What happened during my instagram detox? Lots….
I wanted to write a post to address the questions I’ve been getting about my time off from using instagram. I know I don’t owe it to anyone to justify how or why I did this, but I feel like it’s important because the things that came up need to be shared for those ready to listen.
I started my business Instagram @thymeandjoy right before we left Hawaii to move to Charleston. I had no idea what I was going to do here so learning about Charleston through instagram and making friends and growing my business was the goal. With a lot of work, I can say that I reached all of my goals and I am in a very happy place with my business and my friendships here.
But … I got addicted to instagram.
I began sharing a LOT of my world, especially through stories. I received lots of feedback both positive and negative and it became a HUGE part of my day. The problem with growing this way is that there were SO many other things happening. We bought a house, got a dog, started a business and lived through all the ups and downs. With all of these life changes happening simultaneously with sharing, I began subconsciously growing with other peoples reactions in mind.
I love sharing my life and always have. It’s a healing way for me to express myself and connect with others until it gets to be too much. I hit a strange rough patch recently where I worked myself out of my own mind. I was super busy by my own will, saying yes to everything and also tried to control everything in my life including my food and weight. I battled with major disordered eating which tends to get worse the more I am stressed.
Luckily for me, my hair started falling out. This was a sign I needed to slow down and things needed to change. I stopped dieting and my whole world shifted for the better. The more I scrolled through instagram, the more confused I was on my beliefs. Still, I kept sharing and sharing until one day I popped on and couldn’t handle it anymore.
Everything I saw was making me feel like I had to be put into different camps or diets or lifestyles or labels and it felt like I was trapped. I needed a break like no other so after 1.5 years of constant addictive Instagram use, I decided to take a few weeks off for REAL.
I wrote my last post and deleted the app off of my phone and promised myself that I wouldn’t log in and scroll because I needed to heal on my own merit and not through watching the lives of others. Here’s what happened during my instagram detox.
What Happened During My Instagram Detox
- I was introduced to eye opening TED talks and a book that changed the lens on how I view social media: My friend Shree who was brave enough to take a sabbatical as well led me to some important literature about social media. It all boils down to this, its terrifying. Social media was admittedly designed to keep consuming information about you from third parties in order for you to spend money and/or shift your mind to believe something or help you KEEP believing something whether it is true or false. Social media is a known addictive behavior modifier that changes our relationship with society and how we view and interact and “connect” with fellow humans. This is aside from the fact that a LOT more than we realize or want to believe is fake and/or created by bot accounts. You can decide how you feel about it all yourself, but seeing it all from this lens made me appreciate the perspective and be super conscious of my own addiction and how it was making me feel and react.
- Life Changing Book: 10 Reasons to Delete Your Social Media Accounts Now
- TED TALK: We need to Re-make the internet
- TED TALK: Why our screens make us less happy
- I had more REAL TIME: I know you all think that if you weren’t scrolling that you would have more time too. But what I mean is that I had more QUALITY TIME and ENERGY. We may think we are being totally innocent by having our feeds full of just food and dogs and smoothie bowls and happy things, but our brain has to process EVERYTHING. In real life we are never subject to that much information about someones life at once. I watched the stories of at least 50 people each day and my poor subconscious brain was on overdrive constantly not including everything else going on in IRL. It was amazing to see a different kind of time and energy open itself up when I didn’t realize so much of it it was locked up in the first place.
- I had addiction remorse: I remember the 2nd day of my detox, I had a total “IG worthy” day. I went to the gym, cooked for a Whole30 client and I also had coffee at a cute cafe downtown with a friend. I actually felt anxiety about doing something and NOT posting about it. The amount of times I glanced at my phone to do a story was unbelievable. Why did I need to be seen so badly? I was upset that it mattered that much. Scratch that, I was straight up ashamed. From that day on, I decided that I wanted to connect with people in places that were amazing and really practice the act of nobody needing to know what the fuck I’m doing constantly. Its freeing!
- I had black-listy days where I felt isolated and lonely: Without quick hits of validation, it made those days where I didn’t have a lot of communication with others feel sad, lonely and isolating. I followed this worry-hole all the way down to the point where I straight up thought that some of my friends were annoyed with me and our friendship was over. Even though that isn’t true, it lead me to realize that maybe some of my friendships weren’t actually friendships if they didn’t survive an instagram detox. I’m still pondering this one… I began to understood that the way we connect in friendships has changed. There are best friends, IRL friends, instagram friends and weird categories with their own set of silent guidelines. It’s a lot to keep up with… Anyway, this was a catalyst for me to reach out to others and make plans, have lunches and other types of conversations through other forms of technology. I connected more deeply with people that really mattered instead of thinking I did.
- Old memories started floating up: Sadly, I became the type of scroller that scrolled even when I had 30 seconds waiting on a checkout line. I scrolled in between doing my makeup or when a commercial came on TV(netflix). I scrolled at stoplights or when I pulled up to the place I was going. Eliminating all of this was nerve wracking at first, but after a few days I noticed old memories started coming back. None of them were particularly painful and most of them actually made me smile or even caused me to learn something about myself. The point is that scrolling was numbing my brain from remembering things that happened in the past…. and that’s pretty bad.
- You’d be surprised how much ENOUGH truly is: When people say social media is a drug, it’s because it truly is. The dopamine hits you get after checking your likes, comments, engagements, followers, trolls, retweets…. is keeping you coming back for more. I noticed something truly special about my time off. I was enough and I was doing enough. Sometimes positive praise and comments are just as paralyzing as the negative ones. Even though I vow to be myself 100% of the time, I can truly say that some of the time my actions, decisions and what I decided to share were based on the full scope of REACTION whether it was negative or positive without even realizing it. When you live your life as if nobody is commenting on it then you truly get to feel what it means to just be enough. This is the most powerful thing I’ve learned as of late.
- Numbing the bad also numbs the good: When we numb our time outside of our own lives on something, it’s usually because we’re hiding from a feeling we don’t want to face or it’s because we’re out there creating evidence for the negative beliefs we have about ourselves or our lives. “Well, I can’t do THIS because I don’t have THAT!” What we often forget when we numb out is that we’re not just blocking the bad, we’re blocking the good. For as many weird painful things that came up during this time, many more positive simple joys of life came up too. I’ve learned that it’s better to face ALL emotion then to not face any at all.
Halfway through this detox I kept complaining to my friends that I didn’t want to “go back”. I know many people may think that I wasn’t ok during this time, but the reality is I am much better than before.
When I am faced with a challenge, my instinct thought is blanketed with an all-or-nothing black or white mentality. The truth is that I don’t have to give my ALL back to instagram, but I can give some. What I choose to share and how deep may vary.
I will most definitely be setting some boundaries going forward and when I notice myself slipping, I know that I can back away without my life falling apart. This whole experience opened my eyes to so many things about life and myself that I would’ve never had the capacity to learn if I had stayed on the same path. For those feeling stressed, overwhelmed or like you’re not matching up to others, I highly recommend a real break to re-prioritize whats true in your life.
Valerie Skinner is a Whole30 approved personal chef & recipe developer that bridges the gap between healthy eating and busy lives by providing simple healthy meals and recipes for you and your family.