Nowadays, social media is so accessible and whenever we have nothing to do, we will be using our electronic devices. It’s crazy to see how research shows that teens (perhaps some adults too) spend 9 hours a day on their phones and that some teens check their social media up to 100 times a day.
I was with my partner at the gym, doing a free health fitness test on a machine. The last part of the test involves sitting down to record our heart rate for 3 mins. We are supposed to remain calm and relax during the recording. Only half a minute passed and he said “I feel so useless just sitting here doing nothing.” That’s when I realize – we are so used to doing something every minute that doing nothing becomes the most difficult thing to do.
Earlier this year, I started incorporating time for social media detox and developing simple detox habits which I can keep to. I find it really healthy for my mind and body – because mental stress will eventually translate to physical aches and pains. Here’s a few tips if you are interested to try social media detox but not ready to delete Instagram or other social media apps from your phone yet.
1. Go for a painting session
There are many research that shows that art is therapeutic to the mind and soul, helping to cope with stress and depression. You do not need to have artistic talent to paint. There are plenty of numbered canvas painting where you are guided to paint using numbers. Take it as a session to slow down for a moment in life, regulating your breath as you paint.
2. Put your phone far away from your bed
The intention of this is not to check social media the moment you wake up. Letting your mind and body settle and wake up naturally without any distractions is such an important habit that I try to keep to. Putting my phone alarm far away from the bed allows lesser snoozing, and once I am standing up and walking, I will make my way to the bathroom straight to wash up and get ready for the day. Once all of that is done, I will then sit down at the dining table with my phone to read the notifications. And if you know you are very attached to your phone and even putting it far away from your bed is challenging, get a real alarm clock (recommended by my teacher). Try it for a week and see how you feel.
3. Switch off notifications & set a time each day to check social media apps
Lesser notifications, lesser distractions. You will be able to focus on your daily work and tasks without having your phone ringing every 5 mins notifying you that someone liked your IG photo. Set a regular timeslot to check your phone for notifications. Always start with a routine that works for you first. If you are so used to checking your phone every 10 mins, checking your phone only twice a day will make you very miserable and it will not be sustainable. Start off with only checking every 30 mins or 1 hour, and lengthen the time gradually. During that timeframe, check in to see if you are having feelings of anxiety because you can’t touch your phone. Acknowledge any feelings that arises. After 1 week, see how you feel again. You may be surprised at how you feel after 1 week of keeping this habit.
5. Play real games
Sudoku, mahjong (yea!), Word Search, fixing jigsaw puzzles etc. Any game that challenges the mind will be good. Mindless scrolling of social media does not work your mind at all, and most of the time make you feel sluggish or demoralised at the end.
6. Exercise without your phone
Ditch Spotify once in a while when you exercise and let the sounds of your surroundings be your playlist. Listen and look mindfully around you, you may find something new you have not noticed about your exercise place.
7. Sit down and breathe for 5-10 mins each day
“Aren’t we breathing every moment?” maybe this thought came across your mind. Yes we are breathing every moment, but how often do we observe the way we breathe? Taking time to pause, do nothing except to breathe is a new habit I incorporated recently. Slow down to clear the mind. If it is challenging at the start, one thing I learn from my teacher is to play a calming song (with no lyrics) and just close your eyes to breathe. The length of the song is how long you will sit and breathe. Eventually try without music.
8. Read an actual newspaper
Facebook, Telegram etc became the place for us to get updated with the world. Whilst it is convenient and fast, there are also other distractions in the phone while you are reading. Putting your phone away for at least 20 minutes to catch up on daily news is a good break for the mind (less multi tasking).
9. Schedule a no-social-media trip
Ahh.. Just did this recently and I am appalled by the number of times when I am searching for my Facebook or IG only to realise that I have deleted them from my phone for a 4 day Christmas holiday. I end up watching TV, reading book, clearing my phone gallery and email inbox and many other non social media things.
Have fun trying the tips above! Hope it works for you