Here’s what a week without social media did for my mental health.
I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for about 8 years now, and during those years I’ve had ups and downs, things that worked to make it better and things that made it worse. For the past few years I’ve tried to find ways to get off of my medication, but never had much success. As I’ve dug in a bit deeper than the surface level stuff such as, exercise, eat right, get plenty of sleep and don’t get me wrong, those are all very important things you should be doing to help! I found some more interesting information regarding depression and anxiety and social media.
We’ve all heard the lectures from our parents around don’t spend to much time in front of the screen or your brain will turn to mush, but I wanted to really dig deep and find what affects social media actually has in possibly hindering our mental improvements. So I decided to try a little experiment. I listen to the Tim Ferris Podcast “Tribe of Mentors”, and with each interview each person has said the same thing, do NOT start your morning with a screen in front of you. Don’t check your email, don’t check your news feed, and especially don’t check your social media. So I decided to give it a try for a week, and I was genuinely surprised at what happened.
I immediately noticed that I had WAY more energy than usual, and I didn’t feel as stressed out about nothing, as I usually do. But the biggest thing I noticed was that I was more content with what I was doing with my day. I felt as if a weight had kind of been lifted off my shoulders. I think so often I go on social media (especially Instagram) and see all the really cool/ expensive things the people I follow are doing, and I never really noticed how anxious it made me feel! Now that I’ve had time to step back and limit my screen time I realize just how much I was subconsciously comparing myself to others. I felt like I had to live up to some unrealistic standard that I felt everyone around me was achieving, like I had to constantly be doing something awesome with my time or else I was, in a sense, unimportant, and would be left unnoticed or forgotten. The scary things is, these are all things I really only started to notice AFTER I really limited my social media time. I never really paid attention to how I was feeling while I was spending time scrolling, and it took me deliberately getting OFF of it to notice how it really was affecting me. I really didn’t spend that much time on it to begin with, but that was usually how I started off my day. It was kind of like reading the morning paper. You get on to know what everyone else is doing, but with just the week I spent making it my goal to not get on an hour after I got up and an hour before I went to bed honestly made SUCH a big difference. I was happier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious and felt more satisfied with my day.
I am not saying don’t ever use social media. I honestly think it’s great and I’ve met quite a few friends through Instagram. But here’s what I’ve decided to do… Keep to my goal and stay away from screens an hour after I get up and an hour before bed (there are a TON of studies that show how artificial screen light causes insomnia, so if you’ve been having trouble sleeping definitely give that a try), I make it a rule that if I’m with other people I keep my phone in my pocket. No reason to know what other people are up to when I’m with a room full of them. Also, I decided I’m not going to just sit on social media when I’m bored. I made a physical list in a place that I can see it with other things to do if I find myself getting bored, like read a book, paint a picture, and whoa here comes a big one, actually CALL people instead of letting them know I acknowledge them by giving their pictures a like. I just don’t want my social media time to become a mindless thing anymore, I control when and for how long I stay on my screen. It will NO longer become my distraction or excuse when i’m bored or tired. Giving yourself that freedom back has seriously made SUCH a big difference with my mental health. Obviously it didn’t cure it, but If you’re feeling more stressed out than usual, more depressed, or having a hard time sleeping, definitely step back and ask yourself how much time you’ve been spending giving someone else’s life a thumbs up and not investing in your own. I can’t tell you why exactly it made such a big difference. Maybe because it gives you a chance to stop feeling so insecure about your own life and start really living in it, or maybe investing that time you spend by just sitting and scrolling on something that gives you value as a person helps, or maybe it has nothing to do with that and it really is just that artificial light is bad for you. I don’t know, all I know is that it’s made a pretty big difference for me and I encourage all of you to give this little experiment a try and don’t start or end your day on any type of social media.