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How a 24 hour break from Instagram turned into 3 months . . .

Let me start by saying; I love Instagram.  I love posting, creating and sharing on stories.  From funny anecdotes to advertising my small yoga biz to asking for advice on how to successfully plant my hanging baskets, you name it I’ve probably chatted about it.

My little corner of Instagram that I’ve cultivated over the years since it was pretty much first released has always been a lovely place for me.  Educational, informative, supportive, I’ve made friends, I’ve had fantastic opportunities, it’s provided a creative outlet.  I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve never found it a toxic or comparative social media platform to be on or to scroll through.

Why then you’re probably thinking did I take such a long break?

And the simple answer is; to break a habit.

Instagram may be a happy place for me but I was definitely addicted.  Scrolling aimlessly and opening the app multiple times a day and for what? A dopamine hit that’s what. Dopamine hit after dopamine hit after dopamine hit.  An addiction.

Let's start with what is dopamine?  Dopamine is the primary brain chemical response that motivates us and makes us feel good.  Aside from making us feel mood and tired, low dopamine levels also contribute to many health conditions and addictions.

I first started exploring my relationship with dopamine back in November when I cut back to 1 coffee a day after some extensive caffeine research.  This could be an entirely different blog post so I want divulge too much but I am still on the coffee and haven’t cut it out completely but am less dependant especially around that afternoon slump and have stocked up on many caffeine free alternatives.

The caffeine led to committing to Dry January on the lead up to Christmas as I’d never done it before and if you know me I love delicious foods and decadent wines and had definitely been overindulging in December.  I also love a challenge so it felt apt.

After making those two decisions and observing myself I was recognising more and more the time I was losing with the mindless scrolling on Instagram (and tik tok) and feeling like I was wasting my time and life when I had so many other hobbies and passions and interactions that I could be divulging in.

There was a lot of fear surrounding coming off of Instagram however; what would happen to my business? How would anyone know about my yoga lessons? What if I lost followers? How will I know what everyone’s up to? Where will I get my dopamine hit from?

But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. New Year’s Day and that was it. I told myself just 24 hours. Have a little 24 hours break – it’ll be good for you.  It was a strugggleeeeeeeeee.

I woke up the next morning however and thought ‘Hey if I can do 24 hours I can definitely do a week. . .’

During that week I listened to this phenomenal podcast by a neuro scientist and a psychiatrist about dopamine and addiction and that was it for me.  I decided then and there that I would do a whole month of no Instagram, no tik tok and only using Facebook on my desktop to answer emails and post my weekly yoga schedule. I implore you to listen to the podcast here.

30 days. It takes 30 days to make or break a habit.  And I was determined to break this one.

So how has 30 days turned into 3 months?  (I know I’m shy by about a week but potato patata.).

I was ready and gearing up for my return in February but as many of you know we were in the process of selling and buying a house.  One of the most stressful things I’ve ever had to endure.  And our buyer pulling out on exchange day at the end of January topped it for me.  Think crying on the kitchen floor level of topped it off.

That is why I didn’t return to Instagram in February.  I wanted to feel all the feelings and not be distracted by social media.  It was a tough time and processing it felt important and my resilience was absolutely supported by not going on Instagram and having my mind numbed.

And then March came around and I was loving not being on Instagram. Honestly LOVING it!!!! Not even thinking about it or thinking about posting or taking pictures and videos for Instagram and stories.  Living in the here and now in the real world and absorbing all it has to offer.  And even entertaining the idea that I might not ever even go back on Instagram.

I have of course still been enjoying dopamine but in ways that feel much more removed from addiction cycles.  Think yoga, exercise, being in nature, reading a book (or 10), going for walks, singing, dancing – the list goes on, but these are my fave.

I’ve also had more time for learning new things and I have been having Italian lessons and have learnt to cross stitch.  I’ve also felt more present and connected in social situations.  I’ve been sleeping better.  My relationship with my phone is better.  I feel more vibrant.

It’s been a magical time living life offline although I know I have worried some people and have received emails and phone calls asking if I’m okay and where I am.  And of course, I’ve felt a little out the loop and perhaps I should have announced a hiatus really but once I was off that was it, I was off it.

Where am I at now?  I am returning to Instagram – I mean you’re probably reading this blog post through an Instagram link so clearly I am back on there.  And I did post a week ago finally announcing our successful move! I haven’t been back on since however and I haven’t felt like I’ve wanted to either.  Which I’m thinking means I’ve successfully broken the habit!!!

I’m not entirely sure in what capacity I am going to be on it moving forward.  Some of you have kindly shared that you’ve missed my stories and don’t fret they will be back, but I will just need to monitor my usage closely.  I do want to go back to posting and creating, I just want to keep myself in check from mindless scrolling and constant checking.  So, if you see me online too much do feel free to send me this blog post haha!!

I’m also going to HAVE to be back online for what I’ve got up my sleeve next . . .

In case I ever take a hiatus again in the future, I’ve continued to write my weekly newsletter so do make sure to sign up.  The sign-up form is just on the right and it’s the first place you can find out about yoga, upcoming events and retreats and what I’m up to.

My biggest take away from coming off of Instagram is that the world has not ended.