Taking in consideration the stress level increase due to the pandemic situation across the world, I’ve decided to review some of my habits in order to improve my mental health. As you may have seen already there are some quotes that mentions we become what we feed our minds, so I took this into consideration and started noticing what kind of things where present in my routine that were contributing for the increase of the stress level or getting myself into a dark / tired /senseless mood or giving sleep problems.
One thing that really caught my attention was how much social media was present in my routine, which I was spending around 1 hour a day on Instagram and some couple of minutes on the other apps such as Twitter and Facebook. So I asked myself,
“Why am I spending so much time in this digital environment watching people’s lives or watching them trying to sell me products, and in the end of it I’m not even feeling fulfilled or even happy about that? What are the outcomes this is bringing to my life at this moment?”Jan Purisco
The answer was: None, in the overall majority it was bringing much value to myself and I needed to take a decision upon it.
I couldn’t just stay offline forever, everything today is about digital and sometimes we need to establish communication with someone or search for a specific type of information. So to avoid any radical changes I decided just to remove the apps from my phone and then I would just login through desktop/laptop, decreasing in almost 80% of its usage. The reason behind this number is because usually when I am using a desktop/laptop I am working or studying so I’m way busy to have a space of boredom to be filled by social media.
As I removed the apps from my phone, numerous times I saw my finger trying to reach to the place where it used to be Instagram icon, this way feeling a strange sensation on my mind as I lost something.
While accessing social media through desktop/laptop the User Experience is way different then in mobile where we are used all movements and shortcuts and besides that the access to a desktop is way more difficult while being on the street or any social activity or in transit . In a great number of studies (I won’t list them now) we can see the addiction in social media happens due to stimulation of dopamine on the brain while changing the topics and visuals.
From my first week with the usage decrease of social media I could notice the following differences in my routine:
Notion of the environment
Since I was not facing my Phone Screen or keeping myself “busy” I had more time available and I was searching for activities that were forgotten before due to “lack of time”. Some of those were nothing really productive but were things that bring me happiness, such as playing video games, reading books and comics, listening to music, watching old movies etc.
This way I could enjoy more my activities without any interruption and have more fun during my day! This is an important aspect when you have a stressful day, what would you prefer, spend your free time watching other people or having fun? Of course having fun will make you feel better by the end of the day.
Sleep quality increase
Somehow it was easier to sleep, I believe because my mind was not being stimulated before going to bed with all sorts of information such as politics, corona, cars and others, all of them without any relation just random topics appearing every second.
My sleep also go more stabilized and I could have better dreams, but this is something particular on my side that I can’t say it will be applied for all since we have a great number of variations for each person.
Interaction with others
Of course my interaction with other people increased, just think about how much time do you spend on the cellphone while having a dinner with someone or a group of people, or even on the Gym. It seems we are forgetting about people around us and just focusing on the digital environment where people are contacts, interactions and messages.
Increased sense of purpose
Having more free time made myself look for things that I like to do, even if it’s related to self-improvement which demands energy and thinking, this way increased my sense of purpose in life because I had more objectives. A very different situation compared to spending a considerable amount of time in social media having the sense that others are having a better time or better achievements than I.
Finally I was focused in living just for myself!
Decrease of stress
While consuming useless information about things that I wasn’t looking for or that I don’t have any sort of control over the situation, my stress levels were increasing and I was feeling overwhelmed since I couldn’t do nothing about it or because these type of things were not part from my current reality.
Removing this stimulation on my mind and giving myself the power to look for the information that I wanted to read gave me more peace of mind and focus while consuming the information I was looking for.
Productivity and Focus
Everybody wants a lifehack to be more productive and be the best where they are, you can all achieve that with or without social media usage, the point here is how much it is affecting yourself by the end of the day. Remove the apps from your cellphone and you will see how many times a day you try to reach them. This behavior can make you tired by the end of a stressful day, since you are handling multiple activities and also checking social media for more information to give you “pleasure” of mind.
So what should I do with Social Media?
In my opinion, I believe the best way to not let social media affects your life is to define its purpose, Why do you have it and Why do you want to keep looking into it? For example, some people my use to increase their relationships with people, others to improve their business and others to just show themselves.
Every why or reason to use social media might be valid since you don’t affect your mental health or offend others while using it.