I was on a hiatus from social media for the last few weeks. At first, I took a complete break from all of my social media handles for fifteen days. The plan was to stay away from being socialize at least for some days as I was going through a phase of grief. I wanted to absorb the pain and let myself grieving.
Then, after fifteen days, I gradually started to coming back to social media. As you know, in this era of digitalization, we can’t live long without using gadgets and social media platforms. Although I started sharing posts on my handles, still I was not using them in a greater extent. I totally stopped using one and partially used rest of the platforms. I was very less active than usual times and stopped scrolling. I only logged in, posted my updates and then logged out. I tried to be there as least as I could.
After a long gap I am now back to my usual routine of being present in the digital platforms and social media. So, today, I was contemplating on my experience with this phase of unplugged. And what I discovered, are some beautiful facts about life. That, it’s possible to live some days without being plugged in to the social media and digital platforms. That, sometimes, unplugging is a nice strategy to keep yourself focused on your priority list. That, unplugging gives you peace of mind and a chance to connect to yourself mindfully.
How plugging in affects your mind:
When you are plugged in for a long time to the digital platforms or social media or you are using electronic gadgets, you might end up with these situations:
It often happens that after scrolling through for a longer period of time, you might feel overwhelmed with the presence of other people on social media. We have hundreds of brilliant content creators around us, they are creating great contents everyday, and posting them on their social media handles. When you spend more time with these, it’s obvious that at a certain point of time, you might feel that you are not doing enough works as others. Then, you start feeling overwhelmed with their stunning presence and start planning to do something creative, something productive as soon as possible. This leads you to anxious state of mind. As a result, you become puzzled, confused, and restless.
Another thing that comes to mind when you are plugged in to the social media or using different digital platforms, after some time, you might start feeling yourself unworthy. That, you are not a good creator. That, everyone seems busy in life, only I am lying here lazy. That, everyone is spending quality time with their family and friends, but I can’t have this now. You might feel that your voice doesn’t matter at all. Your creativity doesn’t add any value to other’s lives. Why should you work at all? This kind of thoughts will lead you arise self-doubt and you would end up having lower self-esteem.
Feeling lonely and exhausted:
Sometimes, it might happen that after checking other’s posts on social media and spending time with contents on digital platforms, you might feel alone. Because, the fact is whatever be the time we spend with our family, friends, or travelling or doing something engaging, we do feel lonely at times. When you keep yourself plugged in the virtual world for a longer time, this thought comes to your mind that after all, at the day’s end, I am all alone. This might be the situation for many of us after spending a longer time in the digital world. So, it’s a nice idea to take a break from the virtual world for at least a day in a week or if possible, a specific period of time like ten to fifteen minutes or half an hour or even one full hour, by unplugging from all kind of electronic gadgets and engaging yourself in some other activities. And this is what Digital Detox called.
Digital Detox is a certain period of time that you dedicate to the purpose of unplugging yourself from using electronic devices like smartphones or computers and purposefully use that time to connect to yourself mindfully. When you are refrain from the digital world for a specific period of time, this gives you an opportunity to reduce stress and anxiety. It helps you to focus on interacting more socially in the physical world instead of being present in the virtual world.
How unplugging helps you to connect to yourself mindfully:
Disconnecting yourself from the digital world gives you a beautiful opportunity to spend time with yourself and explore your inner journey.
Setting your time limit:
It’s always a good idea to set a time limit for being plugged in to the electronic gadgets you are using or the social media you are currently logged in. It helps you to finish your essential tasks within that preset frame of time and you can easily log out or unplug yourself after that time limit. Setting a time frame affirms your mind that all the works are done and this affirmation paves the way towards peace of mind.
Connect, communicate and contemplate:
This is my strategy to use social media platforms. At first, connect to the outer world, communicate with your circle, and then, come back to your inner world and contemplate your experience. This way, you can keep your peace of mind even after using the social media for a bit longer than usual. You can read more about this strategy here.
Setting your priority list:
Setting your priority list is another important task that you must do when you are planning to unplug yourself from the virtual world. Keep the task you need to execute at first, and plan the list accordingly. Do them one by one, one task at a time. This technique helps you to keep things organized in your life and thus, your mind refrains from wandering around.
Maintain a journal:
When you are unplugged from the digital world, you can keep a journal and express your thoughts on paper, either through words or arts. Journaling helps you to bring clarity to your vision. It’s an effective way through which you can connect to your inner self in a deeper way.
An act of self-discovery:
I have seen it many times that whenever I take a break from social media or other digital platforms and engage myself in something creative, it gives me a chance to explore myself in a new way. Unplug yourself from all kind of digital media and involve yourself in something that helps you to connect to your inner self. Give yourself a chance to pause, to ponder, and embark on the way of self-discovery.
Finding something else to be plugged in:
Now we are living in such a way that spending an hour without using gadgets or checking in to social media or surfing the internet seems a Herculean task for all of us. But, could you remember, how was your life before these things became an inevitable part of your daily routine?
Life was simple and sweet. There was more peace of mind as we were more connected to the real world than the virtual world. We used pen and paper to write down our random thoughts (though many of us do this still, but this good habit is nearly disappearing from life). We called our friends and relatives from the telephone booth on the weekend, and as the time limit was short for every call, the conversation was more mindful at that time. We had the television set and the transistor as the only medium of entertainment. Recreation was reading good books, listening to oldies in the radio shows, going to the market with families for dinner, evening walk in the nearby parks, talking to the old people to gather wisdom (and that’s why there was respect for them that I often see lacking in this generation kids) and helping them in chores, playing with neighborhood kids and lots more. At that time, we celebrated life, everyday.
But now everything has changed. We are too connected to the digital world that we forget to take a look at what is happening in the real world. But there are still ways that can help you to stay unplugged from the digital world. I have picked some of them here.
Try these activities to take a mindful break:
When you are unplugged from the digital world, you can also try:
- Learning new skill
- Connecting to your old friends
- Playing indoor and outdoor games
- Playing with children
- Spending more time with family
How I unplugged from the digital world:
As I paused for some days and relished myself in some peaceful moments, I want to share my experience with you all. Here is how I spent the time:
Being a thinker:
This is one of the best thing that happened during the state of unplugging. I focused on introspection and had a deeper look at my inner self. And what happened next is a magic!
Although, I was dwelling in pain, I thought of involving in some creative tasks to divert my attention and spending time being a creative soul. I was back to singing after many months. I spent some time with my singing, almost everyday. And that lead me to start a new venture. My sister and I made a number of videos with her arts and my singing. And now, we have created our YouTube channel and we are uploading our videos there to share them with our friends and family members. I really enjoyed the whole process.
Being a reader:
This break gave me a great opportunity to finish some unread books from my library. One of them is ‘Here, There And Everywhere’ by Sudha Murty, the book I enjoyed reading a lot for the beautiful short stories.
That time (even I am doing this still now) I was me. The real me. The carefree me. The calm me. I read my favorite books, I was into singing, watching my mom doing crafts and my sister doing arts, looked at the blue sky (I so love to see the sky and the sea for their vastness), stared at the empty road, and just let myself be me. The real me whom I love, I care, and I am proud of. And what is the best thing that happens when you spend more time with yourself is, your values and choices become more important to you.
And tell me, what could be better in life?
Take a break to unplug yourself from the digital world and give yourself a chance to connect to the inner self mindfully. What’s your idea of digital detox? How would you like to spend your time with yourself taking a break from the virtual world? Do let me know your views on that.
(This post is a part of the series ‘Mindful Living with Swarnali’. Check other posts of this series here.)