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What Happened When I Took a Mental Health Break From Social Media?

Michelle is a self-love and wellness coach on her personal healing journey. She empowers others through her experiences.

Social media addiction is real

Social media addiction is real. I know because this addiction consumes me from time to time. Why does it happen?

For myself, I get addicted to social media when I'm already struggling with my mental health and my triggers. This is usually when I am feeling low, depressed, alone, or anxious. I get addicted to posting, the likes, the comments, comparing to others, the attention, and stalking other people's pages. I get stuck in this muddy quicksand hole that social media worsens.

It's not the fault of social media itself. Social media platforms are amazing outlets to share your wisdom, experiences, talents, and businesses.

But, it is also a cesspool of triggers. It tests your confidence, sense of self-worth, and self-love. It's nobody's fault, positive or negative, it will always be your responsibility to continue healing when facing triggers but sometimes, we can't have both. We can't navigate social media AND heal. Sometimes, we have to walk away from all the noise.

The noise of the world stopped

The sudden flow of relief and silence was the first thing that happened when I hit that "sign out" button. Being on social media, Instagram in particular feels like I am standing in a small room with thousands of people screaming from every direction. The noise is constant. Sometimes it's so loud I can't think for myself. Everyone is fighting to be seen and heard. Some more violently than others.

The instant relief of not having to contribute to the noise was the second thing that happened. I am an introvert who values silence and her privacy and sometimes, I don't want to post, talk, or divulge anything about my life. Sometimes, I want to get dressed in the morning without having to take a picture and post it on the internet because people want to know what's on my back. I want to drink my coffee without having to post a story and informing people of what I am drinking. Sometimes, I want the noise to stop including my own.

The dissipation of the voices in my head was the third thing that happened. As a mental health warrior struggling with anxiety, my mind is often already loud and social media can turn up the volume of those voices. Everything is a trigger at times.

Someone is encouraging me to hustle and my mind says I am not doing enough.

Someone is sharing their latest accomplishment and my mind says I have failed.

Someone is sharing their tragic story and my mind says my problems aren't big enough.

Someone shares their outfit of the day and my mind says that my style is ugly.

Someone shares a video and my mind says I need to be more like her.

When the noise stopped, I was able to sit with my triggers and my voices. I was able to face the noise and separate myself from the illness. I was able to breathe, think, and regain control.

I made space in my mind for healing

Have you ever stood in a room with loud people and tried to go inward to think and reflect on your own world? It's hard to do isn't it when the outside noise is too loud? Do you notice how other people's noise sometimes spills into your own noise that's already crippling you?

It's hard to focus on your journey and heal your burdens if you don't create a safe, quiet space within yourself to face your truths and darkness.

Healing is like trying to have an honest conversation with a child who is plagued with fear and struggles to trust in a crowded room sending them into a frenzy of uncontrollable anxiety. It is impossible. You need an empty quiet room where your voice is the only one that child hears and eventually learns to trust.

Social media is that crowded room. My inner child is that scared, triggered child and I am my higher self trying to nurture my inner child and its burdens.

You can't get the results you need if you don't change your surroundings to help those results happen.

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I created more time for my kids

Do you know what else happens when you're on social media? You forget that you have other responsibilities. Just one more post, just one more comment, just one more scroll, and next thing you know it's dinner time and that bike ride you promised them won't happen.

I am mostly on social media for business so that's always my excuse. I have to work. I have to post this for work. I have to try and make money. I have to comment and follow people to get more followers and more potential customers. I have to because..

The problem is that I get addicted to getting results and recognition. I have to be online because if I am not, I may miss an opportunity. People may forget all about me. I may miss customers seeing my work. I may miss out.

Then I burnout. I get headaches from constantly being on my phone. I get exhausted from the stress and the anxiety of chasing results. Then I get angry because all of my efforts have nothing to show for it. I swear off social media just to be back on there two minutes later scouring other business pages and sinking in a pool of jealousy over their success second-guessing everything I am doing.

Do you know what I am missing out on the most when I am stuck online? My kids.

When I signed out, I stopped the noise, and made space to heal, relax, and most of all, have fun with my kids. Lately, we have been playing the Nintendo Switch I spent 400$ on two years ago and only picked up once or twice. We have been going for bike rides, baking together, watching movies together, and having real conversations where I am looking into their eyes and actually retaining information.

My kids became important again.

I was able to focus on the actual work

So I started a small reselling and handmade business. I got online and put up shops on marketplaces and started an Instagram account to showcase my products, share my life, and spread awareness on causes that matter to me. Do you know what else I do from time to time?

I get caught up in the reaction to those things I post on social media. I'll find myself going online throughout the day to check who liked and/or commented. It becomes an obsession and no amount is good enough or up to my standards. If I feel disappointed or unseen, I get frustrated and start overthinking. What am I doing wrong? They don't like what I am putting out. I am unworthy. I will literally spend hours scrolling online stuck in the obsession.

I know it's a trigger. It's a trigger to the trauma of past abusive relationships with lovers, friends, and family alike. It's a trigger that sends my anxiety in a spiralling tornado of negative thoughts and self-doubts. It's a trigger I am continuously and actively healing.

The only way to heal this trigger, again, is to minimize the noise of the outside world. The more time I spend on my own, working and creating, the more I believe in myself. The more I understand that creating is not for them, it's for me first. It allows me to realize that not all I create will sell the same day or at all. It creates that safe space for me to be kind to myself and remind myself that I need to look at solutions in my business instead of giving these triggers power. Signing off of social media silences everything around me and allows me to re-evaluate my world without the influence of the rest of the world. It creates this quiet space for my creativity to be inspired and flow freely without limitations.

When I am not caught up in my triggers, I can focus on my work, my creations, and my passions. I can focus on the creativity itself and on the journey, not the end result.

I stopped relying on people's attention

As someone who has been made to feel unworthy for most of my life, I have developed this need for reassurance. Social media brings it out of me even more. Not getting the recognition I yearn for triggers the voices to try and convince me that I am not worthy. My mind is a constant contradiction because as an introvert I crave solitude yet as a trauma survivor I crave attention.

Everything I do relies on whether people approve or not. Taking social media breaks allows me to reconnect to my soul and my intuition. It allows me to have fun and remember that it doesn't matter what others think. It matters what I think. It allows me to heal further and continue building my self-confidence.

Be patient with yourself

In conclusion, social media is not the problem. My trauma is. I am still healing and probably will be healing for the rest of my life. Social media breaks will have to be a part of my routine. It sucks and I wish I was "normal" but I am learning to be patient with myself. I am learning that my soul, my body, and my mind need different things and I am learning to listen to those needs.

It's been a few weeks already and I am really enjoying the solitude. The space to think, feel, and heal.

A few weeks ago, I was frustrated, emotional, exhausted, and wanted to delete my Instagram account altogether.

Now, I am looking forward to going back and talk about the things I have been doing. The projects I have been trying out. The healing I have been going through. The wisdom I have learnt.

I am still feeling tired with my raising of kids and work so I am extending my break to the end of the summer.

What I miss the most about social media are the friends that I have made along the way.

Signing off was scary at first but just like any relationship, space is good for the soul!

Social media addiction

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Michelle Brady


Raghuraj solanki from Agra (Uttar Pradesh) on July 23, 2021:

Your article is helpful and good .

Michelle Brady (author) from Ottawa, ON on July 23, 2021:

Raghuraj - Probably a good thing haha This peace kinda feels pretty amazing lol

Raghuraj solanki from Agra (Uttar Pradesh) on July 22, 2021:

I do not use social media too much

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