My Biggest Takeaway from My Social Media Fast
The last quarter of 2019 was the biggest grossing quarter in the history of my business. The holiday launch was more successful than I had anticipated. The holiday market at The Handcrafted Cooperative was my most successful market to date. After the bursts of business in November, I had a steady flow of business throughout December. It was fantastic! I was so grateful and proud of my hard work, but by the time we hit the week leading up to Christmas, I was craving some serious down time. I not only needed rest, I needed to retreat. I needed a break from being “on”.
A couple of my friends, who ironically I am friends with through Instagram had already done or were planning to do a social media fast. I decided to do the same. I wanted to be totally present with my family over the holidays, I needed a break, and to be 100% honest, I was addicted to Instagram.
OK, this is me about to really expose myself here...the screen time notification popped up on my phone a few weeks ago and my average daily screen time was ...wait for it...
5 hours and 28 minutes!
5 and a half freaking hours a day! OMG!
Seriously, I was floored, but not really surprised. Here’s how it would go...post something for my business...respond to comments...
scroll, scroll, scroll. Work.
scroll, scroll, scroll. Work out.
Scroll, scroll, scroll. Work some more.
Scroll, scroll, scroll. You get the picture.
Clearly, I love Instagram. I actually have made amazing connections, not to mention lots of sales from social media, but the truth is there is also a lot of the comparison game going on there, and it is a HUGE time sucker! I’m actually surprised I accomplished anything with statistics like this. I started my social media fast on the night of December 23. I deleted the IG and FB apps from my phone. It felt so good. Like, r-e-a-l-l-y good.
Ashley Cox, one of the aforementioned IG friends, suggested having other things to do in place of scrolling, ie: cleaning out the closets. My chosen activity, aside from all things Christmas, was reading. I love reading, but have really fallen out of it, you know, because I have no time. Bah!
So, I started reading again and it was amazing! I missed this hobby of mine so much, but had no idea how much I missed it until I sat down and took the time to actually read.
I anticipated that I would go through withdrawal. That I would miss it. That I would be jonesing hard for the scrolling. I imagined those first few days would be like when I give up sugar every lent. Gah. I’d be irritable beyond measure. My family would want to run for the hills, BUT, I did not for one second want to hop on the gram.
I rechecked my daily screen time average the week of my fast...1 hr 58 minutes. And, to be honest, I blame part of that on my son whose phone was broken and used mine to play games and my ibiker app that runs while I go to spin class.
Regardless, the difference is crazy. Statistics aside, the most important part was how I felt. I finally felt like myself again. I felt like what I was doing was right because I wasn’t comparing myself to everyone else all day long!
Don’t get me wrong, I have learned so much from so many other entrepreneurs out there, but what I would tend to do is look at their feed and stories and immediately second guess myself. I would convince myself in just a few split seconds that what they were doing was making them successful, so I should probably do that too. The problem is, I’m not them, so what may work for them may not work for me. Also, I never really sat back and focused on one thing at a time. I decided I needed to do one thing, but quickly bounced to the next person’s feed and decided I needed to do that. It was like one giant game of pinball and my brain was exhausted.
About half way through my fast, it occurred to me. I sat on the couch with my husband and the words just poured out of me. I told him that I think part of the reason I spend so much time on social media is that it numbs my thinking. I am your classic over thinker and I have been told more than once by people who love me that I "think too much". Sometimes all those thoughts can overwhelm a person. Sometimes, it's just easier to check out. But here is the problem with that. Social media can start out as a mindless activity, a way to check out, but so often it quickly spirals into more thoughts. And more thoughts. So many thoughts that you're bouncing from thought to thought, so much so that you end up having no idea which thoughts are really yours. And before you know it you are tangled up in a mess of over thinking that leaves you feeling insecure, anxious, and unsure of who you really are.
My time off social media gave me time to rest and to think. Like, to actually sit in silence and think. Not overthink, but to think. Think my own thoughts, not somebody else's. It restored my confidence, it reminded me of what is really important, and it allowed my soul to recharge.
Friend, if you are feeling overwhelmed and run down, I highly recommend a social media fast. That comparison game snuck up on me. I was pretty sure I was immune to it until I took my break. I had no idea how much better I would feel just from taking a 2 week break, but really and truly, I feel completely refreshed.
Tips for Your Social Media Fast
·If you are a business owner, plan your fast for your slow period. Right after Christmas through January is a slow time in my business, so this was the perfect time for me. Also, be sure to announce it to your followers, so they know you’re not being rude or ignoring them.
·Delete the social media apps from your phone. This reduces the temptation to hop on while you’re in line at Starbucks or wherever you use social media to fend off boredom.
·Find one or 2 alternative activities, but make sure they are activities that feed your soul. I love reading and haven’t been doing it as much, so that is what I chose. My friend Ashley chose to clean out her closets. Pick something that you will feel good about doing and enjoy it...distraction free.
·Pay attention to how you are feeling throughout the fast. Specifically, tune into your inner critic. I will put money down on the fact that that mean old voice in the back of your head is a whole lot quieter than it is while you’re on a scroll fest.
·Create a plan for when you do rejoin the social media world. Otherwise, you might just fall back into old habits. We all know how easy that is to do. My plan...post in the AM, spend 15 minutes replying to comments, return at 4pm for 15 minutes. Done for the day. Also, I will be turning off all notifications from FB and IG. I need as little distractions as possible in order to be productive in my work and to be present with my loved ones. And, I will take a social media break every Sunday.
So, my biggest takeaway from my social media fast is that it is so easy to get swept up in the comparison game. And if you’re anything like me, you have no idea how much that game is sucking the life right out of you until you step away from it for a bit. You are an amazing person, but it’s imperative that you have some time away from the things that may be pulling you away from that realization. There is so much to be said for just stepping back from constant activity and allowing yourself to just be.
I’m happy to help you with your social media fast. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy fasting, friend!