I took a social media break for self-care. Here’s how it made me prioritize my spirituality.
Recently, Nathan Zed published an amazing YouTube video on why he took a four month break from social media. For those who aren’t familiar, Zed is an Ethiopian-American YouTuber and former Viner who makes content on his channel and has a clothing line called “Good Enough.” He’s also just simply hilarious (in my opinion).
As a fan, I was excited to hear what he had to say after four months and even more thrilled when he said why he left. He just needed to work on improving himself, explaining that social media was becoming a distraction for him and dealing with daily obstacles in his life. Zed revealed that the results over time made him feel much more refreshed and calm about his life and allowed him to focus on his physical health and work on eating and exercise. He even went as far as to quit alcohol.
Zed also had a poignant point that I really resonated with when I decided to take my social media break: prioritizing God. Zed explained how he didn’t always put God in the plan or have a great relationship with Him and merely went to Him for stuff he needed. He also had a hard time leaving everything up to Him and just letting go of what was out of his own control.
And I feel like sometimes I do the same though I don’t like to admit it.
And as a worry wart and a planner, I struggle with letting things go and leaving things to God. Being somewhat of a perfectionist doesn’t help because traditionally when things don’t go my way I have a hard time of just letting God take care of it and believing in His power to take care of me due to a strong desire of always wanting to be in control. And that’s what we have in social media: the ability to control the narrative, manipulate the image and manufacture a perspective right at our fingertips. But real life doesn’t work that way — 99% of what we want to happen doesn’t go to plan the way we want it to.
Sure, I’d still get upset about things. But I was slowly realizing it was easier to let go. With that I realized I could move on to another day and try again, I just started putting more and more trust in God to take care of everything because I knew I had tried my best and I knew that He knew that too.
I also felt I could focus on my desired goals with a lot more clarity when I wasn’t looking at my phone 24/7. A few months earlier, I started a process of getting less addicted to my phone and made a conscious effort to not bring my phone to bed with me and instead leave it near my dresser. I had a stack of books on my night table that I hadn’t been reading and I had just bought a new stack. So I decided to read just a few pages a night before bed. Even if I just was able to read one or two pages, I would force myself to do it. And my goodness did it help. Since August I’ve managed to read four books and just started my fifth. Not only did I sleep much better, I felt more refreshed to wake up for morning prayers and recite the Qur’an. My brain just felt calm yet sharp. I worked a little bit harder in my prayers as a Muslim and really tried to use my Qur’anic recitation time to heart. I found that with less social media, I was more in tuned to what I was reciting even falling into a calming meditative state and feeling at peace.
I’m not here to be preachy or tell you that without God and spirituality, you’ll be doomed. We are all individuals with the freedom of conscience and thought. Just like you, I’m an imperfect individual with flaws who will continue to make new mistakes and learn from them to be better. But while reducing my social media use improved my awareness of God, it was a step that helped me get better in so many other aspects of my life — not just spiritual. I found a positive impact on my physical health for example. Though I exercise regularly, I didn’t realize how much junk I had been eating just because I saw a video on YouTube or a photo on Instagram. Or just because I felt bored and sluggish from staring at my screen. Recently, I’ve felt even furthur motivated to increase my exercise and go earlier in the morning as well as jogging outside because I just feel a sense of readiness to keep moving and achieving.
I recently took a mini break from Instagram. A full whopping seven days. Yeah I know insane. But I realized that I was feeling unnecessarily anxious and worried about the future and my path because I kept checking to see what other people were doing and comparing myself to them. During these seven days, I realized it wasn’t that I was just checking Instagram, but that I was checking excessively multiple times a day. I felt really unhappy with myself and felt like I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile compared to my friends and family. I realized I was just trying to avoid dealing with obstacles and work that needed to be achieved in my own life. While cutting out the app completely seemed too extreme for me — I’ve tried before only to hop back on excessively again — I decided that enjoying things in moderation is best. So I vowed once the seven days were over, I’d only check it once a day. And so far I have to say, it’s been really refreshing. I don’t feel the need to check my phone every few seconds because I’ve focused on myself, and when I finally do get a moment to check it, I enjoy what I see. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything or have a less fulfilling life, because I’m not using it to distract myself from my priorities. Instead, I feel content and at peace with my life and the achievements of others because I’m not stuck in a world of timelines and feeds.
I wasn’t always perfect with my daily prayers for sure, and sometimes I would bring my phone to bed and get lost in the rabbit hole of my Twitter timeline. But I knew I was trying to be better each day. I realized, just as Zed did that God is not expecting us to be perfect — we weren’t created that way, “He just wants to see progress”. Which is so true. We see God as we perceive Him.
I’m reminded of a hadith or saying of the Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him) which goes like this: “If a person takes one step towards God Almighty, He will take two steps towards him and that if one walks towards God, He will run towards him” (Bukhari).
A break from social media can improve our lifestyle not just mentally, but spiritually, physically and even professionally as well. I didn’t realize I would feel such a calm sense of self, a new feeling of confidence and a strong connection to God always being there.
Even now I struggle with consolidating my screen time. But I have certainly become more conscious of it. But just like everything in life, using social media is all about moderation. Zed also concluded that it’s not the evil of the world either and can be used in a healthy way. But it’s important to know that you live your own reality, your own life and exist in a world created by a living God. When we seek to reach Him away from distractions, we will always find a positive change in our lives.