Today’s a special treat: the most beautifullest, bestest, brightestest person in the world is guest posting–my lovely wife. About a year ago, she took a 30 day break from Facebook and here’s what she learned…
Facebook is a Drug: 8 things I learned with my 30-day Detox
My birthday was in late July. How could eating ice cream 3 times in one day NOT make it the best day ever? Purple heart earrings from my little boys, love notesfrom everyone able to hold a pen, dinner and a movie with my best and forever friend, the day was perfect. As I got ready for bed, I jumped on my phone to say thank you to birthday wishers. Suddenly it was almost 2am without having written one single thank you.
I got distracted in clicking, reading, and scrolling. Social media is a drug; Facebook is a drug.
I originally drafted this post February 2, 2016, just days after taking the entire month of January off Facebook. I don’t go 30-60 minutes without just peeking in on my phone (who am I kidding, 5-10 minutes).
Since I obviously didn’t permanently learn my lesson from January, I dusted off these words to be a reminder to myself and anyone else who can let things get out of balance with their phone.
Here are 8 lessons I learned from taking a month away from Facebook.
- It silenced my mind—quieted the noise.
A typical day would have me on my phone during any downtime, just seeing what’s on Facebook, Instagram, or checking email.
I see a friend share an interesting article, talking about someone famous that I don’t recognize. I look that person up, and then check out what other movies they were in. Have I seen that movie yet? …oh wait. What was I doing?
Oh yeah, back to my newsfeed.
Oooh! There’s a new photo prop and aren’t those just adorable? Wow, that image is amazing. Who’s that photographer? Where does she live? How many likes does she have?
And now lately we have political debates and social/racial discussions and stories and tragedies. I feel exhausted when I put down my phone.
All these distractions. All. The. Time.
I didn’t know how noisy my brain was until I stepped away.
I had my 4th child a year ago now. For anyone who has travelled with kids, you know that plane rides can be absolutely evil. They are stressful and hard. Especially flying solo with 2 kids while pregnant. Between drinks and arguments and potty breaks and candy requests, you are worn OUT.
But when you’re flying by yourself, you can read or nap, or think or journal… it is bliss. A few years ago I flew by myself for the first time in years. I had forgotten how enjoyable travel could be when not surrounded by noise and demands on my attention.
Taking a break from Facebook is like flying without kids.
Without the badgering of information and emotions from social media, I have more mental space to LIVE my life. I can read a book, organize my closet, or cook a delicious meal. So many things I didn’t think I had time for were now possible.
- I had to face my problems.
With less distraction options, I had to actually deal with things. Why are my children disobeying, why am I always losing my patience?
And you know what? Fixing myself was uncomfortable.
There’s a bonus though. Change can be faster. Without the torrent of information rushing at me from Facebook, I sought out some Pinterest articles about having patience and not yelling and I actually READ them, not just pinning them for later because my mind was too full already. I found and READ organization articles and started implementing them.
Instead of carrying the heavy weight of my trouble and almost breaking from the load, I put it down and turned around to look at it.
I named it, and I began to chip away at it.
Sometimes the chipping dissolves it completely; sometimes I have to pick it back up for a while. But life is a lot easier when I’m dealing with my life instead of emotionally depleting myself for acquaintances or strangers.
- I had more time for my family.
Have you ever been on Facebook when a friend shares a go fund me link, about someone’s friends-older-brother’s-cousin’s-uncle whose wife died suddenly? After 30 minutes of reading their life story and campaign updates and imagining these young children growing up without their mother, I mentally wish them well, and are glad their goFundMe account is almost funded. Then I see a news story of a horrific crime multiple states away. Child left in a hot car, stabbing of a family member, or a destroying fire. Political events that cause my stomach to churn. Tragedies around the world.
While I’m reading all of that I may get interrupted by a child wanting another drink of milk, or the cries of fighting brothers. Or maybe the dishes are piled high waiting for me, or the guest bedroom is full to the brim with boxes to sort. Do I feel up for facing my own challenges?
I have drained my emotional bank account. What is left for those who matter most to me?
When I stop spectating other people’s lives, I can deal with my own struggles and challenges better. I have more patience and ideas to solve my problems. I don’t feel a victim to my circumstance. Even just a few days into my Facebook-free month one of my sons’ teacher at school commented he was doing much better emotionally in class.
- I had to stop wearing my badge.
In life today, it seems like a badge of pride to show how busy we have made ourselves. We have to list all the amazing events we attend, commitments we fulfill, responsibilities we shoulder.
But busy-ness isn’t an award.
At the end of the day, I don’t get a sticker on a chart, a badge to wear, applause from an audience just for the fact I am busy.
Working smart and being too busy are not equivalent.
Taking time off social media has helped me stop comparing myself to others or worry about what other people are doing. Just because Sally is painting her brand new gigantic kitchen and Cory is saving money by fixing his own car and Ella is making home-made valentines this year, doesn’t mean you should (or can) do all those things.
Time off social media helps me calibrate to the pace my life should be, instead of trying to run a marathon at a sprinter’s pace.
I am in my own race.
- Important things will eventually get to me.
Most of my current events info comes from Facebook. When Professor Snape passed away that month I was off Facebook I felt sad that I was probably missing beautiful tributes or articles. But for the month I was off, through news stations on the elliptical at the gym and news app on my phone, I was staying just as current as I was before.
Occasionally people reached out to me with exciting personal news since they knew I wasn’t on Facebook that month. It actually felt really special. I wasn’t using messenger, so I sent emails and texts and actually called some people.
I wasn’t burying my head in the sand.
Still very connected to the world and Internet, I didn’t have to feel left out. I was just curbing my Facebook addiction.
- I found more time for myself.
I had a whole list of things I hoped I could get done in January. While I didn’t get the whole house organized and lose 10 pounds, I got all my baby girl’s clothes organized and decluttered, and almost done with the boys. I lost 5 pounds, and still enjoyed frequent treats of ice cream and chocolate. I sewed a baby skirt for a photo shoot with no pattern, making it up as I went. I made my own pattern for this cute gray photo prop sitter outfit out of tissue paper measuring my baby girl.
I felt empowered and excited at what I could accomplish. I could take on the world.
- I can find distractions anywhere.
Though I may have been off Facebook and getting things done, Netflix became a great distraction for me. Sometimes I could be productive and deep clean the kitchen while I listened or watched. But more often than not, it was a pure Netflix binge.
Productive? Nope. Fun? Absolutely 😉
So I have to be careful to keep a balance. Anything that takes me away from a healthy life balance is not in the right proportion.
Will I stay off Facebook forever? I don’t plan to. I have a photography business that needs interaction. But I can be more balanced with both Facebook and any distractions that sacrifice the most important things.
- I don’t owe anyone an explanation—and I don’t have to get approval.
Sometimes I worry about not being available on social media. I saw an article a while back that one week off Facebook crashed their business page interactions completely. But while interactions will probably be less, I still booked sessions the month while not being on social media at all.
If people wanted to get ahold of me last January, they could text/call/email me or contact my hubby. A few concerned friends emailed/texted — they thought I was having a breakdown or something. On the contrary, I had planned a month beforehand that this was going to be my time off. I listened to my gut (and dear husband) and knew I should take a breather.
Is anything taking over your life right now? Give yourself permission for whatever is best for you. You don’t have to get anyone’s approval for taking a social media vacation.
Are you ready to silence your mind? To face your problems with energy and have more time for your family? As you stop wearing your busy badge, yet still staying connected to the world, you’ll find more time for yourself and whatever is most important to you. Distractions can be anywhere, so be a careful curator of your emotional bank account. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of shaking things up to find a healthier you.
So what are YOU going to do? What detox would you like to create for yourself? I want to hear about it below!