If I’m being honest, it has taken me a while to feel up to writing this blog post. The truth is, despite all my progress, I have realized in the past few weeks that my relationship with social media will ultimately always be something I will need to work on.
While deleting my social media for an entire month definitely allowed me to decompress, live in the moment and gain back time, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. Like with any addiction, maintaining a healthy relationship with technology, specifically social media, is a constant work in progress. We all have good weeks and bad ones. But I think the main takeaway from this entire experience is that I finally have the ability to recognise my feelings. Overall, I have become much more aware of how and when social media is beginning to negatively impact my mental health and I’ve gained the strength to be able to put it away or turn it off when it no longer serves me.
This blog post will be structured like a diary entry. My goal is to talk you through my feelings and my experiences after deleting social media for an entire month. It’s my hope that in opening up about my personal struggles and journey, it may inspire you to look deeper into your relationship with social media and make changes in your life if they are needed.
How It Started
Truthfully, before becoming an ‘influencer,’ I never really had an unhealthy relationship with social media. It wasn’t a part of my day to day life and I was extremely focused on my career and relationships.
George was actually the one who started American and the Brit. He created the account before we left on our world trip. The goal was to use it as a way to show our family and friends our adventures on the road. Once George and I began travelling and creating content it transformed into a fun hobby for us. We never once took it too seriously on the road, and our growth from capturing our incredible travel moments came organically.
If I am being honest, I truly felt like the two of us had found an extremely healthy balance between creating content, whilst still really travelling and seeing the world. A balance I know other travel couples often struggle with. We were proud of this balance and we were having a total blast. Traveling gave us incredible views, locations and unique perspectives we were able to capture, which helped us stand out and grow. Little did we know our trip would ultimately be cut short due to the pandemic.
I would say that my anxiety and depression surrounding social media really only became heightened due the pandemic. During the pandemic, I would log onto our social media and feel sad as I watched others continue to travel, whilst I sat indoors. In many ways I played the victim, and felt like it was totally unfair that just because we were choosing to follow health and safety guidelines, our growth on social media was suffering. I watched as other travel accounts continued to grow and travel creating epic content in locations I had only dreamed of visiting. In the end, I had gotten in a total creative funk and felt like the only way to grow was to travel. I found myself spending upwards of 6 hours a day scrolling and feeling emotions of total inadequacy.
With all that said, my screen time is what ultimately motivated me to delete my social media. I opened my phone and saw that on average I spent 6 hours a day on social media…. 6 HOURS!! In doing the math that’s 91 days of my year, nearly 3 months that I was plugged in and tuned out to the world around me. I began to think of how many more productive things I could be doing with my time. So I decided to take drastic measures and delete my social media for a full 30 days.
Deleting My Social Media
Deleting my social media came at a great time for me. It happened to be my last month at home living with my family before my move to London. I felt like it was the perfect opportunity to turn it off and enjoy and live in the moment with my parents.
I went ahead and deleted all social media apps. Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat and Twitter.
My goal was to see how much more time I would have, if I would become more productive, and if my mental health would improve from eliminating social media completely.
The first week without social media was way harder than I had even imagined. I wasn’t expecting to have real withdrawal symptoms from it. Honestly, I continued to reach for my phone and caught myself numerous times trying to click on the apps that were no longer there. Thinking about all the things I was missing out on and still had anxiety surrounding it. I was also feeling physically tired and drained. I took naps regularly and often felt a lack of energy.
Despite all this, my goal was to get myself into a healthy early morning routine. I wanted to wake up at 6 am each morning and make the most of my days. Although the first few days were tough I was able to achieve this wake up time by the end of the week and I was proud of myself.
In week two, I continued to focus on maintaining my morning routine and incorporated a regular workout plan as well. I wanted to take care of my physical health and get outside to exercise. I made an effort to get out at least once a day. Whether it was to take a walk on the beach, or go on a canyon hike in my neighborhood, I made sure to get fresh air. I also turned to journaling and reading which was great. I never used to be much of a reader, but I was able to finish 1 book per week which was a major accomplishment for me.
Distracting myself with exercising, eating clean, reading and journaling helped me to keep my mind off of social media. I found myself thinking about it less than week one and knew that progress was being made.
Week three was definitely the week I noticed the most change and felt a turnaround. I was beginning to feel significantly better both mentally and physically. No longer was I missing social media and I began to think about how I would come back to it with a different mindset. I made a promise to myself that I would limit my time to at most 1 hour a day since I knew a lot of my time on it was required for work.
This week, I began to recognize that the reason I was on it so much was that I was trying to fill my boredom. I would reach for my phone and mindlessly scroll through Instagram, or Tik Tok when I felt bored, but in reality there were so many other productive things I could be doing with my time that would benefit me in the long run!Exercising, reading, getting outside… all things that helped me more than seeing others travel.
This was also the week I began working on my project, The Conscious Life Club. Being away from social media inspired me so much that I wanted to come up with a way to help others who were struggling like me. I sat on a few calls with professional psychologists. We talked about my idea and decided to develop a course to help teach others how to have a healthy relationship with social media. I threw myself into research and spent my time reading articles about the correlations between depression in adults and social media. It was a great way for me to fill my time and give back.
On week four, my focus was really on enjoying quality time with my family. It was my last week home before moving to London and I wanted to make the most of it. I spent my days at the beach with my brother, and having dinner with my parents/grandparents.
This week I felt like a totally new person. I no longer felt reliant on social media which was such a great feeling.
Spending time with my family was just what I needed to fuel myself and round out my month with no social media.
At the end of my entire experience I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I was no longer basing my self worth on arbitrary numbers and realized that I would return to social media with a more mindful attitude.
Deleting my social media gave me more time, allowed me to live a more present life and indeed helped to improve my mental health.
I realized that creating content and taking photos really was a hobby. It is something that brings me so much joy when I do it for myself and nobody else. Feeling the pressure to create unique content and post it daily was too much pressure. Moving forward I promised myself that I would only go out to create content when I felt inspired and not put the pressure to post consistently just to ‘grow.’
While I feel like I have come a long way. I know there is still so much more room for growth. To be brutally honest there have been moments where I feel like a bit of a failure. Watching other accounts similar to ours still travel and grow has been difficult. Comparison is toxic and I am working on it constantly.
What I can say is that limiting my time and having the strength to recognize my feelings has been life changing. I am proud to say my current social media screen time is at 2 hours and I hope to maintain this moving forward.
If you, or someone you know struggles with anxiety, or depression surrounding social media I encourage you to join The Conscious Life Club. This supportive group will be there to help you as you navigate your relationship with social media.
For more blogs like this be sure to check out our Keep it real page here!