I quit social media a year ago this week both for business and personal use. So how has my life changed? Well I can narrow it down to these five big changes which I will expand on in detail but much like when I quit drinking, quitting social media has given me so much!
- More time – for myself, my family and friends and to spend doing what is important to me and what brings me joy.
- More focus and Intention – I’m still wildly disorganised but I somehow manage get so much done because I am focused, am able to concentrate for longer & am starting to be intentional about what I’m doing.
- More confidence – constantly comparing myself to the lives of others gracing my feed really zapped my confidence and I felt not good enough on so many levels. I now feel much more secure and confident within my tea drinking, tree loving, white haired, sober self.
- More me – because I’ve stopped trying to be like others or do what they are doing, I’m settling into myself again which feels really freeing and exciting!
- More connection – My family are really benefitting for a more present me and yes, my circle of friends has admittedly gotten smaller, but I know who my people really are and we have much deeper friendships and connections.
When I say I quit social media a year ago, I mean I quit Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Linkedin. I have never been on Tiktok. I deleted my twitter and Linkedin accounts but my Facebook and Instagram accounts are still up there, although I don’t look at them. This blog will cover more of the personal stuff, although I will briefly mention how my business has been affected.
All in all, I am really happy with my decision to leave social media and while I would recommend that everyone really look closely at their social media use, this is my experience which might not be yours. However if you’ve been thinking about it or if Instagram is getting you down, then hopefully what I am sharing with you today might provide a bit of insight and help you with your decision making.
And if you’d enjoy listening to me chat about this, then go ahead and listen to the podcast here
I first quit social media in February 2022 by taking a break and a few days into my initial break from social media, I recorded a podcast and wrote a blog about why I quit and what led me to turning the social media break into a more permanent thing which you can listen to here. But in a nutshell, the main reason I quit social media a year ago was because it was beginning to feel like my drinking did before I quit that.
In other words, taking up far too much space in my head, too much of my time, my energy, it was getting in the way of my relationships with my family and I was starting to feel a bit crap about myself.
In terms of business, I was feeling very overwhelmed and social media felt like yet another thing I had to do. It didn’t feel like a nice place either and while I didn’t really enjoy using social media for my business, it was still scary to step back. But I am so pleased I did because a year later, my business is doing great and I feel like I’m doing what I am supposed to do in the way I’m supposed to do it which is no small thing!
When I quit social media a year ago, it forced me to really look at myself in terms of my skills and gifts and I finally hit on a way of supporting you, my clients, that has incredible results for you, feels so nurturing for us both and I’m much more comfortable in the way I am getting the word out about what I do.
I say finally because It’s been a year since I stopped using social media for anything which seems a long time to figure things out. But it hasn’t been quite the year I was expecting and life certainly showed up in big ways!
The weird bit in the beginning, what happened first
But let’s back track a little. I mentioned in my initial post last year that I saved so much time and had so much energy since ditching facebook and instrgram. I saved I think 11 hours in the first week and started to read books again. I felt more present with my family, started sleeping better and generally had more focus
But it was also weird. I must admit to having a few cravings at first, that urge to pick up my phone to see what was going on was really strong in the first day or two and the FOMO was huge! I am a sobriety coach, I help people with this kind of thing all the time but it was a little unnerving to be experiencing it again for myself, and over social media of all things.
There must have been, and perhaps there still is, something inside of me with a need to consume and to look around at what other people are doing because I signed up to so many newsletters in those first few weeks, it was crazy! I totally overwhelmed myself. Thankfully things have settled down now and I am enjoying more time away from screens and focusing much less on what others are doing. But I am still buying books, which may be an area I need to address a little deeper.
I feel that while I have grown so much over the past year, I still need to work on myself, which is really not a bad thing, we’re all a work in progress aren’t we. And without freeing myself from this terrible distraction, I’m not sure I would even be aware of the areas of myself I need to nourish and nurture a bit more, let alone have the time, energy and desire to try and do it.
There’s more to life than Instagram!
Pretty quickly after quitting, I got the biggest wake up call, that social media is really not that important in the whole scheme of things, not at all actually. Two months social media free, Mac, my husband, suffered a stroke, which had a huge impact on us as a family, my work, and our home life. It really put things into perspective and while my husband was in ICU terrified he would never see us again, everything else just paled into significance, as you can imagine.
Social media was the last thing on my mind and has remained that way. My focus is on my family and making the most of our time together. The onIy thing that I noticed that it was a bit of a challenge for me to message people individually. But then again is that something I would have shared in an Instagram post, I don’t know? Thankfully, I do have wonderful friends and the support we received in the beginning was all we needed to get us through and I think that social media would have been more distraction that I was able to cope with. Which brings me on to my first point about people.
I found out who my real friends are
Quitting anything, is such an eye opener. Much like when you quit drinking, you start to realize who your real friends are and who your drinking buddies were. You naturally lean towards those people who love and support you and are genuinely interested in you, and vice versa. Quitting social media had the same affect for me. And I was a bit hurt actually.
When someone keeps saying, ‘yeah, yeah let’s get together’ but never commits or keeps cancelling, then after a while you stop making an effort.
People who I thought were my friends, turned out to be, well, not so much. I spent a lot of time in the beginning making an effort, emailing, sending Whatsapp messages, offering to get together for a Zoom chat or whatever and it really highlighted who the important people in my life are. When someone keeps saying, ‘yeah, yeah let’s get together’ but never commits or keeps cancelling, then after a while you stop making an effort.
Of course it is very upsetting but I have to say that I have a small but absolutely lovely network of people I can call genuine friends and the connection we have is authentic and deep and lovely. All in all, I feel like I have my people around me now, which is important.
More Focus and Intention
Social media is a huge distraction as you know, I’m sure. I love the quote by Oliver Burkman in ‘Four Thousand Weeks’ when he says
“Social Media is a giant machine for getting you to spend your time caring about the wrong things”
So true. I found that not being on social media made me much more focused and intentional with a lot of things in my life. I was able to really research what to do for the best to help my husband. I could have gone down many, many rabbit holes or I’m sure joined about 10 support groups regarding stroke and stroke recovery. As it was I looked for what I needed and was able to get specific support around specific issues without getting dragged away and onto other things.
My business feels joyful again
I found the pressure of using social media for business very draining and distracting. I would sometimes not post because I was over thinking, second guessing and comparing too much. Since I quit social media a year ago, my business marketing has consisted of my blog and podcast which I love. I’ve also loved creating so much helpful content, such as the festive email series which people really enjoyed.
I’ve also been able to concentrate on PR and traditional media angles which has resulted in being able to reach more people thanks to spots in the Guardian, the BBC and the i Newspaper. I would not have had access to such big audience from Instagram or Facebook, so actually not relying on social media has widened my reach, allowing be to help even more people.
I do feel so much more connected to the bits of life that really matter. Really being present with my family or when doing things I enjoy. I am there when we walk in the woods or when my kids are speaking to me. I’m there fully when cooking, listening, writing, reading. I’m there for all of it. I wish I could say that life at home is wonderful and everyone is floating around in bliss and happiness but it’s not, of course it’s not, but that’s okay! I have a teenager who has a phone! We watch a bit too much TV, I am very often disorganised and we don’t have family game nights. Quitting social media has not made me a lover of board games, never will.
More time in nature
I can’t say for sure that it is directly linked to no social media or not, but we have spent more time together as a family this past year, most of it outdoors which was a huge reason for me to leave social media. I felt I was either not spending enough time outside in nature, or when I was there, I wasn’t really there because I was too busy looking for instaworthy photos!
A big impact that quitting social media a year ago has had on my life is not something I even thought about when I quit. I didn’t leave because I realized I wasn’t my true self or wasn’t living in alignment, but since quitting I have been shocked to discover just how much I was not living how I wanted to live and not really doing the things loved. Of course, I haven’t become a totally different person, the social media user me, was still me, but now I am more me.
It’s like when you don’t realize how tired you’ve been until you wake up from ten hours of blissful, uninterrupted, deep, deep slumber. Or like you didn’t think you were hungry until someone put a plate of your favourite dinner in front of you and you ate every last bite!
It was only when I had the time and energy to do more of the things that light me up, did I realize I hadn’t been spending enough time on them. I love to read, I love to write, I like cooking which was a huge source of comfort after my husband’s stroke. I had the most wonderful summer hiking, being in the woods, eating outdoors, and exploring more of the area where we live. I’d like to do more of those things and continue working on some of the other things that need improvement!
More benefits I am experiencing after I quit social media a year ago
A sense of calm – I do generally feel less stressed, frazzled or like I’m always chasing my tail.
Far less comparisonitis – I can’t tell you how liberating it feels not to be constantly comparing myself to everyone and everything. I am so much more grateful and happy in my skin as a result.
Feeling more confident – Because I’m not comparing all the time, my confidence in myself is steadily improving. Not only that but I am seeking out new opportunities and moving out of my comfort zone which is scary, of course, but feels wonderful.
Better sleep – Checking social media last thing at night, in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning is not good for your sleep! I now read before bed or listen to a meditation and sleep so much better. I do still use my phone as a torch when I get up in the night to go to the loo and find myself checking email or Whatsapp. I think it’s time to leave the phone out of the bedroom!
My mornings are my own – No more checking my feed first things means I start the day on my terms. My mood is not dictated by how other people are feeling, what they are doing, and how they are living their lives. It feels so nice to ease into things feeling calm instead of immediately on the back foot and feeling under pressure.
What’s not been great
There is nothing really bad about not being on social media. I have not disappeared off the face of the earth but since I quit social media year ago I have a few little niggles.
I do feel like I’ve lost touch with some people, I’m not up to date with what’s going on in people’s lives like I used to be as I mentioned earlier. My friendship circle has gotten a lot smaller in the sense that there is no more random back and forth messaging or comments about what I just posted. I have to make an effort now if I really want to stay in touch with people and vice versa of course. So it’s a shame and a bit sad but that’s life and we can’t all keep in touch with everybody all the time. Like I said, I know who my people are.
It’s just so convenient to use the socials and I do get frustrated that it’s often the only option. If I want to find out what’s going on in my local village for example I have to use Facebook to check! I am in a business support membership and while they have an online platform and we use Zoom for our meetings, the chat is on Facebook so I do feel like I’m missing out on those type of things. And bargains, there seems to be loads of bargains on Facebook!
But apart from little things like that, there is absolutely nothing I miss about social media at all.
Will I return to social media?
At this point, I very much doubt it! Much like when I quit drinking I have gained so much and really want to see how much better things can get for me! I have been pushed to get out of my comfort zone (I think social media made me a bit lazy) and be more proactive with people and work related things. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t, but I have clarity now, I’m not just bumping along in life hoping for the best.
Overall life is calmer, more intentional and I am happier. I have the time, energy, space and confidence to be with the people I love, do the things that bring me joy and take steps in the direction I want to go without fear or guilt or worrying what others will think of me.
This extra head space that appeared when I quit social media a year ago has enabled me to grow and learn and connect and expand in ways I just hadn’t even imagined. It was worth taking a step back just for that! If you are curious and thinking about taking a break then please give it a go, start small and see what unfolds – I think you’ll be surprised.
I’d love to know your own experiences with social media whether you love it/ hate it or are somewhere in between. And f you need support in quitting or stepping back, get in touch, I can help.