Since turning off 90% of my social media accounts last week and with the weather warming up, I feel like I’m on extended holiday. No impending posts, no insta-stories to keep up with, no “engagement worry”, just free space for my brain to rest and recover from all the excess cortisol build up.
My last session with my clinical phsychologist was a good one, we decided instead of talking through problems to start finding solutions, positive activities that I could add into my life to help me “feed my soul”.
More self care.
The end result of a long conversation about outdoor pursuits etc was that perhaps I should go on a digital detox. I was not keen at first, as this meant losing momentum with my blog on instagram with gaining exposure, followers and “insta cred”, but after some discussion, I realised what was going on. I had allowed my Instagram account to consume me. The internal pressure (escalated by my anxiety and my need for validation/acceptance) was so intense it was like a buzz, a “high” to get on my account and check things, load things up and make sure I stayed relevant and up to date with what was currently trending and engaging in discussions.
I was exhausted just thinking about all the effort I put into it.
Also, the brief discussion with my therapist revealed that one of the main contributors to anxiety and depression is the use of social media. So basically if you are a sufferer, try stay off social media more often or permanently. It is akin to an addiction, the treatment is very similar. The response in your brain is IDENTICAL to drugs, so why wouldn’t you do a detox and see what difference it makes? Why wouldn’t I dive at the chance to change my life, possibly permanently for the better?
I had a brief chat with my hubby that evening and he was totally on board, so I dived right in. Initially we said I would do two weeks, but now I’ve decided to extend it to 21 days. This length of time is the time it takes your neural pathways to heal and create new ones. So it’s like forming a new “habit” of being offline, besides set times of day for my work (Naturcare sales). I can already feel a difference in my physical body, nevermind my brain. I have time to concentrate on my kids more, time to think more deeply about things, time to just sit and relax, time to read a book, time to be outside and I don’t feel like I’m being sucked down an online vortex of cortisol spikes.
So practically my detox looks like this:
I have removed the following apps from my phone
- Repost App
- WordPress App
I have temporarily disabled my blog insta-account (to stop me from sneaking on there and getting sucked back in)
My husband has released me for the 21 days from all my business social media responsibilities (I manage his two accounts)
I am allowed to check my emails and my personal facebook and my Naturcare facebook only twice a day for 30 minutes each time.
I am allowed to write on my blog, schedule posts on my blog and schedule posts for my Naturcare Facebook
I am allowed to google and research topics of interest/hobbies.
I know this may seem extreme, but when I started looking at the amount of time I spend staring at my phone, scrolling endlessly through feeds, trying to post stuff, trying to keep up and the frustration I feel when my kids interrupt me in this process, this severe shut down is necessary. I need to go cold turkey, and let me tell you it hasn’t been easy. I still find myself checking my phone, unlocking the screen to see if any messages have come through, constantly carrying it around with me, it’s only in the last two days that I’ve started leaving my phone in the house when I go outside to play with the kids, I even left my phone at home when I went grocery shopping today!
I don’t think we realise just how much this device has changed the way we function and interact with the world around us, just today my friend pointed out to me in a restaurant a young couple with a small baby (around 7/8 months old) sitting in a baby chair grabbing each sauce bottle off the table and opening it up and putting it in her mouth, spilling sauce all down her front. She did this with three different bottles while both parents where glued to their phones. Imagine if she’d got hold of Tabasco, or the pepper grinder, these parents wouldn’t have know until it was too late and their daughter would be coughing and possibly vomiting everywhere or worse.
Constantly being glued to our screens as parents, presents a “distracted parent” to our children, it also harms our brain and our physical body eventually more than we know. The amount of cortisol and dopamine that our bodies release in response to messages/replies/comments on our feeds equates to the same as a hit of cocaine, and it takes 48 hours of ZERO SCREEN TIME for the levels in our bodies to return to a normal level after just a couple of hours a day, which for the average person isn’t the case.
But before I get carried away, I just wanted to get down on paper what I’ve experienced this last week, so I can compare it with the weeks to come.
It hasn’t been easy.
I have struggled with guilt, shame, sneaking online on my PC, feeling relaxed and full of hope, finding new hobbies to try, then feeling guilty again. It will improve with time, and I will get out of the habit of constantly checking my phone. I will discover that my value and worth do not lie in the notifications, but in connecting with real, authentic relationships. Being present, honestly present in my kids lives and hopefully, on the road to recovering some of the brain strength and stamina I once had.
Watch this space for the next installment!