I love social media … most of the time. It’s incredible that we have the ability to connect with friends, family, and people from all around the world. Personally, I’m grateful for the opportunity to use my social platforms as a form of sharing God’s message of love. Over the last several years, I’ve been using my social media more than ever with the intention to reach people who don’t know Christ, to give them hope, inspiration, and knowledge, through sharing my story. Particularly, my story of how I’m battling chronic, invisible illness. So why did I go on a social media fast for a month? And yes, I mean to say I didn’t post on or even look at social media for an entire month!
I’d been feeling incredibly overwhelmed. My mind felt cluttered, and anxiety would creep in on me when I saw all the messages and comments that I couldn’t get to. As a content creator, it’s incredibly important for me to be consistent. Keep uploading videos. Keep responding to messages. Always be there for everyone. The list of things to stay on top of goes on and on. My life started to feel like a job that I couldn’t ever take a break from. I was trying to keep up with being who I thought everyone needed me to be, and at the same time, I was struggling to actually just be me.
Have you ever felt that way? Overextended, overwhelmed, and under-rested? I know that stress is the enemy of wellness. So I decided, if I was going to heal, something in my life needed to change.
Why We Need a Break From Social Media
I talked to some family members about how I was feeling. One of them suggested taking a month off of all social media, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, to learn to live and enjoy my life again. Just a side note: It can be a challenge to find ways to just enjoy life when you’re daily struggling with significant health challenges, but it’s so important. I really needed to figure out what it looked like for me to have fun again.
I was slightly hesitant, but I knew it was what I needed to do in my heart. So I decided that during my fast, my focus would be on these three things:
- Draw closer to Jesus.
- Focus on physical healing.
- Learn to have fun again.
The day before I started the fast, I began feeling anxious. Just the thought of not being able to see what people were saying gave me a weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. Probably a sign that I was a little bit addicted.
Listen to a podcast interview with Mandy.
Finally, the fast began. The first couple of days I kept myself busy, so I didn’t really even notice that I was missing anything. But as that first week went on, I found myself looking to other things to distract myself. I mean, I thought I was doing the right thing by taking this break. I thought I’d feel more relaxed. I thought I’d try to foster my sense of fun again. I didn’t expect to learn anything really new or profound. But I was wrong. I didn’t expect to learn three big lessons God was waiting to teach me as soon as I settled down and opened up my schedule a bit!
3 Big Lessons from my Social Media Fast:
- Social media doesn’t just distract me from engaging with other people, but it also distracts me from myself.
Because of my health challenges, I don’t get to be as social as I’d like to be, so I spend quite a bit of time alone. I am currently in a tough season, and I can have a lot of emotions to work through. I’m not going to have the emotional and spiritual healing that I need if I keep diverting my attention from what God is doing in my heart, to what is going down on the ‘gram.’ During my fast, I started shifting the way I spent my morning quiet time with God, and the way that I reflect on my day as I journal. Slowly, but surely, I was able to be more present, even with myself. As I mentioned earlier, I was pretty nervous about not being able to be there for people when they are trying to reach out to me. Social media has changed so much, and right now, it seems like if someone can find your Instagram handle or your Facebook profile, they essentially have your cell phone number. That is pretty bizarre if you think about it. That’s when I started to learn my next big lesson.
- You don’t have to give everyone access to you. Learn to say no.
This was freeing for me. I’m the type of person who often struggles to say no, but thankfully, my health battle has actually forced me to get better at this. Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes, has really been a game-changer for me too, and I highly recommend it. I’m going to choose to say no to some things, so that I can say yes to the best things. We all have opportunities every day to say yes to another Facebook group, yes to follow another 50 Instagram accounts, yes to responding to every single DM and comment … but if we’re continually spreading ourselves thinner and thinner, then what are we really accomplishing?
In the last two weeks of my fast, I was loving life. I was spending a lot of time with Jesus, my family, and just time by myself dreaming about my future.
Here’s more about fasting.
Before I knew it, I was getting close to the end of my fast, and I started reflecting on my experience. I thought about all the posts I must have missed. I was sure some of my friends got engaged and others probably had babies. I bet some of my favorite YouTubers uploaded some really awesome content, and I was sure there were some important notifications for me to get back to.
All of those things that I probably missed out on are good things. Like I’ve said, I love how social media connects us. But at the end of the day, that’s not what truly matters.
That’s what brings me to the final point I want to share with you.
- There can be value in connecting from screen to screen, but true connection often happens face to face.
This is something I think we all know, but it’s important to be reminded. Don’t forget how important the flesh-and-blood people around you really are. My favorite thing about my fast was all of the time that I spent face to face with my husband and my family. Whoever I’m with, I want to be fully present. Not distracted by notifications, but loving others the way Christ loves. Even more importantly, I don’t want anything in my life to distract me from my relationship with Jesus. I’m back on social media now, and I love using my platforms to make a difference. But I realize more than ever how addictive social media can be. I know it’s crucial to learn to set boundaries to always do what matters most—loving Jesus. Loving people. Fully present. I choose to use social media to connect with others and to further our mission of leading people to Jesus, but simultaneously, I’m not going to let it keep me from being who God has created me to be by distracting me from what really matters.
So, am I recommending everyone try a social media fast? For a whole month? Well, maybe. I for sure recommend regularly taking time away from social media, even if it’s just a weekend here and there. I benefited so much from my time away, and I believe you will, too.