I gave up social media for a month and here’s what it did for my wellbeing

Deleting all social media apps made me more present but I missed sourcing workouts and healthy recipes to try out

Deleting social media apps
(Image credit: Future)

Despite being someone who is very precious about their time and making the most of it, I still managed to waste a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through social media apps on my phone last year. I never saw it as an issue, or perhaps I was selective of when I chose to mentally log how often I opened up the Instagram app.

One of my favorite outlets is exercise - whether that’s building strength with some of the best leg workouts or training for a new running distance in a pair of our best running shoes for women - yet it’s something I always complain about not having enough time for. So when Apple began sending through unsolicited reports of my weekly screen time, this put into perspective how much of my life is wasted scrolling through other people’s online lives. 

The only way I could actually try to claim back my precious time was to fully delete social media from my phone for a prolonged period of time. And I did. I got rid of Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok for a month. Worried I’d get FOMO seeing what everyone was up to, I filled my time with activities that are associated with increasing my presence. I did yoga for 30 days and explored simpler activities such as what are the benefits of walking to see what personal changes I’d notice. Here’s what happened to me during the month. 

1) My motivation to workout increased

According to a GWI report the average internet user spends around two hours a day on social media. But before I took accountability for the time I spent getting stuck in a TikTok black hole or crafting the perfect Instagram story, I always blamed work and my social calendar for me not allowing me enough time to do my workouts. I turned a blind eye to my phone: the procrastination station.

Before my social media ban, I’d cram what should be a 45-minute tricep and chest workout into a quick 20-minute circuit with some adjustable dumbbells or skip important warmups like the 6 things you must do before going on a run. I wouldn’t see the results I wanted to achieve, I’d feel frustrated, and have less desire to work out a plan for overcoming this.

After deducting social media usage from my life, I began filling the time I’d usually spend scrolling with a quick walk before work or some yoga in the evening. I was excited to get to the gym early and claim a free bench before others did. I liked nipping out for a long run and not feeling constrained by time or like I couldn’t extend my run because I headed out too late. 

I also felt a real boost of energy during the day and this had a knock-on effect on my motivation levels. With motivation, comes consistency and with consistency comes results. With no Instagram messages to respond to first thing in the morning or stories to swipe through, I nailed exercising at the same time every day which has been theorized by researchers to promote more frequent exercise. 

2) I slept better

Since I’m a fitness writer I like to think that I take rest seriously. I like to prioritize muscle recovery after workouts by stretching out any tensions and ensuring I eat plenty of protein as this is essential for growth and repair. Sometimes I’ll add one of the best protein powders for women into a smoothie when I don’t consume enough lean proteins from my meals. But I can’t say I am as disciplined when it comes to sleeping as a form of recovery.

I was in a bad habit of using my phone as an alarm clock which starts an unhealthy habit of keeping my phone by my bed. This leaves an all too easy invitation for me to scroll the internet before I fall asleep and as soon as I open my eyes in the morning. After deleting all the tempting apps I decided to leave my phone outside the bedroom and instead used my Garmin Venu 2 Plus to wake me up with its alarm every day.

No bright lights or texting before bed clearly let my mind settle better as I started achieving the eight-hour sleep mark on my watch sleep stats - something I rarely see. According to a research paper published in the National Library of Medicine, using your phone for at least 30 minutes after turning your lights off can result in the following: poor sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, sleep disturbances, and increased sleep latency. 

These are all things I definitely suffered from.

However, I can’t say all these sleep problems all completely disappeared for me when I gave up social media. Other factors such as staring at a laptop screen all day for work still factor into feelings of fatigue and diet plays a key role in our energy levels. We answer some key questions on what food offers us energy such as does protein give us energy? 

3) I had less fitness inspiration

Ask any motivational speaker or life guru and they’ll probably tell you to stop wasting your time and energy on social media if you want to improve things like productivity and success. I certainly believe this to be true for many reasons but I must address the downside that I personally experienced from deleting all social media from my life. 

Beforehand, I just had to open the Facebook app and scroll down my newsfeed to find answers to various fitness and health questions I sometimes didn’t even know I needed the answers to such as, is walking cardio? Or what are the benefits of fish oil?

Then Instagram and TikTok provided me with countless workout ideas. If ever I was headed to the gym and hadn’t planned my session in advance I’d nip onto TikTok and, within seconds, find myself a full dumbbell leg workout. I also had people to look up to in the fitness world. As much as areas of the internet can contribute to unhealthy fitness journeys such as certain influencer figures promoting fad diets or unsustainable exercise programs, I felt like I followed people who sent out healthy and educated fitness content. And I missed having those good role models on my phone screen, acting as a friendly nudge to nip to the gym or to fuel my body with nutrient-rich foods.

I did end up redownloading my old social media apps to reconnect with what inspires my fitness journey and to keep up to date with friends. The month off apps did do more good than bad for me and has reset the way I view social media’s effect on my time and energy. It also emphasized the importance of curating my following and feeds on these apps to make it a more productive place to spend my time.

All the while I pocketed my phone for a month here’s what Fit&Well’s other writers were up to: I tried doing deep squats every day for a month, and the results were amazing and I meditated every day for a year, and here's how it changed my life

Jessica Downey

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her career in journalism began in local news and she holds a Masters in journalism. Jessica has previously written for Runners World, penning news and features on fitness, sportswear and nutrition. 

When she isn't writing up news and features for Fit&Well covering topics ranging from muscle building, to yoga, to female health and so on, she will be outdoors somewhere, testing out the latest fitness equipment and accessories to help others find top products for their own fitness journeys. Her testing pairs up nicely with her love for running. She recently branched out to running 10Ks and is trying to improve her time before moving on to larger races. Jessica also enjoys building on her strength in the gym and is a believer in health and wellness beginning in the kitchen. She shares all of this on her running Instagram account @jessrunshere which she uses for accountability and for connecting with like-minded fitness lovers.