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WHY I TOOK A BREAK FROM SOCIAL MEDIA – AND WHY I’LL BE DOING IT AGAIN.

I want you to do something the next time you’re at home with your family or around a group of people. Look up and see just how many of those around you are on their phones. I bet you that some, if not all of them are looking down at their screens, playing some app or searching through a social media feed. Social media has taken the social aspect out of social interaction. People are more comfortable conversing with a screen in front of them than with the people that are right there around them. I see it all the time. I’ll be watching a movie with my sister and brother in law and look up and both of them will be scrolling through their feeds while they’re ‘watching’ television. How you can watch tv and browse social media at the same time, I don’t know.
It has been scientifically proven that taking a social media break is beneficial for your health. Studies have shown that prolonged use of social media has been linked to depression, anxiety and body image issues. It’s also been proven that excess social media use is linked to weight gain, as you are inactive for long periods of time from staring down at your screen. So put down the phone or iPad and go for a walk already. Maybe talk to your neighbours while you’re at it?

WHY I UNPLUGGED.

I had a pretty crap start to the new year and I found myself needing to make a change. I just needed some space, time to regroup. So I unplugged. I sent out a status telling everyone on social media that I was taking a break and if they needed to talk to me they could call or text and then I setup all my social media pages to send an automated message that I was social media free for the foreseeable future and that they could contact me via email. My break lasted a little over a month and you know what? It was great. I had so much free time on my hands because I wasn’t sitting on my phone flipping through countless social media feeds for hours on end. I left my Instagram account running so that I could still post images to my business Instagram that would in turn update my Facebook page (the majority of my business comes through Facebook so I couldn’t abandon it completely) but that was all. And doing that took no time at all.

I’m currently back on all my social media accounts, mainly because I want to put more effort into my photography business and my blog and doing that requires a social media presence. Social media isn’t all bad but it has a habit of taking over your life. I cannot count the amount of times I have sat down to do one quick thing on my computer and three hours later I’ve done thirty other things except the one thing I sat down to do.

So I’ve got a new plan. I now schedule my social media time. I know it sounds nuts but its working. I give myself an hour a day to check my posts, answer comments, post what I need and then I get off. The exception is when I’m doing something specific like blog planning or blog post writing etc. which I plan time for in advance anyway and only after I’ve done everything I need to do for the day. Even then I am going to start setting a time limit to get those things done so I don’t get distracted by other things because as we all know, the lure of the internet is often too strong to resist.
I already plan and schedule a lot of my blog posts and I have started drafting all my Instagram posts for my business and at a certain time everyday a reminder will tell me to post one of my drafts. I go on, post, and get off. Nice and easy and efficient.

I know most people use social media as a way of interacting with friends and loved ones. But how about the next time you want to talk to someone you call them, send them an email or hell, go really old school and send them a letter. Put a little more effort into your social interactions than quick, short messages filled with emoji’s or ten second Snaps overlaid with dorky filters. It’s more personal and most importantly, it’s more fun. If you’re intrigued by the idea of unplugging, here are some tips that might help.

LOG OUT OF YOUR APPS. 

This ensures that you won’t be tempted to just peek at your feed. And if you have your usernames and passwords saved and logging in is as simple as clicking a button, it will be up to you too have the will power not to do it. You can do it – I believe in you.

MOVE THEM ALL INTO A FOLDER THAT ISN’T ON YOUR HOME SCREEN. 

When I first did this I moved all my social media apps (Facebook, Snapchat, Messenger, Instagram and Twitter) into another folder on my second screen with the folder title being STAY OUT with little skull emoji’s. It was dramatic but efficient. Part of the temping nature of social media is that it was right there on my home screen the moment I unlocked my phone. Having it on another screen and in a folder I wouldn’t normally go to cut down on the temptation.

PUT DOWN THE PHONE. 

I have a habit of forgetting where I leave my phone quite often but I usually make a conscious effort to not have to have it right beside me or in my hand/on my lap all the times. Leaving it in my bedroom on my desk or sitting it on a side table in the living room helped a lot. You don’t have to have it with you at all times. It is not a necessary life tool.

FIND SOMETHING ELSE TO DO WITH YOUR TIME. 

If you find yourself tempted to pick up your phone, step away and do something else. Anything else. Do you have a list of things you have been meaning to get to but haven’t gotten around to it? Read a book, join a gym, cook a recipe you’ve always wanted to try, drive to somewhere in your city you’ve never been. There are a multitude of things you could do with your time that don’t require an app.

Granted, I didn’t take a break for that long. A month isn’t really an extraordinary length of time, however that short time that I had without the worries of a media presence were absolute bliss. I loved it and I genuinely wished I could deactivate some of my social media accounts but the truth of it is that social media helps business growth and in some cases it runs businesses entirely. It just doesn’t have to run your life. Instead of experiencing life sitting behind a keyboard, I’d rather get out and actually live it. How about you? xx

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