The Battle for My Mind - How a social media detox improved my mental well-being

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. - Philippians 4:8


I used to be an addict.


Yes, an addict. I was hopelessly addicted to the news and to social media. For hours, I would stare at my phone, scrolling, reading, scrolling, reading, scrolling. It was endless. I was getting sucked in to every conspiracy theory, every negative post, every hateful comment that I read. In turn, I was a miserable, fearful person.


It wasn't until one horrible day that I decided I couldn't handle social media anymore. It wasn't the first time I got threats by some hateful people who were too invested in social media themselves. But this time, I decided I had had enough. I deleted all of my accounts on every platform I had - including the news. The only account I chose to keep was my Facebook account, and only for business purposes. I deleted everything else.


I was done.

I realized a very simple fact: social media is just not healthy. The human brain was not created to have the world at it's fingertips. Our minds are not strong enough to be able to have access to every single negative opinion out there. We mentally can't handle that. We were not created to be able to healthfully process every conspiracy theory that someone half-way across the world chooses to share. We are not supposed to be able to constantly see what some stranger half-way across our country is doing in their day-to-day lives. (The worst part is, if you are able to access that information on those people, what can they access in your life?)


You see, humans were not created for that. We were created for the people in our own communities. We were created to have physical connections with the people who are closest to us. When we focus on the people near to us, (rather than the loudmouths with bad opinions on the other side of the country,) we find that we can have special relationships, overall happiness, and excellent mental health.


Here are some of the things a social media-free life has done for me, and also why you should consider fully removing social media from your life:


I am actually happy


Scientists say that on a day-to-day average, 80% or more of the total thoughts of the adult brain are typically negative. If this is true, think about how much negative content is on social media.


Social media, as a whole, is nothing but a glorified soap-box. Anyone can get up on their personal "soap-box" and spew whatever negative garbage that they want for the whole world to see. But you have a choice to listen to listen to that negativity, or remove yourself from it.

I ultimately chose the latter.


When I finally made that decision to get off of social media, I immediately felt a weight lift off of my shoulders. There was a calm. I didn't have a bunch of notifications coming in. I didn't have a ton of emails. My phone was just silent. It was such a new feeling.


Over the course of the next few days, I also made sure not to get any negative news articles either. The only news I would receive would be weather forecasts, local news about county fairs and such, and some articles on what new shows and games were coming out. That's it. The funny thing is, I used to actually look down on people who didn't read the news. I believed them to be "uninformed" individuals. But I now realize that they weren't uninformed at all. Rather, they were very smart. They were choosing not to get sucked-in to constant negativity of biased news articles.


The fact is, big news will always reach a person's ears. But choosing to distance oneself from daily negativity is just good sense.


Since my social media/news detox, I have never been happier. I am no longer consumed by negativity. I am longer smacked in the face with arguments, fights, and political opinions every time I open a social media app. I am now doing my best to focus on Philippians 4:8, And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.


Trust me, focusing on healthy things creates a healthy mind.


I am present


One of the best reasons to get off of social media is the amount of time it saves. Now, instead of wasting my time on social media, I am using that time to exercise, read a book, get some work done, or even sleep!


I am also more focused at work and with my husband. I am no longer staring at my phone when he talks to me. I have noticed that my dog is getting healthier. I am playing with him for much longer than I would have even a month ago.


I am finally present with the people that matter most in my life. Instead of focusing on what some rando has to say about politics in Southern California, I am now focusing on my home, my work, my chores, my husband, and my family.


I am sleeping!!

During the months of October, November, December, and the beginning of January, I went through on of the worst bouts of insomnia that I ever had. Though I have always struggled with insomnia, this was beyond that. Most nights, I wasn't tired. I wouldn't fall asleep until usually five in the morning. It was horrible, especially on the days I had to wake up early. I was constantly exhausted, my mornings were horrible, and I started getting out of sync with my husband's sleep schedule. This was causing fights as I was waking him up when I went to bed, and he was waking me up in the morning. It was a serious struggle that I didn't know how to fix.


It wasn't until I got off of social media that I began to rest at night. About a week later, I was falling asleep around three in the morning. Now, I can easily go to bed at midnight and even sleep all the way through the night!


I know that this was directly correlated to social media. Sleeplessness is just one of the many side-effects of a social media addiction. Though I didn't realize this at the time. Since I was so stressed and worried about what was happening in the world, or how people viewed me and my opinion, I was unable to relax my mind at night. I was constantly thinking about the news, what this person or that person said to me, and how many followers my accounts gained, among so many other things that were going on in my life.


Now, all of that clutter in my brain is gone. I go to bed and typically fall asleep within a few minutes.


I am healthier overall


Without having to worry about social media, I am a much healthier person. I am exercising more, I am eating better, I am sleeping better, I am taking time to read more health articles, I am working harder, I am cooking more, and I am much happier in my relationships and with people in general.


The sad thing is, more and more evidence about the dangers of social media addiction is starting to come to light, with documentaries like the "Social Dilemma" on Netflix and scientific papers such as this one and this one. Yet, no one seems to want to listen or take action steps on deleting their own social media accounts, though the evidence against social media is staggering.


I want to conclude with one last thing:


For years, I knew that social media was addicting, I knew it was harmful, I knew it caused poor mental health. But since I was addicted, I falsely believed "I was the exception." I believed that those things happened only to other people and that I was "fine." But I wasn't fine. And, chances are, if you are believe you are the exception, you aren't fine either.


As Christians, we are called to think on helpful things, not negative things. We are called to focus on Christ, not on the world. We are called to shine the light, not get on our social-media-soap-boxes and vomit personal opinions. We are called to be examples and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. How can we do any of these things when we are focusing our minds on appearances, social media, biased news articles, and negative opinions?


I challenge you to take some time to do a complete social media detox. You don't have to fully delete your accounts, but just three weeks of no social media. How hard can that be? Once you are done, analyze how you feel.


Trust me, you will feel completely different. You will be happier, focused, awake, healthier, and present. At the end of those three weeks, you won't even want to go back to social media. Your mental well-being is better than anything social media could ever offer.


God,


Thank you for giving me the strength to get off of social media for good. I am thankful for the new-found joy I have been given in place of social media - which could never, ever bring me true joy. Please help anyone who is struggling with a social media addiction, and give them the strength to find something better: health, happiness, and the joy that can only come from You!


In Jesus's name,


Amen

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© 2021 by Jenn Kokal.