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Why Taking A Break From Social Media Is Critical For My Self-Care Routine

Wellness

Have you ever had a moment when you were in a great mood and a great mental and emotional space, but came across something on your social media timeline that shifted your energy from confidence to comparison? Celebrated to frustrated? Joy to jealousy? Perhaps you felt like you were making progress in an area of your life, but then suddenly you felt as if you weren't as far along as you thought. Social media breaks and boundaries can help with this.


I can admit that every now and then, social media has a way of affecting my mind, body (how I feel about it), and spirit if I'm not careful. Hence, I proactively take social media breaks as a part of my self-care routine because:

It helps boost my confidence.

Social media is like a double-edged sword because just as quickly as you can find something positive on social media, you can just as quickly feed your soul something negative. Comparison kills confidence and unfortunately, social media is one of the best ways to do that. We're constantly in a state of comparing our success, our progress, our relationships, our careers, and our statuses through social media (amongst other things). I have found that taking a break from social media can really help you build your confidence back up when you're not overly consumed with it.

I'm more focused on my journey, not everyone else's.

Instagram, and everything in between, can get you caught up into thinking that you're supposed to have "insta-success," an "insta-fit-body," an "insta-Bae," or get "insta-rich." We have #RelationshipGoals but unrealistic expectations. Unfortunately, however, we're only privy to certain people's "highlight reel," not the "real deal" that goes on behind the scenes. I realize now more than ever - through my experiences as well as the experiences of others who have long-lasting success - that nothing happens overnight.

Sometimes the wait is the hardest part of the work, but I'm reminded to trust the process, trust God, and trust my dopeness.

It's easy to get so caught up in someone else's life that you forget about your own. I used to compare my journey to other people's, not realizing that my journey was never meant to be exactly like theirs. Not to mention the fact that quite honestly, I hadn't put in nearly the amount of work as those who were where I wanted to be. A sure-proof way you can limit and slow down your personal progress is to focus on someone else's.

I'm able to relax more.

I was at the nail shop the other day getting a pedicure. Most times, I use social media to keep me occupied, but this time, I was committed to keeping my phone in my purse so that I could actually unwind and enjoy feeling relaxed. At one point, I even nodded off and fell asleep. It was yet another realization for me that if I really want to enjoy more moments of feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, then I must be okay with being disconnected.

I'm able to embrace the gift of today and enjoy life more.

When I limit or take social media breaks, I find myself spending more genuine, quality time with my husband, and our family and friends, which always warms my heart and makes me feel wonderful. I have more time to read inspirational and thought-provoking books or study other forms of art. I actually enjoy vacations and traveling more. Instead of worrying about capturing, editing, and uploading every single image or video at that very moment, I actually live in the moment.

I'm more aware and appreciative of my own blessings.

Part of true happiness means being happy for someone else, but sometimes, when you're too focused on other people's blessings, it can make you forget about your own. For example, as a married woman, my spouse could buy me something this week as a sign of his love but then a week later, I could totally forget about it simply because of a gesture I might've seen someone else do for their spouse on social media. That's why every day before I start doing anything else, I begin each day with a prayer of thanksgiving and I read my daily devotional. I constantly remind myself that the things I currently have are the same things I once prayed for.

I'm more productive.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I started to do something, but didn't get around to it because I was distracted by a few minutes of scrolling that eventually turned into a two-hour social media exploration. This almost always leads to a lack of productivity, which is a trigger for my anxiety because then I feel the pressure of trying to fit a number of activities within a limited number of hours, days, or weeks. Nevertheless, I've noticed that when I limit my social media or create specific boundaries, I am more productive and my anxiety is much more controlled.

Social media doesn't control my life. I control it.

Although social media posts are critical for my brand, my overall self-care and the productivity of the rest of my life is more important. Hence, I've learned how to take breaks, turn off certain notifications, and I also practice the art of posting then dropping off so I'm not tempted to scroll through everyone's pages. My friends know that if there's something important that they want to share with me, then they can't assume that I will see it on social media because I'm not always on there, even if they've seen me post recently.

I'm in control of the energy I allow around me.

No matter how many positive pages, groups, or influencers I may follow, it's inevitable that someone or something will pop-up on my timeline that may not flow with my energy for the day. Sometimes, it's not even about what others may post; rather, it's about protecting my physical and mental space, as well as my energy. Like they say, "Sometimes elevation requires isolation." So, a lot of times, I will take a break from all of it so I can meditate and hear more intently and think more clearly. Plus, taking a break helps prevent my mind, body, and spirit from being overpowered and controlled by my social media interactions.

I'm more committed to doing me and what's best for me.

If we're not careful, we can become so obsessed with other people's lives that instead of being inspired by them, we start imitating them; causing us to feel confused or insecure about who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to be doing. I've learned, however, that the best woman I can be is the one that God specifically called and designed me to be.

Mary J. Blige said it best when she said, "I can only be me." I can't compare my life, my relationship, or my success to anyone else's. A happy and healthy version of myself is knowing that I'm not living my life merely for the popularity or praises from people on social media. Instead, I'm living life for the purpose I've been called to do, and you should too.

Featured image by Getty Images

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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