I love social media. Despite experiencing an occasional sprinkling of negativity from those I like to refer to as ‘trolls’, I have a remarkably positive relationship with it and would encourage people to engage through it.
Whilst I haven’t yet dipped my toe into the unknown waters of Snapchat or the calm tranquillity of Pinterest, I do regularly engage on Instagram, Twitter, Linked in and Facebook. And, now that I have an internet based business, coaching and supporting people to be their best-selves, social media is a necessary part of my job, the perfect platform to share my messages and attract new clients.
With so many positives, why would I choose to take a week out and indulge in a social media hiatus. As is the case with most of my hair brained schemes, it wasn’t a moment of clarity, it was more something that evolved over time.
We were on holiday in Lanzarote a few weeks ago and I turned to my son Finley who was busy scrolling on his tablet just as we were about to go for dinner. ‘Finley, please put that down now, we are going to dinner’ I said. I added a challenge to the ask by including ‘why don’t you take a break from the tablet for the whole day tomorrow, you don’t need it.’
Finley is ten and is getting rather smart with his retorts. ‘Well Mummy, I will if you will. Did you know that the average adult checks their phone more than 12 times every hour?’
Yikes, he had me with that one. I could have done the ‘I’m an adult, I can make my own decisions’ thing which would have been extremely irritating for him to hear I’m sure. It wasn’t something I liked hearing as a child. Or I could ‘have a taste of my own flavour’ (as the kids say) and do the same thing I was asking him to do.
And so, I agreed to a 24 hour ‘no phones’ period, which of course meant ‘no social media’.
That one day break turned into two and without much thought quickly rolled into a whole week social media free. The break was welcome, like a total shut down from the outside world and it opened the pathways, allowing creativity to flow.
I had three big realisations during the break..
- REAL connection is the best kind of connection
I love social media because it helps me connect with people all over the world and I’ve built friendships with some remarkable people. It can though, impact the connections with the real people in my life. I have lost count of the times my husband or children have said something to me and I’ve only half heard it because I’ve been scrolling for example. (sound familiar?)
Without the interference from social media, my husband and I had amazing conversations whilst lying on the sun-loungers. I’d usually spend this time scrolling, posting, reading blogs and listening to podcasts but without my phone I couldn’t do these things and so we chatted. We chatted about our ‘to be’ lists, what was important to us, where we would like to be in a few years time, the experiences we would like to have and what we have learned that has helped us to grow. We spent time talking through ideas for a book we are writing and this gave way to some lightbulb moments. We connected, fully and wholeheartedly. And it was the same with the children, deeper conversations which led me to discover so much more than I might have done had I been glued to my phone.
2. External validation is not required
When you come from a place of low self-worth, external validation and constant affirmation plays a key role in the feel good factor. It was a ‘must have’ in my life for a very long time and it’s only been through deliberate practice of reinforcing positive self-affirmation that I’ve been able to slowly move away from the need for it. What I realised during the week away from the ‘likes’ pinging on Instagram is that I don’t need it to make me feel good about myself. I feel good about myself without it. Proving that to myself has been useful and it’s demonstrated the giant leaps I’ve managed to make.
3. I enjoy lots of other things and I can have them all to myself
By freeing up time from posting and scrolling on social media, I remembered my love of and had time for reading, rather than just listening to books. I read an actual book, covered in sun-cream and I developed that satisfying ache in my hand from holding the pages in position. I did some writing too, something I have missed since finishing writing my own book, Enough. And I spent time developing concepts and ideas that I have had for a while but haven’t had the headspace to think through. We also had some magic moments on holiday. Special things that the four of us enjoyed without feeling the the need to share them ‘on the gram’. My social free world was a place of creativity and calm.
Add to this amazing sleep and two very happy children who had a fully engaged mummy on tap, it proved to be a very useful week for me. It was like a gift to myself and I returned refreshed, revived and raring to go.
I’ll definitely be repeating my social media break and would encourage everyone to try it. It’s the perfect act of self-love.
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