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Do you love social media? Do you feel it has an effect on your mental health at certain times? I tried out a social media detox; read below to hear what I learned about my time management, mental health, and how my perspective of social media changed!

I love social media. I’m afraid you won’t understand when I say I love social media. I can spend hours scrolling through Tik Tok or looking at funny memes on Instagram. However, I am also extremely aware that my mental health gets affected when I do spend too much time comparing myself to people on social media and that I sometimes spend one too many hours scrolling. So, when I was asked to complete a 3-day social media detox for my stress management class, I was both parts excited but also nervous as to see how it would play out.

Day 1:

In order to stay accountable to my detox, I promised my friends that I would not send them any memes starting today and that if I did, they had full authority to get mad at me. I went cold turkey and I decided to delete the Tik Tok and Instagram app off my phone first thing in the morning. At first, I did catch myself checking my phone and automatically hovering to where the apps would be. Yet, I didn’t feel anxious when I didn’t have the apps! I decided to use this time to get ahead on some class work, do some laundry, and other chores so I didn’t think of my apps too much and took full advantage of the extra time I had (I even took a nap!). Surprisingly, the hardest part was actually when I was going to bed. I typically scroll for an hour while I’m laying down, so to not scroll felt so weird! On the plus side, I got extra sleep but it really was a strange way to go to sleep. Overall: Day 1 was easy, but day 2 will be interesting. 

Woman staring at phone at night
Photo by mikoto.raw from Pexels

Day 2: 

I won’t lie, day 2 was tough. During pandemic bordeom, all I want to do is check my social media and I actually felt the withdrawl. I catched myself, wondering if I was missing out on anything or if anything had happened. But I am determined to stick to my commitment. I used some of my time to go on a (socially distanced!) walk at the forest preserve by my house and try a new recipe. One thing I realized is that I didn’t feel obligated to take a picture of the forest preserve for my story, I just got to enjoy the walk! It made me wonder, is that our new motivation to try new things? For the positive reinforecement we get when we post? Is there anything that’s actually important enough to post? I took today to really evaluate my reasons as to why I have social media and whether or not I want to go back once the three days end. If it’s taking so much of my time and I feel obligated to post just for other people’s enjoyment, is it really worth it?

Day 3:

Today was the last day of my social media detox and ironically the easiest. I had a somewhat busy day of virtual class, homework, and chores, so I didn’t have too much free time to scroll through my social media. But, I did realize that I don’t really need social media. The day goes by perfectly fine without knowing what people are doing at every instant. My close friends even checked up on me to see how it was going, which I really appreciated.

Overall, what I learned is that despite how nice it is to scroll on social media, I didn’t need to constantly show my life on it. Social media was taking up so much of my time and made me feel obligated to share my life with people who don’t need to see it. It feels as if it removes boundaries. I also learned that my real friends do check on me even when I’m not connected to social media and it really helped put friendship into perspective. Overall, it was nice to take a break, as it helped me reevaluate the boundaries and role that social media had on my life. I no longer see it as a way to communicate, but more as an occasional passtime and hobby. I did re-download it, but I made it a point to now post what I want, when I want, and only as much as I want to share.

Hello, I'm Dania! I'm a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago studying applied health sciences. I've always loved writing but I'm finally breaking out of my shell and sharing it with the world. In my free time, I love to travel (I've been to 27 states and 9 countries) dance, read, and try new foods. Check out my personal blog at dayswithdania.weebly.com!
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