The Power of Unplugged Weekends
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, my way to use Instagram has changed during the years, I’ve quit Twitter and Facebook, but it still doesn’t mean that I’m not addicted to social media. In the past, I’ve found myself multiple times scrolling through pages and pages in order to find something catchy to read online, constantly refreshing my Instagram feed and spending too much time in the Explore feed. I started noticing that these unhealthy habits were affecting my life as a student in a bad way. It started being more and more difficult for me to concentrate, it took me an embarrassing amount of time to prepare my last few exams to be honest with you, mostly because I couldn’t focus my brain for more than 10 minutes straight. I even tried to lock myself in the bathroom with just my textbook once because I was feeling incredibly frustrated by my unfocused mind. I thought I was having some mental issues at some point, especially after realizing I couldn’t concentrate even to read a book for pleasure. I constantly felt the need for something funnier, quicker, easier to consume, like social media contents. I could even find myself picking up the phone to scroll my Instagram feed when I was out with friends, always ready to fill those free pockets of time.
I tried meditation and it helped me to calm down a little bit when I was too anxious for University, but I couldn’t stick with it until I incorporated it to Yoga. I started with the quick and easy Yoga practices of the Yoga With Adriene channel and I ended up forming the habit of 20–30 minutes of Yoga every day, thanks to Adriene’s 30-day series (it’s free, the playlist can be found here). I love this moment of self-care and I always look forward to it every day, it helps to clear my mind, to keep my body flexible without having to sweat in a crowded gym, and it’s definitely less boring than just sit and meditate for me.
For 2018, I picked up SLOW as my guiding word because I definitely wanted to change the way I was running my life, always online and ready to fill every minute of my days, not being able to watch a single TV show without checking my phone. I didn’t have many plans, aside from just slowing down.
Then, I decided to spend the whole Christmas weekend away from social media and it changed everything. I wished Merry Christmas to my online friends on December 24th and then I completely ignored social media until December 27th. For the first time, I felt myself actually present, actively participating in my family’s activities, I even watched an entire Disney movie without missing my phone. On December 27th I didn’t even want to go back on Instagram because the idea of catching up after 3 days was too exhausting for me!
After that, I decided to take one day of the week unplugged for the rest of the year, I chose Sunday because it’s when people are less active online and I thought it could be easier for me to avoid FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). And it worked. I also set the rule to not check social media before noon, I start my days reading a good book now rather than catching up with the world and I have to say that my anxiety level decreased a lot.
A Few Frequently Asked Questions
(Inspired by Madeleine’s post about her own experience)
How do you keep yourself from picking up your phone?
I don’t have any social media app on my phone except for Instagram. During my days unplugged, I usually remove it from my home screen so it’s hidden in the app drawer (I have an Android phone). More than once I can surprise myself turning on the screen of my phone and swiping around looking for something to do until I realize that’s just the twitch to reach Instagram, so I lock my screen and move away from my phone. It gets better with time, I promise. I reach for my phone less and less these days.
Does this bother others when you’re unreachable?
My unplugged days don’t include turning off my phone, I still use it to take photos and chat with friends and family on WhatsApp. However, I only receive notifications for calls and text messages, I only have a red badge for new messages on WhatsApp and the other apps are totally muted. I still check emails once or twice a day, but it isn’t a big deal for me, if they require a long reply or me doing something, I just leave them in my inbox for when I’ll be at my laptop again.
Does being unplugged mean you don’t watch TV either? Or use your computer?
I’d like to say yes, but the answer is actually no. Partly because I’m currently researching/writing my thesis, so I can’t take a whole day off (I already have a “day off” when I work at the library once a week), but staying away from social media helps me to focus more on my work, so Sunday is usually my most productive day of the week. Also, at the end of the day, I like to relax watching Netflix because I’m usually too tired to read (but I try to dedicate half an hour to Harry Potter every night!).
In the near future, I’d like to take Saturday away from social media too, but I’m not forcing myself right now. I like how things are going on and I prefer to introduce new habits slowly.
How do you handle social media? Do you feel like they are affecting your life in a negative way?