Try this social media fast!
The 40-Day Fast You Need
By Masumi Goldman
If you’re looking to increase your productivity, boost your creativity, regain clarity over your life, or achieve specific goals—look no further.
I’ve got a simple tip for you that will make all the difference.
It’s such an important tip for living an inspired life that it happens to be the first healthy habit in my book, Rise and Thrive: A Guide for Transforming Your Mood, Cultivating Inspiration, and Living Vibrantly with Chronic Illness.
It’s a simple tip in theory, and anyone can do it, but it’s not necessarily simple in practice. It requires serious discipline and commitment.
Are you up for the challenge?
Here it is:
Begin a 40-day social media fast.
No Facebook. No Instagram. No Twitter. No Snapchat. No TikTok. Nothing.
Delete every social media app on your phone.
If you need to use social media for work, do a modified fast. Delete the apps from your phone, and only access social media from the web-based versions on your computer.
This sets a clear distinction in your mind. Social media gets grouped with other work-related activities. It is NOT a personal leisure activity.
Even though you’ll still be using social media each day for work, you’ll cut back significantly on the mindless scrolling that tends to happen throughout the day if these platforms are available on your phone.
If you’ve never taken a solid break from social media in the past, you really have no sense of the pull it has on your life.
It calls to you every time you have a free moment within the day. It consumes your brain, long after you’ve finished reading a post and commenting on it.
It provides a hit of dopamine every time you see that someone has approved of your photos and endorsed your ideas by hitting the “like” button. It urges you to check back often to see who else has approved of your post.
It’s designed to work this way.
Because of the addictive nature of social media with its endless source of entertainment, information, and validation, you reach for your phone every time you sense an inkling of boredom. You crave constant stimulation to feel satisfied.
The result of this addiction?
You completely eliminate all pockets of free time. These brief periods of time that might otherwise be used for mindfulness, problem solving, creativity, or original thoughts have been lost to social media scrolling and posting.
Think about it—what do you do when you’re on line at the grocery store or waiting on line at the car wash?
You reach for your phone.
Every moment of time is filled with the ideas and feedback of your “friends” and “followers.” The opportunity for independent thought is crushed. It’s just a constant stream of input.
It’s only when you finally extricate yourself from the addictive pull of social media that you actually see how addictive and disruptive this habit has become in your life.
Right now, you can’t see the loss of productivity, or the lingering effect on your ability to focus.
The Struggle is Real
When you begin your 40-day fast, the first week won’t be easy. Breaking a habit—especially one that you didn’t even recognize as being addictive—is difficult.
Stick with it!
· Sit with the uncomfortable feelings.
· Notice how many times you inadvertently reach for your phone throughout the day, even though the apps are no longer there.
· Make sure you don’t replace your need for constant stimulation with another phone habit—like checking a news app more often, or checking the weather.
Stay faithful to the intention of the fast, and you’ll begin to experience change.
Get Ready for Change
Here are FIVE changes that you’ll likely experience as a result of your 40-day fast:
1. You will regain control over the ideas and messages that enter your mind. You will say “NO” to filling up your brain with the articles and opinions that randomly scroll by on your feed and affect your thoughts and temperament. You will no longer be a slave to social approval in the form of a like button.
2. You will fill your mind (and time) intentionally with the books, blogs, and articles that YOU choose. The extra time you gain by abstaining from social media will be used to explore areas of interest that serve you. Instead of fuming over a political post or an outrageous claim on your scrolling feed, you will choose to fill your mind with information and knowledge that inspires you, makes you happy, and moves you forward in your work.
3. You will notice an improvement in your ability to focus. Without the next dopamine hit luring you every few minutes, your need for constant stimulation will diminish. That feeling of your phone burning a hole in your pocket will start to fade, and you will focus for longer periods of time. Longer stretches of focus will lead to increased productivity.
4. You will get back into the mindset to create. You will regain blocks of time that you didn’t know you had, and you will even get the chance to experience a bit of boredom. In this space, you will have the opportunity to think new, original thoughts and become a creator rather than just a consumer.
5. You will become more confident in the person that you are. Social media is one big opportunity to compare yourself to others. When you step away from the highlight reels of your friends and followers, you will realize that it doesn’t really matter what others are doing and how quickly they are doing it. Your current reality is all that matters, and you’ll see that the life you’ve created for yourself is pretty great.
At the end of 40 days, assess the changes to your life. Take stock of the books you’ve read, the hobbies that you’ve allocated more time to enjoying, the changes in your mindset, and the improvements in your focus and productivity.
If you want to extend your fast to see if the benefits continue, go for it.
If you’re ready to re-introduce social media into your life, do it in an intentional way. Set aside a specific time for it, and make sure it never takes control of your life again.
If you have insights about your fast or questions you’d like to ask, feel free to write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always happy to connect.
Author of Rise and Thrive