Wednesday morning last week I was browsing my podcast app looking for something new to listen to when I came across Crappy to Happy – 3 Mindful Minutes by Cass Dunn. I don’t usually go for these types of podcasts because I find them to be a bit too woo woo for me. You know what I mean right? The fake sounding voice, the calming music in the back ground and the constant reminder to “just take a breath.” However, I decided to give this one a go on account that each episode was only 3-4minutes long. That’s a manageable amount of woo woo. Given that I am seriously struggling with body image atm, the most recent episode which coincidentally was on this very topic seemed like a good place to start.
As I drove to work listening to this episode Cass dished out advice on how to develop a more positive body image and work towards loving yourself. Most of her advice was pretty generic and nothing I haven’t heard before, but at one point she started discussing how only 5% of women have the body idealised by the wider society, and that really surprised me.
“No,” I thought, “that can’t be right. I’ve seen so many people who are way smaller than me.”
She then went on to explain how this body type is pushed through social media and suggested unfollowing those accounts that make you feel bad about your own body. Now, I have definitely heard this advice before, but today, for some reason, I actually responded to it, not just heard it. I began to think about how many accounts I follow that promote unrealistic body expectations or are constantly posting photos of women in bikinis. I realised that following those accounts makes me feel bad about myself. That I’m just not in the headspace to really be able to appreciate their posts without tearing myself down in the process.
As I pulled into a car park I made the decision to delete Instagram off my phone for the next week and give myself some time to disconnect and heal and once I was in a better space, I could go through the accounts I follow and unfollow a few. To help me track this process and hold myself accountable, I decided to document my experience each day.
I deleted Instagram off my phone at around 9:30am and found myself stuck with what to do with myself during those quiet moments. I mostly did okay, but have realised that I am constantly accessing my phone as something to do. Without Instagram I found myself playing around on Kindle with a book I don’t even like. And when I arrived early to an appointment this afternoon I was desperate enough to log into Facebook, which isn’t something I usually do. Hopefully this won’t become a habit.
Today was much better; I actually didn’t even feel the desire to check Instagram once. I am also feeling ‘lighter’ and am talking to myself in a much more kind manner. When I go swimming I usually experience a bit of negative self talk about my body, but today, rather than focusing on the appearance of my body, I focused on what my body could do. It was a really empowering experience.
The real test will be over the weekend as I have a habit of sitting on the couch and watching Netflix while I scoll on my phone.
Days 4 & 5
I didn’t feel the urge to check Instagram once over the weekend. However, I put this down to the fact that I spent a considerable amount of time on my Nintendo DS. It’s like I just swapped one time waster for another.
On Sunday evening I listened to a Podcast called From Crappy to Happy, ep. 49 Optimising Your Digital Wellbeing which was really interesting. It discussed the negative and positive impacts of our obsession and constant use of digital medias on our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Overall I found this episode really intersting and I intend to listen to it again at some stage because so much was covered and I think I missed a few things. However, one thing it did discuss was that ‘digital detoxes’ don’t really work because those that participate in them tend to go on a digital binge once their detox is complete. It’s given me somehting to think about in terms of how this little experience will end and what I want the ongoing effects of it to be.
Wow. The craving to check Instagram is strong today. I’m not entirely sure why. I even have the urge to check Facebook which is something that very rarely happens. I have decided not to give into this urge because I think it comes from a place of a general craving for social media.
Funnily enough, despite having reached my last day of my ‘detox’ I’m not feeling too desperate to log in and begin scroling again. I think the ‘craving’ was far more intense yesterday strangely. I finaly logged on for about 30 minutes later in the evening and tbh wondered why I was so addicted to this thing. There really wasn’t anything new, it was all the same old stuff.
I have really enjoyed how I have felt without Instagram. I think not being bombarded with images and videos of amazing bodies and fitness routines that I have been banned from doing (or even trying) by my physical therapist for the time being has been really positive. I’m less judgemental on the appearance of my body and just feel lighter. I have also begun to enjoy those periods of ‘white space’, those times when you are waiting in line for your coffee that you usually fill by looking at your phone. When I first started this week, I swapped scrolling for reading on the Kindle app on my phone, but as the week the progressed I stopped doing this and am learning to just be with my thoughts.
Despite this, I can’t help but think about what I learned from the podcast episode I listened to on Sunday about digital detoxes. I want to retain this feeling of freedom and lightness but I also want to be able to use Instagram. I have friends on there that don’t live near by and I have missed my connection to them. My plan to address this is to keep Instagram off my phone for now but keep it on my tablet. This will mean that if I want to go in Instagram I will only be able to do it on my tablet which will hopefully install and element of mindfullness into my Instagram scrolling as I won’t just be able to do it anywhere at any time.
I also want to spend some time deleting those accounts that post fitness content or other images that make me feel negative about myself. As I said before, all power to them for posting that type of content, but I just can’t appreciate it at this time without putting myself down. Maybe when I’m in a better space I can re-follow them.
Have you done a digital detox or deleted an app that was making you unhappy? How did that work out for you?