21-days without social media?!

I decided at the end of September that I needed a BIG break from social media: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, even email. I had been noticing for a few months that I was getting just a tad obsessive about checking my phone or computer whenever I was bored at home or had a few spare moments where I was waiting in line, got to an appointment early or even waiting for a file to save or a webpage to load...I'm not kidding. My addiction was getting way out of hand and I knew it. So I knew I had to do something about it!

It takes 21 days to create a new habit and break an old one, so I sat myself down, wrote down the guidelines of my "Mind Cleanse" and decided on my start and end dates: August 1-21.

Yep, you read that right! THREE WEEKS!

Here were my guidelines:

  • no Instagram

  • minimal to no Facebook time (15 mins ONCE a day)

  • no YouTube

  • only checking email once a day

  • going to bed before 10pm

  • no TV or devices after dinner

Before I began on this venture and decided on the dates, I had NO idea that the Olympics were during that entire time....so even though I had written one of my guidelines to include no TV after dinner, I didn't count watching the Olympics with my family as going against the guideline. Mainly because I was spending time with my parents and pups, enjoying the amazing feats of the Olympic athletes.

My main goal for the Mind Cleanse was to obviously break my addiction to social media and my devices, but it also included making time to connect with friends, family and MYSELF.

So how did it go??

RESULTS OF THE 21-DAY MIND CLEANSE:

I was actually delightfully surprised how easy it was to go without Instagram! The first few days were tough – I found myself wanting to take a picture of what I was eating or where I was exploring, but instead I actually just enjoyed the foods or the places and experiences without worrying about taking a perfect photo to share. It was a breath of fresh air!!

The minimal Facebook time wasn't an issue either to be honest. And again, I was surprised! Creating a time constraint for myself of 15 minutes max helped me stay super focused instead of wandering around various group pages and clicking on friend's pages and other things in my news feed...landing me an hour or two later wondering what the hell I just did!

For YouTube, I go on it almost every morning for my wake-up yoga practice so I was ok with not watching video after video then. The time I was concerned about was later afternoon and before bed, which is why I also included "no devices after dinner." I slipped up a few nights to be completely honest! I was having a really hard time emotionally and wanted to watch something funny and uplifting, so I turned to the Tube ;)

As I was watching some videos, I did reflect on how I "needed" YouTube videos to help distract me and help me feel better. Awareness is always the first step! I did this a few times throughout the 21 days and instead of beating myself up for it, I witnessed my reliance on something outside of myself to lift me up when I was feeling low, then forgave myself and spent time showing myself love and compassion. I asked myself what would serve me even more than watching online videos or TV shows and discovered that there were SO many other options! Journaling, reading, listening to music while I color in my adult coloring book (you BET I have one! And it's awesome), doing yoga, going for a walk, working out...these activities all served me on such a higher level than distracting myself from my own reality with someone else's or an entirely fictional reality. Instead of running away from my fears, worries and other emotions, I could actually let them move through me, feel them deeply and release them in a way that is healthy and leaves me feeling empowered and even just a tad better; moreso than I can say for watching endless YouTube videos! Granted, watching things online is fun at times and I'm not saying to never watch movies, TV episodes, random videos of sneezing pandas or a singing cartoon Rastafarian shark :P because it's nice to enjoy a silly moment, share laughter and share an overall experience with others! When we are using movies, TV or online videos to escape from our lives, THAT"S when it becomes a huge issue and I advise you take a deeper look at what you are trying to escape from. And please PLEASE be gentle and loving with yourself during this process my friends!

Email was easy peezy...and I've actually taken this concept (and a few others such as FB once a day, 15 mins max) beyond the cleanse and into my daily life. I also really loved creating a device-free zone in my room before bedtime and was doing this a few years back! But with my computer five feet from my bed and my phone serving as my alarm, it gets really hard to not be tempted to "check that one thing." If you're anything like me, you find yourself looking up an hour later and way past your bedtime!

Overall, the Mind Cleanse was a wonderful learning opportunity that showed me where I had been slipping up and how to clean up my side of the street. I feel great about the new habits I've formed AND the old addictions I've broken!

If this has inspired you in any way, I hope you do your own Mind Cleanse! If I can break old habits in 21 days, that means you can too :) create your own guidelines and remember to have lots of self-compassion and forgiveness throughout this process because it's hard!! BUT IT CAN BE DONE! Say goodbye to those nasty old habits and your life will change for the better, I promise you.

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