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Tips For Trying Digital Minimalism

What is your relationship with social media and/or your phone like? How do they fit into your daily life? What do you gain from them? Do they cause you any harm?

I was happy this question was brought to me. I'm actually always happy when people request certain topics; it helps me know what's worth writing about. When I first got sober, I took a huge break from social media and completely wiped my phone. I knew I needed to be off of Instagram and Facebook and out of contact with a bunch of people if I had any shot at staying away from trouble. It was about six or seven months sans booze and other drugs before I felt comfortable accessing a lot of online spaces again.

We’re seeing these digital breaks (or minimalism) more and more and understandably so. I have always been an advocate for the Internet and social media because I see the potential they have for good. However, I am not so naive that I don’t recognize the overwhelm that constant connectivity can bring. Social media is often food for our insecurities and it can also be used as an emotional anesthetic when our minds are better spent focused elsewhere.

That being said, a digital detox, a break from social media or just your phone in general, should be a personal choice. There is nothing wrong with using your smartphone or accessing social media and other content on the Internet. But if you are ready to take a step back in any capacity for any amount of time, here’s my best advice:

Know why you want a break.

Knowing WHY you're doing something always helps the mind to accept it as the pursuit of a goal rather than a punishment. Use that reason why to help inform how you spend some of the time that’s freed up by you being off of your phone. Examples:

  • if you want to be more present for your children or partner, then make sure you make an effort to actually BE present while you’re taking your break

  • if social media is starting to feel like a way to numb out or like you can’t stop yourself, you might need to look at doing some sacral work. Type "guided sacral chakra meditation" into YouTube OR maybe schedule some Reiki

  • are you noticing yourself drawing comparisons to others too much on these apps? Spend the time away working on self-concept and confidence

If you can’t think of a reason why you want a break, you might not really need one.

Consider what you gain from social media and your smartphone.

They definitely help fulfill certain needs (or else we wouldn't have bought into them in the first place) and I wouldn't want you to deprive yourself. For me, two of the biggest benefits of my phone and social media are creative expression and naturally, social connection. While I was taking a break, I started painting and collaging; I began to rely more on my journaling practice, writing some short stories as well. I started a new job around that time (where I met my now best friend) so I was connecting with people daily that way and making an effort to see friends and family for coffee and such.

Tell people.

If you’re the type of person who is always active, posts often and responds in a timely manner, then you should probably let the people that matter know that you’re taking a break. This way you won't feel tempted to post to let people know you’re okay. It's also easier to stick to something when you've let others know about it. Accountability!

Get outside.

Because we could all use it. Being outside grounds you, which helps to ease anxiety and re-inforce boundaries you've set with yourself. Something about nature also makes me less inclined to play with machines. Is this just me? Could be. Try it and let me know.

Here are some other quick hacks for gaining more control over your phone time:

  • put yourself on Do Not Disturb to feel less tempted by notifications

  • read or listen to podcasts to fulfill the need for entertainment

  • find a low-maintenance hobby to fill idle time (e.g., crocheting, big puzzles, those crystal art things etc)

  • designate certain times of the day (e.g., 7-8PM) as app or email checking times

  • get into the habit of calling people. It's usually when I'm waiting for somebody to text back that I scroll aimlessly. Phone calls are quicker, more direct ways to communicate

  • learn to validate yourself. It's no secret that people use social media for validation. We want people to "like" who we are, what we're doing, what we have to say. Go within and investigate this. How can you give yourself the acceptance you might seek from others online?

  • quit judging yourself! The more we obsess over not wanting to do something because it's "bad," the more we're tempted to do the thing. Then we feel guilty and the cycle repeats itself

I wish you well on your journey ♥

As always, if you’re interested in speaking more about this topic, feel free to comment or use the contact box at the bottom of my home page. I also always welcome requests for content.

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