Lessons from Social Media Free Sundays.

Lessons from Social Media Free Sundays.

For the past four Sundays, I’ve done a thing I’ve been calling “social media free Sundays.” It’s really Instagram-free Sundays as that is the only app I seem to have a problem with.

I am an addict. The actual posting and sharing part of Instagram is not the problem. It’s the checking in for validation part, and the consuming other people’s content that are the problem. I can sit down for “a minute” and suddenly thirty minutes have gone by in a blink as I watch other people’s stories. Checking in to see how many likes my photos have. Replying to comments. Replying to DMs. Seeing how many people have viewed my stories. ETC. ETC. It’s a real rabbit hole.

I have thought about taking days off for a while now, but as a person who makes a living from the Internet, that felt scary. (The funny thing is that truly, nobody even notices if you take a day or two off… it was all in my own head…) But I often feel tired and burnt out (and addicted), and none of those things are good feelings to have.

So at the beginning of the year I decided that one of my goals would be to take one full day away from the ‘gram, every week. Maybe I will make it two. Wild and crazy. Being an addict, I have to actually delete the app from my phone on Saturday night and reinstall it on Monday morning. I have to tell you, it’s been great! Every Saturday night, I (somewhat gleefully?) delete the app from my phone, and every Monday morning I (ready and needing my fix) re-install it. I wish I had the discipline to just not look at it vs totally deleting it, but I know myself.

Lessons from Social Media Free Sundays.

Here are some of the things I’ve noticed after four weeks.

The most jarring thing I noticed was the first Sunday, when I grabbed my phone as soon as I woke up, to do my usual scroll. When the app was not there, I felt a little sad!

I am much more mindful of how often I grab for my phone.

I have really thought about what else I could do INSTEAD of all that scrolling and mindless consumption. Write! Read more books! Listen to podcasts. Meditate. Exercise. Call my parents. I could go on, but my life is not that exciting.

I find my day is much more peaceful (for better or worse) without Instagram. It was positive for the most part but at times… I felt a little bit bored? I am never bored; there is always someone to reply to or something new to see. It was honestly a little refreshing to feel bored!

I started doing crossword puzzles. I have the NY Times app and love it. It’s still screentime, but… screentime for my brain?

I really like doing this. It feels like I am doing something really positive for both myself and the people in my life. Overall, I feel calmer, more present, and more mindful of my little Instagram problem. I’m going to keep doing this for the foreseeable future and maybe even add in another day off. I don’t hate Instagram, I’m not planning to “quit,” it’s the opposite: I feel really lucky to have Instagram be something that contributes to my livelihood. But like so many things, we appreciate them more when we take breaks.

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Comments

  1. I think it’s a great challenge/habit! I too am addicted to social media – perhaps I should try this too? ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Katie says 2.10.21

    Hi Grace,

    Thank you so much for this post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about so much, as Instagram is the app I have a problem with too. I’ve deleted it off my phone for a few weeks and it’s made a difference, but I’ve been trying to reflect and dig a little deeper as to WHY it’s so hard not to look at it (I have it on my iPad, a kind of terrible user experience but it’s still somewhat accessible when I’m home). I’ve concluded that, for me, it’s the feeling that I’ll “miss something” if I don’t “check in”. And the really crazy part? I’m not worried about missing something from my friends (I talk to them enough, and I hate to say it, don’t really care about their day to day), I’m worried about missing something from the handful of influencers I follow (you, Becca, Ashley Spivey, etc.). Just let that sink in…I’m worried about missing something from people I don’t even know. I guess take it as a compliment that every few days I check IG on my iPad to see what you’re up to? But it’s just so dumb and pathetic. I’ve decided that by following your blog (as I still religiously do) and podcast, I should be kept up so speed enough on your life. And in the meantime, I’m going to really examine why I care about people’s lives whom I’ve never met (no offense!).

    Thank you so much for this timely post, as it’s something I’ve clearly been thinking about a lot!

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      I feel this!!!! I feel the same, like I will miss something from the influencers I follow, or miss something from people (also people I don’t even know!) who follow me. Which yes technically makes sense as Instagram is a part of my job but breaks are so good too. I am not offended at all and really just happy you come to the blog, as that is still where I put in the most effort!!! Thanks for the thoughtful comment!

  3. mary says 2.10.21

    I love that you do this. I still don’t think I could go a whole day without Instagram, but I am trying to reduce my screen time. I bought one of the NYTimes Crossword Puzzle booklets at Barnes and Noble and it’s a good way to do the puzzles and stay totally off the phone without having to subscribe to the paper. Plus, it has the answers in a key in the back.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      Honestly, I didn’t think I could do it either but then I did it and I was like WOW that was great!!!! Give it a try, you may be surprised!

  4. Jessica Camerata says 2.10.21

    I think this is so smart to do. I have a few phone rules, but not enough. Love the idea of a phone free day!

    xo Jessica
    an indigo day

  5. Love this whole post! I think 2020 put social media consumption on the forefront of everyone’s brain because I have had SO many conversations with friends and family about this topic. While I haven’t felt the need to delete the app (yet), I have somewhat forced myself to not share anything on weekends. It’s been very eye-opening to see how often I feel the NEED to share literally nothing beneficial to anyone . The one app I have completely deleted from my phone and life is Twitter, I was using it as my only news source and when I said that out loud to someone I was so embarrassed lol.

    xoxo Logan

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      Oh my god I deleted twitter off my phone for that very reason!!!!!! I have said the same thing to friends and then been like “wtf is wrong with me!!!”

  6. Carlee says 2.10.21

    Hi, Grace! I deleted my Instagram and Snapchat accounts around 4 years ago and have never looked back! They both took such a huge toll on my mental health. My mental headspace has been significantly better without them! Also, keeps me on my phone less. Win win. I know you obviously can’t delete your Instagram account due to your job but I think your weekly detox sounds awesome! Good for you 🙂 I am currently pursuing my Masters in Social Work and funny enough my professor assigned us this article to read and thought you may enjoy it.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/06/30/a-run-down-of-social-medias-effects-on-our-mental-health/?utm_source=Angst%2BMailing%2BList&utm_campaign=45778dee95-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_14_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_400a31f7fb-45778dee95-71699769&sh=5a8ed9662e5a

    XO,
    Carlee

  7. Hayley says 2.10.21

    This is a great idea, and I’m glad it’s working out so well for you! I get into this pattern of checking way too much and it just leaves me feeling so hollow. I like Instagram but I just don’t need to look at it as often as I do sometimes – my muscle memory is so strong that occasionally I’ll pick up my phone to do something quite different and end up unintentionally opening Instagram!

    If anyone else experiences this, one thing that’s working well for me is forcing myself to go do something physical anytime I get that hollow feeling – cooking or exercise or tidying or gardening – anything that means my hands are occupied. So far so good but I think the next step is a totally social media free day a week. I already have a rule that I don’t post while I’m on holiday or with my daughter and I think extending that to consumption is a good idea for me also!

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      I love love love that tip so much, and plan on implementing it myself! Thank you for sharing.

  8. Chelsea Finn says 2.10.21

    I love this idea so much! I’m glad to hear it’s been a success, I might try it myself soon!

    xx Chelsea
    http://www.organizedmessblog.com

  9. Lisa says 2.10.21

    Oh I LOVE THIS!!!! I think I will start this practice on Sunday’s as well, as I begin building my side biz (and know that this could be a problem)! I have benefited a lot from Instagram (the connections! the inspiration!) but it has also depleted my energy a lot! Another boundary I’m planning on implementing: mindful consumption and thoughtful engagement (I find that when I do these things, I enjoy IG a lot more and feel much happier). less scrolling, more reading!

    So excited to apply your tip to my own life! 😀

    Lisa
    http://www.theeverydayelevated.com
    http://www.theelevatedesthetician.com

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      Agree, there has to be a balance. Instagram is amazing but breaks are great. Let me know how it goes!!!

  10. Heidi says 2.10.21

    Grace, I’ve been doing social media-free Sundays with you for the past three weeks. Thanks so much for the push to try it – I am making it a goal to continue for the whole year (and onward). I go to bed on Sunday night without scrolling through my phone – aka I enter a new week feeling refreshed (and I impulsively go to the app muchhh less now). For me, too much Instagram scrolling negatively affects my self esteem. Removing the app for one day/week has made a big difference!

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      Aw yay that makes me so happy! It really makes me feel so refreshed on Mondays. And same re: self esteem!

  11. Erica says 2.10.21

    I am also addicted to Instagram. I found myself mindlessly scrolling for FAR longer than I’d like. I delete the app on Friday night and reinstall it on Monday night. It’s resulted in a much better start to the week! I still check it on my desktop during those days, but overall spend much less time on Instagram and my phone in general!

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      It’s the mindless scrolling that kills me! Good on you for taking a whole weekend off!!!

  12. MD says 2.10.21

    I love this Grace! I wish more bloggers, or really just ANYONE, would be honest about this. It’s one of those semi shameful topics I’ve been bringing up with friends and getting a lot of “I thought I was the only one THIS bad.”

    I lost my job this winter, and while I’m actually enjoying/needed the break, it’s a little frustrating to not be able to do most of my favorite activities, and I’ve found myself sinking deeper and deeper into an addiction to being on my phone. At first I said it was because I was home bored alone all day, but then it started taking my attention even when my husband was back from work. I couldn’t even look at my screen time on my phone, because I was so embarrassed and ashamed. I had to delete Instagram, but I’ll still find myself spending crazy amounts of time on random apps, like searching for the perfect earrings I’m envisioning in my head on Etsy or reading random Reddit threads.

    I’ve been reading How To Break Up With Your Phone, and I highly recommend it. It’s written in a totally non-judge mental tone, by a journalist who covers health and wellness topics/a fellow phone addict, and it’s a more fun read than I expected.

    One thing I’ve been doing for my own sanity is turning off my phone for two hours a day every day. I don’t put a lot of other restrictions on that time. If I want to watch TV during that time I watch TV, but I actually pay attention! It’s helped me notice how often I read for my phone just because I feel bored and start to break that habit.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      Oh I am so happy you enjoyed the post. There is no shame!! And we are in a pandemic soooooooo we need to allow ourselves little indulgences. But breaks are good. I need to read that book.

  13. Sarah says 2.10.21

    If you need to delete, this probably won’t help much, but recently I set up a time limit on my phone by app for certain things. It has definitely helped me limit my time on things like Instagram. You can snooze it for more time or ignore for the day, but that’s a lot of guilt. Ha! So it works pretty well.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      My friend Becca (who I do the podcast with) does that too!!! Maybe I’ll add a time limit too.

  14. Cassidi says 2.10.21

    You inspired me to take time off the gram and I love it!

  15. Sarah says 2.10.21

    I just did this with Twitter and was happy to see that the iphone now has an option to remove an app from your homescreen rather than deleting it – and I haven’t opened Twitter all week because I don’t see it anymore. I think it was the mindless switching from app to app and not realizing what a time suck it was. I’ve also been curating my Instagram to mute most people’s stories that I don’t know or really just skip past and that’s helped to cut down a lot of time I was spending on the app. It’s such an odd thing to be addicted to but it’s also a main form of entertainment when you live alone in a pandemic?

  16. Morgan says 2.10.21

    I love the idea of a mindful practice around this, I tried to spend less time on it but I think you’re right. I need to start with a day where it’s just not available to me! Also thanks so much for having this amazing blog, I am always excited to get an email each day.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      YES! Give it a go, and please report back!

      And that is so kind, thank you – I’m so happy you enjoy this space!

  17. Theodora says 2.10.21

    Oh eep! When you posted about this a few weeks ago, I decided to delete too and managed to keep it off my phone for at least a week or so. I’m in grad school and feel like I never have enough time for my work…and then I realize how much time I waste scrolling.

    We talked about social media addiction in my addiction class last quarter. It’s not (yet?) a DSM diagnosis, so it’s not covered by insurance…but it’s real. I don’t remember where I heard this, but I heard something like “the only other thing we call people ‘users’ of is drugs.” I kind of butchered that quote but it reminded me of how it is literally engineered to keep us going back to it. I try to remember that sometimes when I find myself down the rabbit hole—this app is literally preying on me right now to keep scrolling in search of that dopamine hit.

    • grace at the stripe says 2.10.21

      A week is amazing!!!!! And that is so interesting. I really think it is an addiction. It’s a tricky line for me to balance when so much of my income is tied to it; right now I’m thinking weekends off is the best solution.

  18. Lisa Autumn says 2.11.21

    As Social Media is also my job I barely use it on the weekends and honestly love it!

    Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  19. Kerin says 2.11.21

    I’m going to try and do this starting this Sunday! I have some books and workouts saved that “I don’t have time for,” yet I seem to have plenty of time for screen time based on my phone’s data!

  20. Katie says 2.11.21

    My favorite days are when I “forget”my phone exists for a huge chunk of time. It’s so liberating. Should probably give this a try!!

  21. Annie says 2.11.21

    This has been a major issue for me, too! In 2019 I decided to go cold turkey and stop using all social media for the full year. Part of it was I hated how much time it wasted, but another part was how much it bothered me that these platforms were designed to be addictive and it was working on me. It was hard at first (I had dreams about slipping up!) but after the first two weeks it got easier. I stopped comparing myself to what other people were doing. I started hearing more stories from my friends directly and having more to check in about because we didn’t assume we knew what was going on based on stories or posts. I read more—way more! I put away my phone while waiting in checkout lines and elevators and other in-between places and looked up instead. 

    I kept my accounts and pop back on now and again, but I don’t find myself mindlessly reaching for my phone so much anymore, even two years later. I’m mindful of who I follow and the few stories I will regularly watch. I applaud how intentional you’re being about your consumption and taking time for yourself. I feel like I took control back and I hope you do too!

  22. Heidi Kimmick says 2.13.21

    I started “social free Sundays” in June after spending sooo much time scrolling social media during lock down. I have continued with it and truly love it. My Sunday is now more peaceful and I start my week on a positive note. Enjoy!