Social Media Mindfulness Detox Challenge!
What will you notice when you deactivate social media for a week?
Posted April 18, 2018
To bring attention to Mental Health Awareness Month in May, I invite you to participate in the “Facebuddha Mindfulness Challenge!” (My book, Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks, was published a few months ago.)
The Facebuddha Mindfulness Challenge is a three-week experiment consisting of easy to follow steps to take an intentional break from social media, notice the impact and make decisions to improve your mental health.
We’ve grown very attached to social media, but it’s important to recognize how it’s affecting us, cognitively, emotionally, relationally and even physically. Astonishingly, the average internet user spends about two hours a day on social media, which translates to a total of 14 hours a week! That’s a part-time job! Is this job paying off as we’d like? Where is it taking us?
The Facebuddha Mindfulness Challenge will help you become aware of your activity and make healthier choices about whether and how to use social media. As described in Facebuddha and in a previous Psychology Today blog post (“Is Facebook Destroying Society and Your Mental Health?”, January 29, 2018), several studies implicate social media in deteriorating well-being. Deactivating Facebook for one week led to increased happiness. What effects will taking a break have for you? I describe the effects of my own social media deactivation in my book and in an Op-Ed in the New York Daily News (“Deactivate Facebook to Become Human Again”, March 28, 2015).
Week One: Observations
Keep a journal (on paper or in your notes app) detailing your use of social media. Note when and where you open a social media app on your phone or desktop. How long do you use it? What compelled you to use it? What did you get out of the experience, emotionally and relationally? How was it satisfying or dissatisfying? Track where you often use social media-- at the stop light while you’re driving? On the toilet? When you’re waiting in line to make a purchase? When you’re feeling bored, lonely, curious or frustrated? Note your emotion and intention – this will become fuel for thinking about alternative ways to respond to your emotions and needs.
During this observation period, spend some time making a list of all the things you will do during your break aka the 14 hours you’re reclaiming by not being on social media!
- Schedule plans with friends that you haven’t seen in a long time (especially if you’ve been spending more time following and commenting on their posts).
- Spend time in nature and cultivate a connection with the planet.
- Exercise and really enjoy and notice your body.
- Take an urban hike and feel common humanity with people in your environment.
- Appreciate a leisurely meal by yourself or with friends and put the phone aside.
- Have a conversation about something that’s been on your mind or in the news; try to see the issue from multiple perspectives.
- Make playdough from scratch with your kids.
- Read a book (you could start with Facebuddha or one of my other books :) !), a magazine or newspaper, and spend time thinking about and appreciating what you’ve read.
- Write in a journal.
- Keep a gratitude and appreciation journal for what you’re noticing in your life.
- Clean out your closet and living space.
There is an endless list of enjoyable and necessary activities that could lead to personal growth and fulfillment! The key is to make active choices, and not be trapped in a passive flow that is ultimately dissatisfying. The Facebuddha Mindfulness Challenge can help you become aware of the passive flow, and make healthier choices.
Week two: Social Media Blackout!
During week two, delete all social media apps from your phone, log out of the websites or deactivate, and enjoy real life as you planned in the above list. Notice and appreciate what spontaneously comes up. In Facebuddha, I write that I felt the world was welcoming me back into its arms when I first deactivated Facebook.
We’ve created these social media graphics to share and let your friends/followers know that you’re taking the Facebuddha Mindfulness Challenge. They’ll have to meet you IRL (in real life) or call you directly to hear your true “status update.” Save these graphics to your device and post the day before you begin the challenge, or make your own “out of the matrix” post. (See bottom of post for more shareable graphics.)
Week three: Reflect & Re-engage
During the third week you’ll reflect on how you feel without all the pings, endless scrolling, and constant noise from your feeds.
How do your mind and body feel? Are you calmer? Less anxious? Do you feel happier? Did you take time for self-care? Did you connect with an old friend? Do you feel more present with your children, partner, friends and other relationships? Are you noticing any discomfort, boredom or loneliness? How might you care for yourself without turning to a screen for comfort?
Next, take time to write down your observations or discuss with a friend, and begin thinking about if and how you want to engage with social media in your life going forward. There are apps on android phones, like the Thrive App, that help keep you unplugged. Or perhaps you will realize that you don’t need to use social media apps at all anymore!
After you’ve completed the Facebuddha Mindfulness Challenge, we’d love to hear about your experience. Let us know by sending a message to email@example.com and you’ll automatically be entered into a raffle for your own signed copy of the book Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks! (Deadline September 1, 2018.)
We understand that deleting social media might not be an option for you because of work or other personal reasons. However, we ask that you participate in this experiment when you have some downtime in your work flow, and encourage your friends, partner, or family to participate with you!