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Journal

Simple ways to start and stick with a social media sabbatical

The world is in two minds.

One half hell-bent on using technology to ‘improve’ every single aspect of our lives, despite whether it’s necessary or not, and the other determined to reverse the negative impacts technology is having on our physical and mental wellbeing.

There is no doubt that technology has its positives–new technology has enabled jobs and education, provided support and connection, and saved lives–but, when it starts to distract us from our purpose, to cause problems in our relationships and begins to cost us more financially than we can afford, it becomes dangerous. The average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online, we use our phones to wake us up, to navigate, to work, to connect with friends/family/colleagues and even to relax. It’s not surprising that experts are warning us about the negative health impacts this constant exposure may be having.

For many, young people in particular, one of the primary reasons for spending too much time glued to devices is social media. It therefore comes as no shock that Facebook and Instagram have released a tool that allows users to track the amount of time they’re spending on the apps.

If you’re finding yourself glued to your screen for hours on end or you’re feeling the constant urge to check your phone every few minutes, it might be time to make some changes.

It’s not always easy but there are simple changes you can make to increase your chance of success.


Here are 3 simple ways to make your social media sabbatical successful:

  1. Remove platforms that don’t add value

    If you’ve signed up to every platform there is and you’re spending time scrolling through various news feeds, it’s time to assess which of these platforms are providing you with value and are worth keeping. 
     
     For example, if you are a small business and you use Instagram to sell your products online you might find Twitter to be useful occasionally but is it really adding to the bottom line of your business? Or, is it simply distracting you from other things?
     
     My advice would be to work out which platforms provide the most value either for business or for pleasure and get rid of the ones that are causing more harm than good.

    Another example: If you’re spending more time looking at photos of people you don’t really know anymore but you’re always having to cancel or reschedule time with friends in real life then get rid of Facebook immediately.



  2. Replace your phone with healthy alternatives
     
     
    There are excuses I know I’ve used myself in the past, and excuses that I hear all the time for one reason or another. The most common being: 
     
     — I use my phone as an alarm clock, it has to be next to my bed
     — I need my phone with me so I can take photos
     
     Replacing your phone with a simple alarm clock means you can put your phone in another room whilst you sleep and avoid checking it in the middle of the night and first thing when you wake up. 
     
     When you’re travelling, at a celebration or just exploring your local neighbourhood try taking a disposable camera out instead and leave your phone at home. Or, if you’re a keen photographer just take your professional camera and forget about your phone. You’ll be surprised at the sense of freedom and creativity that comes from simply being disconnected and focused.


  3. Schedule in time for social media 
     
     
    Pre-planning the time you DO spend on social media allows you to properly switch off when you’re not using it. When you know you’ve scheduled in the right amount of time to do what you need to do you don’t need to worry that you’re missing out on something or that you should just quickly check something you forgot to earlier. 
     
     You can make note of what you’re going to do in each scheduled session, even including time for mindless scrolling if you want to, but just make sure you’re cutting right down on the valueless interaction.


As our awareness of the damage technology can do to our physical and mental health increases our dependency on it does too.

Ask yourself, if I make these changes…

Will I be missing out?

Will I be unhappy?

Will my work suffer?

If you answer no to these questions, start implementing simple changes right away.