The Benefits of Taking a Social Media Break

Social media break

 

“Let me give you a wonderful Zen practice. Wake up in the morning… look in the mirror, and laugh at yourself.” – Bernie Glassman

Before I kick off this post, I want to take a moment to acknowledge that I do actually recognise it is a little counter-intuitive to be writing a blog post on the merits of not writing a blog post…!

Especially for someone who makes their living connecting with others online.

But – in a weird way, that’s the whole point.

Regardless of how luddite-like we want to be (and I know some mega-technology ostriches!), the online world is well and truly part of life.

And while there are many wonderful benefits to the ever increasing technology advances, there are also some pitfalls. For me, the biggest one seems to be my inability to switch off. This drives my stress response – and not in a good way.

I decided to take full advantage of a recent trip home to New Zealand for some R & R to check out of my social media connectivity for a few weeks. Well, it started out as 3 weeks, and grew to 4 because I was enjoying my freedom!

In the interests of transparency, I should mention that I’m a coach in the SAD to AIP in 6 e-program. While I turned off all my notifications for Facebook and Instagram, and stopped my blogging, I did have some online commitments for the initial 2 weeks of my break. I tried to limit these to one hour each morning.

I also had coaching clients via Skype, so there was some work activity.

Otherwise, I was focused on being in real time in real life…

Here’s what I discovered…

FOMO

Fear of Missing Out is a real thing. And social media feeds this fear. In the first week of my self imposed social media break, it took a conscious effort not to just ‘check in’ on what was happening in my feeds. There was a very irrational urge to make sure that I wasn’t falling behind on what was happening in my little corner of the inter-web.

And then, in week 2 I realised just how ridiculous this was. I got over myself. I rationalised that my nearest and dearest could contact me should there be an emergency and I started to really enjoy my time off line.

I had more time

MUCH more time, in fact.

An unexpected bonus. When you’re in the belly of the beast that is social media, you overlook just how much time it sucks out of your day. And when you actually analyse just how much time you spend on social media, it can be pretty scary.

It was a very important lesson. As a result, I have resolved to compartmentalise some of my technology-based work habits. To work smarter (not harder).

I was more present

When you are not staring at a screen, or even thinking about staring at a screen, you look around. You take more notice of your surroundings. You are more engaged in the moment; and with the people you are with. And, you don’t even really have to work at it.

And, you don’t have to be an expert to recognise that this can only be good for you.

Your brain has the space to create

Paradoxically, checking out and switching off provides your brain with more space to create. It is almost as if you are free of the mind-clutter that comes with the constant bombardment of images and news, and this in turn gives your brain the impetus it needs to generate new and exciting ideas.

___________

I enjoyed my time out from social media so much that I’m committing to doing it more often. 

Of course, I’m happy to be back, too. And, there are some really wonderful advantages to being able to connect online. 

For me, the lessons are in knowing my limits and in creating some good habits that serve me. I rather suspect its the beginning of further experimentation…

 

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Comments (4)

I agree with all of those statements. I had to turn off 2 winters ago because of health issues, mostly insomnia. I hoped that reducing my online time would help my brain relax and allow me to stop the hamster wheel each night.

I can’t say the vacation had the desired effect, but I did notice how much more time I had to pursue other interests such as doing volunteer work.

I would also add that FOMO was not only a problem for me but that my contacts seem to think I should be available to them constantly or worse, they seem to think they are the only ones in my life who send me images and jokes, so they spam me inadvertently.

Since my vacation from being online, I had never resumed my blogging with the same frequency and dedication I had. I keep wanting to get back to it but my new pursuits seem to leave no time for that.

Hi C – thanks for sharing!

I understand the insomnia! Isn’t it so debilitating (not to mention frustrating)? – It’s one of the primary reasons I took a break, too. And, along with other things, it helped.

You observation about your contacts made me smile. It’s why I turned off all notifications. As I get older, I am (slowly) learning to care less about making myself always available… Hard lesson!

I frequently take mini-breaks from social media… then have to deal with the fallout from others who are angry that I didn’t see their fb post, or didn’t respond to their “urgent” fb message (they have my mobile number!). I just let it go, and I make sure that everyone knows I am not social media reliable. 😉
I’m glad you are feeling well-rested Jo and I look forward to catching up again soon. 🙂

You are zen, Melanie! (singing the theme song to Frozen as I write this…)

🙂

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