DIGITAL DETOX / a month of unplugging
I find myself contemplating and arguing the place of social media in my life very often. What is the purpose of it and does that have a healthy impact on my day to day - or it is a toxic relationship that silently steals joy and instills fear? A lot of my work and a lot of the incredible people I have met through She is Visual was sparked by connecting dots online - however, if we don't navigate this online space consciously and carefully - it might be more harmful for us than we can see on a surface level.
When my fellow wellness-warrior friend and holistic health coach, Caitlin, decided to do a digital detox - I was excited to check in what the fruition of unplugging was for her.
Read her outlook on her digital-less month of May below.
If you had to write your own definition of ‘digital detox’ - what would it be?
To allow oneself to fully unplug from social media.
What sparked your need to go offline?
I found that I had fallen into an unhealthy habit : wake up, log on, explore and then after a while I'd find that more often than not I'd wasted more time than I had originally desired. I also began to notice that there were days I felt a sense of anxiety welling up inside of myself. Upon more enquiry, I asked myself ' what is driving this feeling' and it always came back to the 'not enough syndrome'. Social media is a fantastic place to acquire a quick dose of inspiration, particularly if you love visuals but it is also a place that is often incredibly polished, it allows you to only read certain 'chapters' of a person's life and it is predominantly a depiction of perfection. Often we are left with a feeling of comparison which leads to what I like to call the ' not enough syndrome'. Whereby we end up silently comparing where we are in our lives, jobs, health, relationships to a perceived 'truth' of what we are being fed through social media. I was listening to a podcast just this morning and one of the sentences that drove it all home for me was, ' what face do we spend most of our lives looking into, the face of our phones' this both jolted me awake and saddened me in the same breath, because for so many of us this is tied up in so much truth. All day long we obey our phones. In short, I had to some extent lost myself in a world that was not real.
As with a physical detox, we often experience ‘withdrawal symptoms’ at the beginning? Did you experience withdrawal symptoms and how did you take care of it?
Yes, I really believe that there can be a 'detox reaction' from being 'offline'. What I noticed in myself initially were moments out of habit, boredom or just plain curiosity that I would reach for my phone only to remember that these were the exact reasons why I was doing this detox. To break a habit. To counter moments like this, I promised myself I would explore other areas of my life that I had maybe not invested as much time in, in those 'in between moments' of my day. I chose ( we always have a choice ) in those moments of habit to rather read my book, strike up a conversation with my husband/ friend/person in the waiting room, paint, write or simply be.
Can you imagine your life without social media completely? If not, why do you feel like that?
I would like to think I could be without social media but I also feel that to some degree it is one of the biggest ways we market ourselves and much of our world is online these days. However nothing is impossible and If I ever got to that place where I felt I needed to be without it, I think I could make it work. This is a question I believe I will keep asking myself ...
How did you feel after the detox and how did it change your ‘relationship’ with the online space?
After the detox as well as during I felt a real sense of 'lightness' about myself, like I had fresh eyes for things in the world around me. I felt like my inspirations were more genuine and not dictated by something I had seen online. It also made me realise that it really was the being ' online' so much that lead to the root of much of my physical angst. I realised that I needed to find a way of engaging with social media that was healthy for myself personally and that I needed to put some sort of structures in place that would better serve me.
What advice can you give on daily habits that will nurture a healthy relationship with social media?
What I have found very helpful is to have a rough schedule and time frame for social media : twice a day, for 10 minutes, love a few people up, see what friends are doing or write a post. Then get off. If I didn't getthat post out, there is always later in the day or tomorrow or maybe not at all. This takes some doing and I have by no means perfected it, but It is something that I have found far more healthy than aimlessly wandering the streets of instagram.
Bring an awareness to why you are logging on or posting : ask yourself the questions of : am I bored? am I just in an uncomfortable situation? am I procrastinating? Is this something I really want to say/post? ask yourself why, as sometimes I feel social media is our way out from things that we don't really want to address.
I try not to log onto social media first thing in the morning but rather let the routine of the morning roll out.
Myself and my husband are trying to implement a no screens policy in our bedroom.
In your opinion, what is your biggest positive and biggest negative of social media?
The positive about social media is the ease of access one has to like minded people and accounts from all over the world, many of which are hugely inspiring.
I believe some of social media's greatest negatives are the ability for it to fuel comparison and distort reality, which I believe ( if left unchecked ) can lead to massive emotional and social decay in relationships . It can steal conversations, as so many of us would rather be on our phones than talk to the person next to us in certain situations.
Do you think you will repeat this detox and if so, how often do you think?
I do believe I'll repeat this detox. When, I am not sure but I feel that I will know when it is time to unplug again.
In your opinion, if one would like to 'filter' the people you follow on Instagram, which criteria can you use to make sure that the people you follow has a positive impact on you?
I believe a good question to ask oneself is ' is this account / person serving me in a positive way'. It's not about thinking you're ' superior', it's merely about becoming really honest with yourself regarding the type of information, imagery, or conversation you want to fill your life with on a daily basis. Many of us don't like to admit that the things we often enjoy aren't necessarily the best things for us, social media is one of those things that I believe we need to start becoming really honest about and just how much of a role it plays in our lives.