply read it out loud at family breakfast).
I cannot tell you the difference that starting my day in this way (versus going straight for my phone) has made in my anxiety. It’s like night and day!
The second big takeaway is how important quiet is for me to connect with my voice.
I am so grateful to be back to writing [including weekly emails here].
Over the two weeks it became so clear to me that I need quiet space away from non-stop stimulation and consumption of external messages to be able to connect with my own voice. Whether it’s writing to you here, working on a creative writing project, or journaling.
I feel so alive when I write and I missed it so much!
The third big takeaway for me is that I actually don’t learn very well on social media.
For me, this is changing both how I consume social media and create content on social media moving forward.
When I was an attorney, I remember a partner telling me that I was not very good at multitasking. At the time, I was a little offended. Now, I agree.
When I’m on social media, it feels like I’m trying to have 2,000 conversations, reading 10 books, and flipping from channel to channel on tv all at once. And, like I said above, I’m not the best multitasker.
I definitely think social media has benefits: like introducing us to something / someone new, giving a jolt of inspiration, and inviting us to connect off social in a deeper way on a topic that’s meaningful to us, to name a few!
What I learned during my social media break is that for me to really learn, I need to be intentional about going deeper off of the app.
Whether it’s working with someone, joining a workshop, reading a book, subscribing to a newsletter, or digging into a podcast… that’s how I actually learn and enjoy soaking something in!
Some things I’ve enjoyed lately are…
Slow Burn (I’m almost on season 3! this podcast is SO good); Rachel Rickett’s courses, Allie Lehman’s weekly emails, the book An American Marriage, watching Sweet Magnolias + the latest season of the Bold Type, to name a few!
I even found the clarity to say ‘yes’ to something I’ve wanted to do for years: doula training with Latham Thomas + Mama Glow (I begin the program next week and I truly can’t wait).
Having this space to evaluate not only how I learn but also what I want to be learning about has been so fun!
And, it’s made me realize how I want to share on social media to reflect that, too. Which made getting back on feel exciting.
Lastly, and I’m sure this will come as no surprise, but it’s helped me be so much more present.
Yes, in writing and learning (heck, even in watching tv!!), but also in moments with my family or even quiet moments with myself. Two weeks was plenty of time to find freedom from the urge to pick up my phone to zone out of an uncomfortable feeling or to search for ‘answers’ or a quick distraction. And, regardless of if the people around me noticed a difference, the difference I felt inside was remarkable.
Social media has some benefits and I’m so grateful for the connections it’s sparked, the space to share, the new voices it’s allowed me to hear, and more. But, it’s not everything… not even close. And, I have to make sure my relationship with it reflects that moving forward!
In just two weeks, the space from social media helped me to learn so much about myself, reconnect with my voice, and more.
And, without a doubt, the biggest thing I learned from two weeks away from social media is to trust myself.
I hope that’s what you’ll take away from these reflections, too.
Love this. I am feeling all of this what you wrote about social media-I KNOW I need a break from social media but I can’t seem to put the phone down initially. Especially when first waking up in the morning-any tips on breaking away for that first day? Just need a little kickstart over here.
Simonida Botic says
Hi Deanna! So glad you enjoyed it. I really relate to what you shared – it’s actually why I took a longer break. I felt like I needed to have the reminder, ‘ah, I’m not looking at that for a while!’ It helped me feel so FREE to not look. Also, I moved my phone out of my bedroom – helped a ton, too!