08 Jan Yogi’s guide to a social media detox
How do you make the most of a fortnight without Facebook, Twitter or email and find more time for the things you love? Over Christmas I indulged in a social media-free holiday and, as well as learning to make chutney, discovered a heap about how to use the spare time and energy in an email-void. Here are five tips for healthily embracing modern technology so that it can help you do good things in the world.
1. Have a reason for your social media detox
Whether for a weekend or a month, ask yourself what you would like to see happen as a result of your break. Perhaps you want to see your friends more, finish writing (or reading) a book, or learn a language. It could simply be “to see what else I do when I’m not on Facebook”. Be specific and write it down to get your intention clear.
2. Plan a satisfying morning routine
Choose three things to do every day around the same time you would normally log in to your computer. One should get your body moving (such as yoga), another engages your brain in something interesting (I listen to a French podcast every morning to keep up my second language) and make your third a service from the heart (mine is to do one simple house chore that my boyfriend would appreciate). You don’t have to spend long on any one activity, a little each day soon adds up to a new habit.
3. Notice what you do with your spare time, rather than what you think you should be doing
Steven Corona, CEO of Twitpic, wrote that 30 days without social media made him write, strengthen friendships, meditate and do stuff he loves. Be open to enjoying some very ordinary things. On my social media detox I found myself gardening, which was completely unexpected. If something really takes your fancy and you hope you have time for it once things get busy again, build your newly discovered interest into your day, by scheduling space in your diary.
4. Define your relationship with social media before you dive back in
As Jessi Hempel writes: it’s not social media’s fault that we use it more than we’d like. In fact, there are many benefits such as instant news and learning about the day-to-day lives of friends. When approaching the end of your detox, imagine you’re reuniting with a lover after a break. What qualities are you seeking in your relationship that let you get all – and only – benefits? Some of mine include:
- Facebook deepens my relationships rather than being a way to skim over the surface
- Email is a tool, not a task
5. Check in before you connect your mobile phone to wifi
In the moment your thumb is on auto-pilot to Gmail, ask “What do I want to achieve from this action?” and pause to wait for the answer. If it’s to write an email, then write the email with grace, focus and love. Sign out once you’re done. If a little part of you is wondering if you’re loved today and is hoping for a few validating ‘likes’, take a few soft breaths in and out, and feel your reuniting imaginary lover surrounding you in his or her arms saying, “You already are, loved very much”.