I have a confession to make: I have never done a fast. I have been hearing about them my entire life and I know a lot of people who have fasted over the years. My Christian friends fast to seek healing, for Lent, to find wisdom, to break an addiction, to draw close to God. My Muslim friends fast during Ramadan to build their resilience and to give more to those less fortunate. Even my secular friends fast on occasion for their overall health and wellness. Fasting is an integral part of many religions and cultures. I felt it was time for me and it was becoming rather obvious what it was that I needed to fast from:
The plan was simple- give up all personal social media for a week. Take the time and energy I normally use on social media and put it towards seeking God and spending some time focusing on my mental wellness. I was not sure what was to come out of it, but I was hopeful for some breakthroughs. I had no idea just how good it would be for me!
Here is what came from a week’s detox from all personal social media. Here are some reasons you may want to do a social media detox as well!
- It Cultivates Self- Discipline and Self- Control
When life gets hard it is easy to look for an escape. For me, social media quickly became a distraction from the realities of my day to day. If my kids were being needy or hyper and I was worn down I would start aimlessly scrolling through Facebook. If I was overwhelmed by all the cleaning I needed to do, I would turn to Instagram to see what was beautiful there instead. What should have been once a week phone calls turned into all day every day texting conversations. And when we were faced with another health challenge I would quickly dive into extensive research via the internet in hopes that I could resolve our issues. It was obvious that my interaction with social media, as a whole, had become unhealthy. I was in desperate need of self-control! Try this experiment: For one day make a note on a piece of paper each time you reach for your phone. I believe most of you would be surprised by just how frequently you check it without even fully processing what you are doing.
There was a 60-minute episode that aired recently talking all about how major technology companies are working hard to keep us addicted to our phones, computers, television, and their various apps. I don’t know about you but I do not like the thought that a company is controlling my behavior. Just as I teach my boys all the time- I need to exercise self-control. I want to be in control of my own behavior and actions. The first couple days was a lot harder than I expected. I found myself reaching for my phone frequently, but I took that as an opportunity to build other habits. Each time I found myself reaching for my phone I would pray instead, or sit down with my kids for a minute, or instead of texting a friend actually call them. With each day I found myself reaching for my phone less and engaging in worthwhile activities instead. I was cultivating self-discipline and self-control!
- It helps to break the cycle of comparison
It can be hard seeing the absolute best of everyone’s life day in and day out. Our daily life will never look as appealing as the other person’s vacation to the Caribbean. It will never look as exciting as a new born baby or a great job promotion. One of the many issues with comparing your life to others is it leads to depression and dissatisfaction. When I stepped away from social media and began to have phone conversations with friends instead of texting and spend more time with people face to face I began to see, once again, how complicated everyone’s life is. Friendships are not meant to be a place of competition and comparison, but of support, encouragement, and joy. It was beautiful to take some time to remember that.
3. It reduces your exposure to EMF
Research is verifying what a lot of us have been suspecting. Constant exposure to cell phones, wifi, smart meters, and everything else emitting electromagnetic radiation is having negative effects on our health. It is especially damaging for our kiddos. Mommypotomas has a great article discussing the dangers of EMF exposure. Spending less time on your phone is wise strictly from a general health and wellness standpoint. I mean less radiation is always a good thing right?!
4. A lot less negative comes into your life
This one was surprising to me! I never realized just how much negative news and attitudes I came across daily on social media. Between people’s complete lack of filters, constant manipulation tactics being used on social media and the extreme over-connectedness we have to minute by minute sensationalized news my days were being filled with one stressful thing after another. It was a breath of fresh air to take a break from all of that. I was able to control my news intake by choosing just how much time I spent reading about current events. We all know that constant negativity is bad for us emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Just like we need to surround ourselves with people that are good for us we need to have boundaries in place with social media that are good for us as well. Now that I am not interacting with places like Facebook as much there is a lot less unnecessary negativity in my life and that feels great!
5. Providing space to feel, to grow, and to hear God
The most beautiful thing that came out of my fast was the time it gave me to heal and grow. You see my week of social media detox coincided with my Little Bear’s 5th birthday. This one was a hard one for me! It marked 5 years of me being very sick. It marked another major milestone for my son that made it all the more obvious just how delayed he is. It was a week full of depression, grief, and mourning. I needed this week desperately and if I was still using social media as a distraction I would not have faced what I needed to. Instead of venting to Facebook I vented to God. Instead of turning to social media I turned to my friends. Instead of reading online articles I read books that spoke to my heart. The beautiful thing about morning what isn’t is that it makes space for celebrating what is.
6. You discover what is great about social media
I know I have covered a lot of the negative sides to social media, but there are also some amazing aspects to social media that my fast helped me to appreciate more! Now I am sure this list will be different for everyone one, but I would bet that each one of us has had great things come from our use of Facebook, Instagram and the like. Instagram has given this stay at home mama a creative outlet with my food. Both Facebook and Instagram has brought some of the most incredible people into my life. I now have friendships that will last a lifetime that would not be there if it were not for social media. They have helped me stay connected to all those I love who do not live by me. Facebook groups have helped me find the practitioners I need and have provided me with wisdom and insight I would have had a hard time finding otherwise. And social media has provided a space for me share with you what I am doing here. They provide space for me to rejoice with those who rejoice and to mourn with those who mourn. There truly is a lot of good that can come from social media if I have proper boundaries in place.
All in all, I would say that my experience with fasting was a beautiful and life changing one. Taking a break from social media was the best choice I could have made. My life is richer because of it. I hope that my journey inspires you to try a fast from social media. Or maybe it has sparked an idea within you to take a break from something else. Whatever it is, I hope you go for it and please share with me all the wonderful things that come from it!