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Sober Nation

Putting Recovery On The Map

04-09-18 | By

I Did A Social Media Cleanse… Here’s What Happened

In light of the buzz from the #deletefacebook movement, you’ve likely been thinking a lot about the role that social media plays in our lives. I know I have.

Social media has become and extension of who we are as people. Second nature, if you will. It often controls us instead of the other way around. So much so that we forget how much we can control what we see and experience through it.

Here’s How to Do a Social Media Cleanse

I’ve personally quit Facebook and Instagram on multiple occasions, each with varying degrees of success. All of my friends make fun of me endlessly for my commitment issues. With over five separate attempts I’ve learned a lot about the ins and outs of an “off-the-grid” kind of life. Here are some tips I’ve picked up and lessons I’ve learned about my social media-free time.

Disable Notifications

In a world of hyper connectivity, it’s no wonder we are in a constant state of overwhelm. Yes, we’re more connected socially than we’ve ever been before, depending on who you ask. But we’re also seeing increased cases of cyber-bullying, more depression and anxiety, and Facebook addiction has legitimately become a thing. At least that’s what early Facebook investor, Sean Parker, alluded to in a recent interview with Axios.

“The inventors, creators—it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people–understood this consciously. And we did it anyway,” Parker told Axios in late 2017.

We often forget that even though it has so much power over us, we can wield it back. Start by controlling which notifications are most important and turning off the ones that aren’t. Worried about FOMO? Don’t be. Use the tactics that you’ve learned in recovery (like a gratitude practice) to pull yourself through.

Turn Off Memories

We live in a world where our worst decisions can not only be tracked down but proverbially thrown back in our faces. It’s happened to the best of us. You’re scrolling through your Facebook feed, as one does, and you see something that stops you in your tracks. It could have been a photo of the last time you had a drink in your hand or worse, a friend who has since then passed away. Working in this field, I can’t tell you how many of these I see on a weekly basis. While the Facebook memories feature was created with the best of intentions, there are some things we’d all like to keep in the past.

Well did you know there is a way to stop this madness? It’s true. You can access your Facebook Memories and tailor it so that you only see what you want to see. Kind of like creating your own custom Facebook experience. In early recovery and beyond this can be an amazing tool to help you steer clear of potential triggers or memories you’d like to keep in the past.

Unfollow Toxic People Who Don’t Support Your new Lifestyle

According to Molly from Whole Hearted Woman, there are three major reasons to unfollow someone.

  • What they post isn’t serving you anymore
  • Their posts bring up negative feelings (or memories)
  • You generally feel overwhelmed by how often they share

I’d like to add a fourth: if someone isn’t contributing in a positive way to your recovery, whether intentional or indirectly, let them go. Not that it matters but they won’t even know you’ve decided to pull the plug on your mutual digital relationship. Unfollowing (and other awesome features like “muting” Instagram Stories) is completely anonymous. People change – it’s true. Especially in recovery. Your mindset is shifting, your life is changing, and sometimes that means that your social circle will need a little makeover, too. It’s usually for the best.

Spend Less Time On Your Phone and More Time Doing Other Things

What other things? Well I’m glad you asked.

It’s hard at first but you’ll find with time it gets much easier to put the phone down and focus on other things. When I stopped following people (and companies – let’s face it – we’re constantly being marketed to) that were no longer serving me, I felt lighter. I spent less time comparing my life to the lives of others and more time truly connecting to those who are important to me both online and in real life.

Here’s a shortlist of how my life changed for the better:

  • Had time for more meaningful side projects and hobbies
  • Made new friends – offline
  • Had deeper conversations with my friends, family, and co-workers
  • Had less of an emotional connection to the material things in my life
  • My mental health noticeably improved
  • I did more productive work
  • Was more active (yoga, meditation, exercise)

Turning off Facebook Memories helps enormously in leaving the past in the past. Anyone who doesn’t lift you up or support you has got to go. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. When you spend less time on your phone and more time doing what truly fulfills you, your world and your mind will open right up.

If you’ve ever thought of doing what I like to call a social media cleanse, there is no time like the present. Have you tried it? I’d love to hear about it. Tweet at me @lindstdh.

 

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