“You can not pour from an empty vessel”
There are many conversations about mental health and social media..and yet they are brushed under the rug. It’s no shock to anyone that social media, and technology in general takes a tool on people, yet it’s a part of our everyday lives. The scariest part is, I believe most of us don’t even realize what it is doing to our psyche.
The big companies who run social media brainstorm and implement ways every single day to make us more addicted. And if you don’t believe me, go into to public and count how many people are looking at their phone verse talking or watching their real life take place in front of them. It’s a cold truth, one that makes me truly unsettled. People are more concerned with getting a picture of their favorite outfit, snapping a picture of a scenic view, and immediately posting. Did they even take it in..or did they just snap the picture to show off and walk away?
I don’t think social media, namely Instagram is evil. I do think though it has become a place that fosters negative things however.
Can you live without it?
Having a blog and hoping to make my living with that and Instagram..I had to have a real heart to heart with myself. The ugly + scary kind. I had to look myself in the mirror and ask a question that I have been terrified to answer. “Can I walk away from this?”
It struck me..the fact that I even had to ask myself this meant there was an issue already. The constant checking of my phone, the comparison of “likes” and followers, even though I preached that I didn’t care and I truly felt like I didn’t. Subconsciously..it was creating a realm of anxiety and panic. I’ve dealt with depression my whole life, and let me tell you, it’s easy to slip back into it. The endless scrolling and “keeping up with the Jones’s” demeanor of social media doesn’t help.
It took me a year of these icky feelings..of these ups and downs, of feeling like something was off to finally bite the bullet and admit, social media is anything but healthy for me.
My week long experiment.
Last week, I had a breakdown, or rather, a break through. That week at church, they had talked about listening and truly listening to yourself and God. They spoke to the fact that we as human beings go through life putting bandaids on things, on giving our selves a pep talk when we should give ourselves a break, on saying yes when we should be saying no. It hit me and it stuck with me. I couldn’t shake it, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that THAT is how i’m dealing with social media.
I decided to take a week off from social media, and truly I had no idea if I would ever return, I just knew I needed to breath. I posted a huge collaboration i’d been working on and been ecstatic about on Monday..and then I disappeared.
I deleted the app off my phone. And instantly I felt a weight lifted. On the surface, I didn’t have to stress about keeping up with about 100 notifications an hour..but it went much deeper than that.
Something shifted in me. My confidence went up, I felt lighter emotionally, my anxiety levels went down. I felt happy. I was there with my fiance..I was present when I went shopping, when I made dinner, when we watched movies..I was there. I wasn’t half thinking about this fake world of Instagram.
My happiness levels went up, and my stress levels went down. And that has to mean something.
Why social media detox’s are bandaids..AKA they don’t work.
Now, it would be beautiful if that little break reset me, and I was fresh and ready to go back on my grind of Instagram + blogging. But this time is different. This time, I didn’t need a break. I needed to break it. To break up, to break it off, to break it in half. I have to rethink everything with how I use this app..especially because this is an integral part of my livelihood.
I’ve learned a lot..and yet have only scratched the surface..but here is what I know to be true.
- You can not use social media without consequence mentally, but you can control how you use it.
- social media isn’t going anywhere, so you either have to figure this out, or not even take part.
- Social Media is an APP..an addicting one, but none-the-less it is not real life. The term “highlight reel” is legit.
- You can not use social media without knowing yourself, being confident in who you are, your purpose on there and your intentions. Without knowing that..social media will control you.
This leads me to why I am even writing this.
I know I’m not the only one who struggles. I know i’m not the only one who has fantasized about deleting the app and saying goodbye forever to this “time suck”. I know I’m also not the only one who uses it for something bigger than themselves…I started my Instagram to inspire, to spread positivity, to connect, and I have done that successfully. Yet it’s drained me. It’s pulled me away from what’s important in life. I know i’m not alone there. I placed my accounts well-being above my own…mistake #1.
My well being is always going to be placed WAY high above anything I gain from using social media. No amount of money from a sponsored post, no amount of followers, no amount of prestige will ever be more important than my mental + physical health and me being present in my life.
How to balance it?
I haven’t found an answer for this yet. I have an answer for how I plan to do this..but I wan’t to make one thing very clear. If I try my hardest to balance things, set boundaries, and take care of myself, and social media still causes me a mental unbalance..then I have already accepted that I will cut ties.
If you feel like you’re drowning in the negative aspects of social media..and you want to turn that around here is what I suggest:
- Take a break. A real break. Delete the app (not your account) and forget about it for a few days..a week is a good amount of time to clear your head.
- Ask yourself this: Why do you use it? What do you gain from it? Is it helping you or hurting your day to day life? Be honest with yourself.
- Set boundaries. This one is HUGE. Put a time on your phone for how long you can use the app. DO not check it in the morning or before bed. Carve out time if you want to use it, but don’t feel obligated if you don’t. Don’t obsessively check. Turn off notifications. Put your phone away when you’re with family and friends, even if they don’t.
I know this seems like I am just bashing Instagram and social media in general. I am not. I have met incredible people on here..and so many doors have opened up for me. That is why I am on a journey to regain my balance..because having a platform for my voice to be heard is a gift, and it shouldn’t cause distress.
This is just my take on things, my experience, my quick story about my break and my reasons..hell this is more of a rant than anything..but if you want to read a really great article that dives deeper on this subject, I highly recommend this article from Gather Co UK.
Tell me…did any of these point hit home?
If you want to talk – connect here or drop me a DM over on Instagram, i’d love to chat about your experience with social media + mental health.
Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this post! It’s 100% how I’ve been feeling this week as I try to “grow.” I’m with you in trying to navigate what is healthy and what isn’t!
Thank you Hillary for taking the time to read it! I’m so happy it resonates with you.