What I Learned from My One Week Instagram Hiatus
A few weeks ago I decided to delete Instagram from my phone for a one week break. Instagram is my main platform used for social media and I've been using it since the launch in 2010. As the app has grown over the years with new features and functions, so has the time that I spend using it. While running a wellness blog, it is essential that I use social media to share my experiences and information with the world in hopes that they will benefit from it, but at the same time I know that I spend wayyyy to much time on the platform. I did this experiment to see if removing Instagram would make me more mindful of my daily habits and more present in the precious moments of daily life.
I strategically chose to do this during my finals week for school knowing that it would open up some free time for me to focus on my studies. I've already cut back so much on instagram stories and even sticking to my schedule of posting once a day since starting my Masters program but not having any commitment to content creation was extremely rejuvenating and refreshing. I got more out of this week off than I even expected...
- In the first day, I noticed how often I open the app and it was ABSURD. Pretty much every time I pick up my phone I would open it, purely out of habit. That right there said a lot to me. I would open it when I woke up, before bed, and in between doing different things such as random chores around the house. It was as if it was my reward for finishing something (like the dishes). I also noticed that I relied on it to help me wake up in the morning. After my alarm went off, I used instagram as a crutch to keep me from snoozing because I knew it would excite me. Although this isn't necessarily a horrible tactic for getting out of bed, it also just doesn't feel natural to start your day with social media being the first thing you see.
- I was present in my conversations with people (not thinking about other things or about ideas for a potential post). Even at random places such as on line at the grocery store, I was conversational with the checkout person instead of checking my phone.
- My creative juices were flowing. After finishing a final exam one day, I was leisurely biking around the neighborhood with no destination (something I would never have time to do or even think to do) and was in the moment - noticing houses I've never seen before, smelling the river and fresh cut grass etc., when I decided that with my extra time I was going to bike up to the beach. Although the beach is only 3 miles away, it hadn't crossed my mind once any other time all summer to do this. I'm not sure if it was because a lack of time or because my mind creatively wasn't thinking of new experiences but it ended up being the most relaxing ride over, the most peaceful time reading a book at the beach without checking my phone, and lead to the idea for Bryan and I to bike up for sunrise in the morning before work which we've been doing a few times a week ever since. I truly think that if I did not take this hiatus, we wouldn't be having these special sunrise rides to the beach because my mind would have been cluttered.
- I had more time - for my husband, my studies, for meditating and for reading. I even wrote a blog post for the first time in forever!
- I realized that with almost everything I did, I was thinking of ways to turn it into content. I noticed this the most during a yoga class where instead of thinking about remembering poses to post about after class or something the teacher said that stuck with me, I instead was just fully present with my breath and movement without thinking about the future. This also made me question why I feel the need to post the things I post. Why do I want to post my matcha on my story every day? Isn't that repetitive? Is it because I want people to know that I love matcha (which they definitely already know) or because I might have new followers that don't know I love matcha or because I want people to start drinking matcha a coffee alternative like I do to eliminate the crash and anxiety that coffee gives me? I really dug into these (somewhat ridiculous) "whys" which made me circle back to the reason I originally started blogging. I think that over time I've strayed away from my vision which is to help people live a healthier life, to inspire, to educate, and to entertain. I learned that while I want to share my experiences, I also want to make sure that there is a why behind them and that they are aligned with this mission.
Clearly, I learned a lot from just a few days of removing an app from my phone. I don't think it would serve me and my purpose to completely remove instagram from my life (although I can't say I won't change my mind on that one day). I do see the benefits of being able to express myself creatively and to inspire but I also know that these one week breaks could be very beneficial for me to take a step back, reflect and reset and I plan to add them in whenever I feel necessary (I'm thinking once a month). If you're on the gram way more than you think you should be, I encourage you to try a hiatus and see what you learn :)