Sunday, 20 December 2020

How to Have an Online Detox

As I mentioned in my Where Have I Been? post, I had to do a big online detox for the sake of my mental health. In this post I'm not going to delve into what caused me to take this action, this post is designed to help others do the same.

I initially was just going to take one week off. I had done this in October 2019, I was feeling triggered by certain posts online so came off without warning. I felt so much better, and had a clearer head after doing this, that I still have changed the way I use social media to this day. I just had not done enough. Since last year, I turned off notifications from social media apps so that when I pick up my phone I'm not bombarded with notifications; I find it sometimes very overwhelming.

1. Pick a duration for your detox

I have previously found that a week is a good amount of time, I just think it depends on the circumstances for the break. In both cases for me I had variations of mental/emotional breakdowns, however my most recent episode was very strong; therefore needing more time away. In the end I spent one month completely away from social media.

2. Delete all social media apps from your phone (check that you've backed up apps like WhatsApp to easily reinstall later)

For this to really work you need to delete them all. If you're worried about certain people needing to contact you, then inform them that you won't be accessible via that platform and perhaps then contact them just through text messages. Remember, that part of this is being away from your phone, so it might be good not to have it blowing up every few minutes. Pick your key people. I only let one friend know beforehand because I spoke to them the most, and saw them almost weekly. I didn't want to message everyone, because I didn't want everyone to know how much I was struggling. I didn't want questions or sympathy, I just needed time.

3. Stop news notifications

I found that the onslaught of Covid-19, Lockdown updates and US news was frying my brain. It's information that is easy to obtain within a few seconds, but I've tried to keep it all at an arms length. There's many worldwide events and movements that I'm invested in (for example Black Lives Matter and the protests in Nigeria), but I needed to fix myself before I could help and support those causes. 

4. Resist the urge to head over to social media platforms on computers or other devices 

I am the worst for procrastinating during work, and quickly opening a new tab and heading over to Twitter to scroll for 20-30 minutes, losing precious productivity. I am so happy that I have resisted this old habit, and I have been so much more productive; I spent a good week applying for 20+ jobs and researching either for jobs. 

Even after I checked my messages on my social accounts, I did a really soft return to social media. I didn't want to have a relapse straight away and be back at square one. Even now, I'm getting better at scrolling past negative and triggering posts. Not letting that energy take over my brain. I'm just about ready to come back to my activism, my heart and mind has never been as heavy as this year. I really want to try and give as much support to causes I care about, and help the fight for true equality. 

With the festive season upon us, I think it's a really important time to have an online detox. Whether that's the week over Christmas, or just the day itself. It's so damaging to compare your Christmas with others, especially when we might not be with our families at all this year. Personally, I'm either going to be offline for the whole day, or I might just post photos with Connor and his family, and our Christmas meal; nice and easy wholesome content. 

Let me know if you've done something like this before, or if you're willing to give one a go! Honestly, there's nothing like a clear social-media-free mind. You can't buy that kind of clarity.

Stay safe x

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