Towards the early part of June 2020, I was feeling the severe effects of stress, overwhelm and burnout.
Part of it was due to the enforced staying at home during the current situation. (If you’re reading this a few years later, google what happened in 2020 that affected the whole world)
Part of it was the ‘hustle’ mentality that I believed was necessary in order to find my foothold in the online space.
But, in mid June, I’d realized that enough was enough. I couldn’t go on like this, without a break, without pause and without stopping to reflect on whether or not my work was making me happy.
And so, I decided that I’d take the last 10 days off from my blog, my social media channels and my work as a blogging coach.
I wanted to hit the reset button and reflect on a better approach to the whole concept of content creation and connecting with my audience.
- How to plan your social media break
- Learn to Breathe
- Find your true purpose
- Find Time to Read Deeply
- Stumble across Hidden Gems
- Forge deep connections
- Let go of Validation
- Learn where to focus your time
In today’s article, you will observe two sections.
The first part gives you tips on how to plan your own digital break from social media.
The second part will cover the significant benefits that I observed and you can experience too, as a result of taking a social media break.
You don’t have to follow all these steps all at once.
Do what works for you and see the difference it will make to your life.
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How to plan your social media break
Let people know that you will be unavailable
If you have an active social media presence and you have readers, audience members and clients who reach out through your channels, keep them informed.
I posted a message on my private Facebook community and also updated my Instagram profile to indicate that I’d be on a break.
If you run a large and/or active group or profile, see if you can get a moderator to answer questions on your behalf while you are away.
*Note: This isn’t mandatory; just a nice thing to do, especially if you have paying clients. Even they will understand your need for some time off, so don’t sweat this bit too much.
Let people know that you are off the grid
If you intend to take a complete digital detox, let people know that you are taking a break from all your devices.
In other words, you cannot be reached on e-mail or Whatsapp or messaging.
If there is an emergency (which is very unlikely) they’d have to reach you by phone.
My phone number is only for family and friends and I have also clearly indicated through repeated use that I do not answer Whatsapp messages related to the blog or my business.
Note: If you’re struggling with breaking up with your phone, read this book by Catherine Price: ‘How to break up with your phone’.
It’s absolutely phenomenal and will help you gently dis-engage from your phone.
If you’re using Amazon US, click on the link below to get a copy:
Uninstall social media apps from your phone
This is a very critical part of a social media detox.
Having the apps at your fingertips (literally) can tempt you to scroll through them idly when you have nothing better to do.
Take my suggestion and remove the apps from the phone.
Remember, you can always re-install the ones you need at the end of the detox period.
For reference, the only app I use on my phone is Instagram and even that is usually un-installed.
I only install it if I need to use the Stories or the Live Video features.
For more tips , this post may be useful: How to Declutter your Phone in 3 Effective Ways
Make a list of non-tech activities
You’d be amazed at how directionless you feel when you don’t have your phone to scroll through!
That’s the power of social media addiction.
Instead, make a physical list of things that you enjoy doing offline.
Keep it in an accessible place, such as the door of your refrigerator or next to your wardrobe mirror, that you’d see everyday.
Every time you feel tempted to look at your phone, walk over, read the list and pick an activity that you can do from there.
Here’s a useful list to get you started:
- Clean out a shelf in your wardrobe or walk-in closet
- Create a donation pile of unused clothes
- Clean the mirrors in your house
- Learn a new recipe from a cookbook
- Practice your music
- Play catch with your kids
- Go for a long, leisurely walk
- Cycle around the neighbourhood
- Read a non-fiction book (I recommend ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear)
- Read a fiction book
- Check the inventory in your kitchen, your pantry or your laundry room
- Do a load of laundry and deep clean your sheets and towels
- Wash the car
- Water the garden
- Get an indoor plant like a golden syngonium
- Organize your paper documents/letters and folders; discard irrelevant documents and sort the rest into ready-to-access files
- Play board games with your kids (I recommend Ludo/Monopoly/Snakes and Ladders/Taboo!)
- Wash your sneakers and make them look like new again
- Write in your journal
- Make something by hand
- Work on a home improvement project- maybe give a piece of furniture a fresh coat of paint
- Do some DIY decor work around the house (See the image below for what we did)
This was a beautiful idea that my husband had. He bought these hexagonal mirror stickers on Amazon.
When they arrived, we decided on a pattern and then my daughter and husband stuck it piece by piece to come up with this design.
I joined in by helping peel off the protective film on the front of each mirror and also suggesting how the butterflies could be positioned to give it a cohesive effect of flight.
Such a soulful activity that the whole family enjoyed and since we had to use our hands, none of us were holding our devices until after the completion of the act, when we took pictures of the mirror.
It’s in the foyer area so it’s a great decorative plus utility piece!
Based outside India? Check them out on Amazon.com here:
Save this post on Pinterest, so others can find it and follow the tips
Now that we have the ‘how to’ part covered, next we dive into the ‘why’ of taking a social media break.
Again, these are all the revelations that occurred to me as a blogger and business owner in this time and I may keep adding to this list as time goes by.
The beauty, though, is that every reason here could apply to you too.
Here are some reasons you should take a social media break and enjoy it too.
Learn to Breathe
In a world driven by frenzy, FOMO and hustle, we get caught up in the rat race of chasing numbers, page views, clients and stats that look good for our bottom line.
The trade off is that we suffer when we take all of that hustle to heart and experience significant overwhelm.
A social media break will help you slow down, breathe, take stock and evaluate what you want to do with the time given to you.
Find your true purpose
Do you know what actually triggered my decision for a social media break?
It was a wonderful mentoring session that I had with a close friend and successful business owner and entrepreneur, Rajendra Zore.
His untold story is highly inspiring to read and I urge you to do so.
He taught me to look at my work as a way to give myself joy, while simultaneously serving those who came my way.
He taught me to go back and look at all the content I had created over the years and study it to decide what value I was providing my readers.
In other words, what was that one thing that set me apart from other people in my space?
The idea of constant connectivity will take you away from asking these important questions.
A break from information overload through social media will help you assess and answer these questions fully and deeply.
In my case, I discovered it through a mentoring session and a group coaching Mastermind session that I joined in June.
Both these sessions helped me break away from the hustle mindset.
Find Time to Read Deeply
As an avid reader and bookworm, I am ashamed to say that I’d begun to neglect this integral part of my life.
Work or social media should never come in the way of the deeper enjoyment of things that make your heart happy.
For me, that’s reading.
If you’re the same, you can get back to deep reading again with any book that has been languishing on your reading list.
I’ve observed that my reading tastes have moved more and more towards non-fiction in the last couple of years.
Here’s a list of great books that I recommend in the non-fiction genre.
Stumble across Hidden Gems
I’m always struck by the idea of serendipity and the fact that the Universe is waiting to give you what you need when you are ready and receptive.
Towards the end of my social media detox, a friend sent me the link to an article on building an email list by George Kao.
I idly clicked on the link, started reading, sat up and continued to read until I finished it.
Then, I checked out his blog through his Medium bio, started reading more of his articles and even watched a few of his YouTube videos.
I then wound up buying not one or two but THREE of his e-books on Kindle!
To say that I am absolutely stunned would be an understatement.
George Kao is the soul coach and mentor I’ve been looking for!
He understands the deep need for authentic, soulful connection and expresses it the way I need to hear it.
Start with any of his books from the list below, but my personal favourite from the list is ‘Joyful Productivity’.
*Based in India? Here are the links to his books on Amazon India:
Joyful Productivity: A Solopreneur’s Guide to Creativity and Well-Being
Authentic Content marketing: Build an Engaged Audience for your Personal Brand
Authentic Selling: How to gain new clients through connection, caring and service
Principles of Authentic Business: Create a Sustainable Livelihood from the Heart
Forge deep connections
Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I’ve been on Instagram for the last 3 or 4 years.
I never really paid much attention to the platform before June of last year, because I couldn’t understand how to grow to 10k followers.
(Spoiler alert: I still don’t).
But an interesting thing happened when I started studying the platform. I knew that my audience was there and that they were keen on my content.
So, how could I connect with them, without worrying about numbers?
That was the intent with which I created and launched my Free Grow your Instagram course.
While I don’t promise phenomenal growth in numbers, I do teach you tips on how to soulfully engage with your audience.
Doing so has helped me build deep, abiding connections with people who are keen on my content and able to connect with it at a level that matters.
And the best part is that those connections extend beyond social media.
Going off social media will show you how deep those connections actually are; so take a chance and try a social media detox. You’d be surprised by the results.
Full details about the Free Course Here: How to Organically Grow your Instagram
Let go of Validation
One of the biggest challenges with working in the digital space is the idea that validation is available instantly and around the corner.
Unfortunately, validation is not equal to value, which is what many people don’t understand.
When you don’t take a break, you start imagining that you are the sum total of the number of likes you got on your last Instagram post or the number of comments you received on your latest Facebook post.
Take it from me.
Your likes do not equal your value and your worth.
Write this down.
Repeat it to yourself.
Remind yourself of this fact every single day like a mantra.
By the way, do you know that’s one reason I seriously love Pinterest? Because you rarely get instant validation from that platform. Every piece of content takes time to grow and it can take up to two years before a pin gains traction and takes off.
*Take my Free Pinterest Course and see what I mean (useful for bloggers)
Learn where to focus your time
I think the biggest benefit of a social media break is knowing that you now have all of this extra time available to you.
You then get a chance to determine how you will actually spend that time.
One of the first things I did was to make a list of things I enjoy doing- both offline and in my business.
Next, I determined how much time I could devote to my work and my offline life on a daily basis, to maintain a sense of balance.
Was I chasing too many areas of improvement in my business?
Was I spending too much time checking mails, messages and notifications?
Could I find a better system to organize everything without feeling burnt out?
How could I continue to engage deeply with my audience without feeling pulled in 10 different directions?
In other words, how effectively was I using the time given to me without feeling stressed?
That’s what a social media break helps you determine.
As we come to the end of this article, I want you to take a few minutes today to ask yourself the following questions:
What is my purpose?
How can social media help me align my purpose with my digital persona?
Do I need a social media break?
Once you have answered these questions, if you feel the need, go ahead and take a short or long break from social media.
There is no optimum recommended length of time I can say will work best.
Some people feel refreshed after a weekend away from social media. Others take 30-day detox sessions.
I personally took time away from social media from the 20th of June till the 29th of June (that’s 10 days).
You have to determine what will work the best for you and how much time away helps with getting you the perspective you need.
Whatever you decide, I hope that you cherish and value your social media break the way I have.