While being pregnant back in 2017 I was working on The Smart Plan. It was something I had been thinking for a while and that was taking shape slowly in my head the last couple of years.
My daughter and The Smart Plan came to the world simultaneously, and it was crystal clear to me that my number one priority was to focus on my new born baby. My baby was my tiny wonder and I was in awe of all the feelings, responsibilities and the new perspective in life that I gained after she coming into my life. But still, somehow it didn’t feel right to leave my spiritual baby completely unattended. I decided to give my project the minimum of my attention. I planned to create social media channels, focusing especially on Instagram, until I get back to work after my maternity leave and work on other marketing strategies. My goal was to build a community of people that are into planning a mindful life, as well as to reach potential clients. They say babies sleep a lot. It doesn’t sound so difficult, right?
Soon I realized that the only time I had to keep occupied with IG, was after her going to sleep for the night, when I also had to take care of every single thing in my life, including spending time with my husband and well, resting!
The whole enterprise sounded easier said than done. Posting in IG for a product requires time and energy. And definitely more than what I initially imagined. It is important to me to create valuable content for the friends of my book, and it was clear to me during these months that this procedure helps me evolve personally and as a brand, as well as to connect with my audience.
A couple of weeks ago and after a long winter in Berlin, I took off to a beautiful Greek island to spend our summer vacation with my husband and my 16 month daughter. Again after my little one would go to sleep I would grab my laptop to work on my post and of course engage with other accounts. I have to say my energy level was so low, that it seemed like a huge task. Apparently, I complained about having to do that. At some point, my husband told me that he didn’t like me working during our vacation and I was completely shocked by him using the word “work”. The fact that I considered the Smart Plan a side project, something I am passionate about, made it hard for me to realize that everything I do concerning it, even the innocent scrolling, liking, commenting in IG, was actually work! I persuaded myself that it is more like a hobby, that was keeping my brain busy and helping me keep my adult sanity while spending the whole day with a toddler.
Without giving it a lot of thought, I posted that I am taking a break and left my cell phone aside for the next 14 days.
This experience, felt like a digital vipassana, was so liberating, so relaxing, so eye-opening and brought me into the following 5 realizations:
1. The need for validation
I gained an awareness of my feelings and motivations behind my interactions in IG. Being free of getting or not getting likes I felt relieved and more sure about myself. Apparently, I was often judging myself, my product, my ideas depending on the number of likes or comments I was getting. What started as a place to connect and collaborate, became a place to self criticise and often feel that what I am offering is not good enough. It is hard to admit something like that but it seems that it’s a common reaction of people in social media. So many people in the feed striving to gain attention, and ultimately to fulfill their human need to feel loved and accepted. Keeping distance from IG helped me see that this is definitely not the place to fulfill these needs and to remind myself why I started this account and what I want out of it.
2. Yes I’m An Addict
It was clear to me that I was totally addicted. Especially the first days I would glance at my phone more times than I could count. Without thinking about it my hand was already there unlocking my mobile screen and quickly clicking on the IG icon. Usually, I would scroll through my IG feed but now I was staring at my home screen and wondering “what can I check if not IG? What the heck can I do with my phone?” I started spending more time checking emails, or scrolling my Facebook feed, something I hadn’t done for a long time. The addiction was there, I had to stop.
3. Time and attention, our precious resources
I had more time. All these moments when I was usually scrolling my feed, were moments left empty to think, to gaze at the sea and let my eyes relax, to talk with my husband, to read a book, to sleep. I had more time to do all the things that I kept postponing as less significant. It also felt like I was slowing down, changing my rhythm. I realized that my attention is not limitless. All the focus I was giving at writing and rewriting the perfect (!) caption, or correcting an image to create a consistent look and feel for my brand, or scrolling my feed and interacting with others. It was all focus that I was taking away from my relationship with my husband, from being present for my child, from giving myself some precious space.
4. Declutter your mind
I observed that after ten days into my detox my memory improved, I could remember several tasks without keeping a to-do list. Also I could focus better and think more clearly. It felt like my head decluttered all the non-essential information and there was more mental space for thinking and concentrating. To this day I feel less stressed and more productive.
5. To post or not to post?
I noticed that I think of almost everything in my life as instagrammable or not. Clothes, furniture, architecture, coffee, moments in my everyday life, even my cats have out of the blue different value thanks to IG. I would think of every interaction, every event in my daily life as something worth sharing or not. I felt so relieved that I could just live in the moment, without thinking of documenting it. Enjoying life without letting the world know. I was so relaxed and felt so grateful for these moments!
The big question is what will I do with Instagram now that the detox is up?
I am certain that I don’t want to go back where I was, getting sucked back into a vicious circle of social expectations and being addicted to notifications. I still think that IG is a great platform to share valuable content. Ideas like knowing thyself, living mindfully in the present moment, being grateful, creating and planning the life you love, finding your purpose, staying true to your values, dreaming and goal-setting, self-care and happiness are what I am absolutely passionate about and I still want to share my thoughts about them. Also through IG I have met some great people and learned so many things from their journey in life.
Reflecting on my experience one of my favourite quotes of the ancient Greek philosopher Kleovoulos o Lindios comes into my mind, “Παν μέτρον άριστον” / “Pan Metron Ariston”, which means “Everything in moderation”. Like everything in life, social media can be useful in moderation and harmful in excess. My goal is to make a daily schedule for working with IG. Also to create a detox routine where one day per week, or one week per month I will step out of my digital interactions and take a temporary leave from the IG world.
How about you? Do you think you might also have a social media addiction? Have you ever tried to detox? I would love to hear your input about how you managed to control it.
Share with me in the comments in our Facebook or Instagram page!