About a month ago, my husband and I went on a trip to Florida and I completely disconnected from work – which included social media. As an artist and business owner, I get overwhelmed by the pressure to produce content. I’m an introvert, I’m not active on my personal Facebook account, and I don’t even have a personal Instagram account. I genuinely don’t think I would be on social media if I didn’t run my own business, so you can probably imagine how hard it is for someone like me to stay on top of her social media responsibilities!
Taking a break was what I needed and when I shared on my feed that I’d be going away for awhile, I received comments like, “that’s unheard of!” and “reading your post about taking time off reminded me I can do that too.” These comments made me realize how much we all need a break, that it’s 100% okay, and that I really needed to share my experience in depth to help those in my community give themselves permission to let go and take a breather.
So, I came up with a few reasons I think you too should take a break from social media based on my personal experience.
Do it for your loved ones
I’m starting with this, not because I think it’s more important than doing it for yourself, but because this is the shorter of the two. I think both reasons are equally important!
Whether you realize it or not, your social media use impacts those around you. The first and obvious example? When you’re on your phone when your loved ones are around. I don’t think I need to elaborate on this much more, it’s pretty obvious. When we are distracted by physically being on our phone while with others, I’d argue they don’t even get half of our attention. We gotta get back to making the people with us the number one priority, instead of the people not with us.
I’ve also found that even when I’m intentional about not being on my phone when I’m with my husband, my brain still tends to wander towards that weird DM I got, or how that one post didn’t do as well as I had hoped, or why it feels like my growth progresses in a two steps forward, one step back pattern. These are all minor things that become major in my head when I get too consumed with my phone. So, even if Luke (or anybody I’m with!) were never to even see my phone, they’d still have a more distracted Lauren and they deserve all my attention, not just a fraction of it.
Do it for yourself
There are two sub-categories within this section: your mental health and your spiritual health. I know technology and social media affects our physical health too, but personally, this wasn’t one of my reasons for taking time off, so I’m not going to share about that today. If your physical health is being impacted by social media, it’s important to recognize that and make the necessary changes you need to! But, below are my two big, personal reasons for taking time off from social media:
I mentioned briefly how social media affects my mental health in the “Do it for your loved ones” section, but I’m going to expand on that. Not only is social media a distraction, but it has an impact on the way we think about the world and ourselves.
Negativity: There is a lot of negativity out there, whether in the form of articles re-posted by others, internet trolls with rude comments, or even taking in too much information at once can affect us negatively. It definitely has a big impact on my mood and outlook on the day or life in general, so it’s important for me to be aware of that.
Addiction: We also need to constantly be aware of social media addiction and keep that in check. It’s a real thing. I continue to see articles and videos warning us of that risk. I heard someone mention once that if you can’t go a week without social media, you’re addicted. That was actually the comment that made me want to take a week off from social media. Personally, I needed to know where I fell on the spectrum and I’m thankful to say I had no issues being away from my phone for a week. I want to continue to have a healthy relationship with social media so I will continue to keep my use in check.
Comparison: I think we oftentimes forget that we’re viewing other people’s lives through a lens – literally and figuratively. We all are only showing people the parts of our lives that we want people to see. Everyone has the right to keep certain things private and make other things public. Some people are more honest about that than others, but regardless, we have to be careful about comparing our lives to others. We just don’t ever know the full story!
I have shared with my community about my struggles to pray and study the Bible consistently. When I look back on the past six years of pursuing a relationship with Christ, I’ve noticed that that struggle became much more of a problem when I received my first smartphone as a college graduation gift from my parents. I’m not blaming my parents or my phone… I’m thankful for the gift and the convenience of owning a smartphone, but now that I know this, I need to take responsibility for my actions – or lack thereof. I’m going to start by setting boundaries and sticking to them. I’m not sure what that even looks like yet, but I just needed to say that here for accountability! I’m a woman of my word and wouldn’t want to tell you I’m working on something I’m not!
And, to conclude, I suppose spiritual health could go in the “Do it for your loved ones” section too (God deserves all our love!), but the section I’ve placed this reason in isn’t what’s important. The important thing is that we need to take time away from social media if it’s affecting our spiritual walk. Time away helps us clear our minds, remind us what’s really important, and gives us a fresh start when we return to the social media world.
Applying this to your life
This blog post is already getting long, so I’m just going to end with a couple bullet points to help you apply all this to your own life and successfully step away from social media for a week, a month, a year, or forever if it’s right for you!
Things you can do to effectively take a break from social media:
- Turn off all notifications on your phone
- Delete your social media apps or hide them temporarily. (You know how you can have multiple pages on the iPhone home screen? I hide my work and social media apps on their own page/screen in the very back so I can’t see them.)
- Schedule your posts to post automatically… or don’t! You decide! I chose not to, because I didn’t want people to think I was ignoring their comments while I was away.
- Have a friend you trust look over things once a day just in case clients try to get ahold of you while you’re away – I’m talking to you, small biz owners! It’s super easy and will really help you have peace of mind during your social media vacay.
I hope this post helped you in some way or another. There is so much more I could say, but this post is already longer than I planned. Just remember that you make the rules when it comes to social media, not Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, social media experts, or algorithms. I’ll say it again, you make your own rules when it comes to social media use. When you need help keeping your social media use in check, repeat this phrase to yourself and it just might help bring you back to reality when things are getting overwhelming or out of hand:
Is social media serving me or am I serving it?
Thanks for reading!
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Written by Lauren Ibach // Edited by Kiley Bennett