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What I learned from 5 Days Away from Social Media

"Life lived for yourself in the real world, is so much better than a life lived online for others."

One week ago, I sat on the floor sobbing, filled with shame and feeling like a wreck. 

I was so filled with shame, that I didn’t want to talk to anyone. It probably sound strange, given that I’m used to talking about my own mental health for a living…but this was new to me. Particularly, as it was a response to a comment someone left on my social media page. 

I’m no stranger to people disagreeing with me. It’s part of life, right?

But this was different. Because this person was questioning my integrity and making some pretty awful insinuations about my motives. 

So, given that I was already feeling quite sensitive and upset (with everything going on in Australia right now and all our fellow Aussies who have been impacted by the bushfires) this comment really got to me. 

Even though this accusation is so contrary to who I am as a person, it really hurt. And as a result, I found myself filled with this deep sense of shame that was unlike anything I had felt for…I don’t know. Probably 8 years.  

Out of all the emotions a person can feel, I think that shame is one of the worst. Because it permeates you in a way that makes you feel like you cannot move forward at all.  It makes you feel that there is something inherently wrong with you. And for me, it filled me with so much panic and anxiety, that I felt not a single person would understand if I tried to tell them.  

In the end I did reach out to one friend, and I also told my husband.  I decided to completely get off all social media for a week, because to be honest, it feels like such a toxic and negative space right now. Thankfully, we also had a week of camping planned, and this gave me the space I needed to refresh. 

WHILE AWAY, THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED… 

Life lived for yourself in the real world…is so much better than a life lived online for others.

It took me around 2 days to stop looking at my phone as a source of entertainment and to start living in the moment, but once I did, I really started to feel a mental and emotional shift. 

Most importantly, my thoughts began to become my own.

They stopped being ‘status updates’ in my head – something that needed to be shared – and I learned to just ‘sit’ with them.  Even so, the addictive nature of social media was so hard-wired into me, that it took barely any time for my mind to begin craving it again.

The moment I found good reception on the island, I noticed that – unintentionally – my fingers had unlocked my phone, swiped to Facebook, and opened it. Without me even realising. I pretty much screamed and threw my phone away in the tent at that point! 

I learned how to sit back and relax.

Sea shells and coral I collected from Bribie Island

To take things slowly and enjoy doing nothing other than sitting on the beach all day or sitting around the camp with friends. Mornings were spent swimming, and in the afternoons when bluebottles peppered the waves, I would spend time with our friends’ kids, hunting the shoreline for pretty shells.  

My body began to heal itself.

Although my physical and mental health has improved drastically since recovering from burnout late last year, one thing that has not, are my menstrual cycles. In fact, until recently, I had not had a period in almost four months.

I was also fluctuating with random bouts of bloating that would come on for no reason, and last days or weeks.

While it’s possible that it’s just coincidence, I found it interesting that my period finally returned after a good week of rest and time offline – something I’ve not done in about a year.

I learned how to enjoy being like a child again.

To take pleasure in the beauty of a shimmering pink shell on the sand, or the excitement of finding a cowrie shell.  One morning, instead of putting our son down for a nap in our tent, I patted him to sleep on my shoulder and let him sleep there….forcing myself to do nothing other than cuddle him and read a book while he dozed. 

I had fun with taking photos and playing in nature.

I got back into using my SLR, and in the afternoons – instead of posting photos from my phone to social media – I would just sit and look through them. Again, there was no desire or ‘need’ to share everything.  

When I got home yesterday, I still had no desire to be online.

I sent a messenger msg to one friend to let them know how I was going, and that was it.  Today, as I sit here doing up this post, I’m reflecting on how much better I feel when I’m not online. I know that for many of us, we do need to be on social media – whether that’s for business or to stay connected with friends. 

But BALANCE is so important. 

 It’s okay to go days without being online.  I can promise you, the harsh reality is that once you’re gone, no one really misses you. They’re too busy in their own bubbles, getting in debates, or doing whatever they do on social media.  

Most importantly, I realised that I don’t miss social media.

I don’t miss the arguing. I don’t miss the anxiety surges as I wonder if my opinion about something is going to make someone else angry. I don’t miss the feeling of ‘feeling like I have to share everything.’ 

If you’ve gotten to this end of this post, I want to thank you for taking the time to read. And if it’s inspired you to get back into something that you really love, please let me know what it is. 

(Click here to leave a comment on my Facebook post). 

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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