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What Deleting Instagram Off My Phone For One Week Did For My Mental And Physical Health

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Drawing of an Instagram logoPHOTO: MIH83/PIXABAY.COM

According to Mark Sisson, the average young adult in America spends just about every waking hour with online access and actually uses the internet for approximately two hours a day. How much time do people really spend on Instagram instead of sleeping, getting work done, or interacting with others? Does an hour-long task really need a three-hour time slot simply because we can’t get ourselves off Instagram?

Sure, Instagram can be amazing— if used in the right doses. It’s a great creative outlet. But what happens if you drop it for a week and create moments and memories for yourself without sharing them online?

Realign Your Body

Have you ever found yourself unable to sleep in the wee hours of the morning? Did you decide to spend a few minutes scrolling through Instagram until you got sleepy again? After deleting the application, I realized that if I had the urge to reach over for my phone at night, there was no real reason to do so. No one was awake for me to text, and Facebook didn’t feel as entertaining.

Only then did I realize that the aesthetic attraction of Instagram was what I was seeking.

If you can’t sleep and find yourself browsing through Instagram, you’re looking for stimulation. Is stimulation something that you should be looking for when you’re trying to relax and sleep? And that’s without even thinking of the ways that blue light affects the body’s circadian rhythms; blue light at night totally throws you off balance.

Photo of Instagram login screen in darkPHOTO: PARAMPREETCHANANA/PIXABAY.COM

Disconnecting from Instagram kept me off my phone for long stretches of time. Instead of scrolling through tags and notifications when I opened my eyes in the morning and tagging friends in funny memes before “trying” to go to bed, I was simply living a more technologically free life.

In the span of a week, I felt like a more natural, connected human being solely by disconnecting from one application. Where you focus your time is where you focus your life, and little did I know I was giving mine away to nearly 1,000 people (about 702, to be exact), a lot of them (myself included) tagging themselves through moments of their lives instead of living them.

After this week, the main question I had to ask myself was, “Do I want my first and last waking moments of each day to consist of technological or human content?” Maybe stretching before bed, really focusing on every sip of that cup of tea, breathing, or just thinking of all the things I’m grateful for would give me more restful, peaceful sleep. And after fighting that urge to re-download the application, I have to say that those small changes really did rejuvenate me.

Photo of people socializing at a restaurantPHOTO: UNSPLASH/PIXABAY.COM

Reconnect with Others

Without my head nuzzled into my phone, I was able to zoom in on my own habits and pick up on the fact that I was disconnecting with others by connecting so often with Instagram. When I no longer had the app to kill time, I found myself using more of my hours connecting with the people around me, like the barista I saw every morning but never knew and the woman next to me reading a book by my favorite author.

During work breaks, the first thing I would normally do is go on Instagram. When this option wasn’t available, I began using those breaks as an opportunity to interact with people, and some of these small conversations scattered throughout my work regimen really made my day.

Photo of a human silhouette in sunset with mountains in backgroundPHOTO: BRAMJOTSINGHKOHLI/PIXABAY.COM

More “Me” Time

If you don’t spend as much time on Instagram, you become forced into engaging with the world around you. When I got bored of reading or doing work in a coffee shop, I actually began noticing the pictures on the walls and the architecture instead of jumping on my phone to scroll through someone else’s experience of doing just that (and then uploading a picture of it).

I became more integrated into the present moment because I had no other choice, and in doing so, I began finding aesthetics that were pleasing to me: the unedited version that I couldn’t see before. It also got me thinking about how often I compare myself to others through their pictures. Have you ever found an Insta page and thought, “Wow, I wish I had that style” or “I wish I had that body”?

Photo of a man holding camera with large lensPHOTO: TOM AND STEVE/GETTY IMAGES

This is such harmful thinking. I realized I was basing a lot of my self-worth on the ways in which I could brand myself, or if I could do something as well as the fitness acro-yoga-doing fashion expert beauty blogger I’d spent so much of my time admiring. Instead of exercising my ability to connect with others, I was neglecting it by comparing myself to their social media accounts. Once you rid yourself of these inevitable comparisons, you begin to feel way more empowered.

A week without Instagram will leave you…

Physically refreshed because you’ll become more invested in your body and mind in the mornings, evenings, and time in between thanks to more restful sleep.

Socially refreshed because you’ll find yourself connecting more with others around you.

Mentally refreshed because you’ll recognize your distinct and unique awesomeness and creativity without comparing yourself to others.

It’s a great reboot of your system that will leave you feeling empowered and inspired (and also a little excited to share what you’ve been keeping to yourself!).

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