How many times a day do you mindlessly scroll through Facebook or Instagram?
For many of us it can be a compulsive habit, and one that's not altogether healthy.
Social media not only wastes time, it also takes us away from the present moment with real people and - for all its positive qualities - can make us feel inferior in comparison to others, too.
Grazia speaks to three women who've turned their back on social media, and found themselves more relaxed and confident as a result.
'I worry less about where I am in my life'
Rachel Newby from High Wycombe, works in the communications department at the University of Roehampton. An avid user of both Facebook and Instagram, she quit both last year with in an attempt to live a more positive life.
I used to find myself automatically checking social media whenever I was on my phone and “dual screening” while I was doing other things such as cooking, watching TV or chatting with friends.
A lot of the people I followed on Instagram were celebrities and fitness personalities, and I started to realise how self-conscious that made me. On Facebook, I naturally compared myself with my friends, especially those I went to school with.
I gave up at the end of 2016 with a view to focusing on the present rather than living my life looking through a screen. I didn't want to compare myself or take pictures and constantly think, 'that would be great for Facebook' or 'I wonder which filter to put on this for Instagram'.
What surprised me most by getting rid of them was how easy it was to do. As soon as I'd deleted them, I didn't think about either of them anymore. I never once tried to log in or really felt the need to go online. I completely forgot about it.
I think it was more difficult for my friends to get their heads around than me - I had a lot of 'Oh my gosh, why aren't you on Facebook? Doesn't that drive you crazy? How will you know what's going on?' I also had people get in touch with me and ask if I'd deleted them off Facebook!
The only hard thing about quitting is not being able to see old photos and reminisce. Also, the time hop feature and reading old statuses that I used to post while I was at uni is something that I miss - although they're also pretty cringey, so that's a bit of a blessing, too.
I find that now I call people more than ever, which is great because then you naturally have more of a laugh and a closer relationship.
I worry less about the way I look and where I am in my life. I'm just focused on me rather than what people around me are doing. It feels like a weight off my shoulders.
'I love the feeling of freedom and taking back control'
Life coach and founder of ADC Languages Arantxa De Dios gave up Facebook after the arrival of her second child, in order to make the most of parenthood. She describes it as a “liberation” and hasn’t looked back since.
I gave up Facebook after the birth of my second child. I really wanted to avoid the mistakes that I made with my older daughter, where I tried to juggle too many balls at the same time - including my use of social media - which only caused me more stress than I needed as a new mum. This time I wanted to focus on just being a mum, without distractions, and it's made a massive difference to me. For example, while I'm breastfeeding now I read paperback books instead of my phone. I feel much better as a result.
Before, I used social media multiple times every day. I was overwhelmed with all this information, but at the same time a bit obsessed with reading it all. I found myself scrolling down my Facebook page again and again, finding it very hard to stop. Both in terms of my two businesses and in my personal life, it put unnecessary and damaging pressure on myself. No matter how much time I put into it, it was never enough.
I used to go to bed with my phone and sometimes the last thing I did before falling sleep was to scroll on Facebook.
The moment when I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone was a very nice one indeed. It was like liberation. No more distractions. No more scrolling. No more wasted time. Finished! I told myself that I should be present, here in the moment, with my eyes open and ready to see everything around me. I didn't want to miss the beautiful smile and loving looks of my baby while I was lost in another world looking at other people's lives. That would have been so sad and selfish.
I noticed straight away that there was a lot more space in my mind. I loved the feeling of freedom and taking back a little piece of control for me. There was immediate improvement in my sleep quality, too. I wake up with more clarity and tranquillity in the morning.
Before, when I saw other people on Facebook apparently living perfect lives full of success, it led me to have unnecessary expectations about what I should be aspiring to and how soon I should expect to achieve it. Everyone has their own pace and that has been a great discovery for me.
By disconnecting from a social network, I have reconnected with my friends in a very real and personal way. I'm also able to have more quality moments each day with my husband and kids, those little interactions which remind you what life is all about.
'Making real relationships is what counts'
Joanne O’Connell from Chester is founder of EmploymentSolicitor.com. She deleted her personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts after a broken phone opened her eyes to life beyond social media.
In December 2016, I dropped my smartphone in the kitchen sink – while googling the answer to my child’s homework at the same time as washing up – and broke it.
Initially I felt like I was missing out, but it didn’t take long to break the habit and see the benefits. After the first few panicky days of feeling lost to the world, I began to love it.
The first thing I noticed is how everyone else is on their phones all the time. From the school playground to the bus and the changing room at yoga class, everyone spends ages on social media and I can’t help but think this is at the expense of connecting with the people standing right next to us. Until recently, I was just as bad but I find it a real wind-up now!
Social media can be a real drain on your time, too. I run my own business and I used to trick myself that I was “researching” when browsing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But spending too much time scrolling down other people’s posts about their own success at work stopped me achieving my own. Without the constant interruption of social notifications, it’s easier to focus.
Since I stopped using social on my phone, I’ve not had my phone beside my bed at night and it’s far more restful. My sleep is much better. I think after a while, social can be just another thing you’re supposed to do. When you break that cycle, it makes you less stressed.
Social is an easy way for people to share photos and news, so I miss some of that. But I’ve more of an effort to phone family and friends and that’s been a great thing.
Social has a place in our lives but getting out there and making real relationships and connecting with wide ranges of people with different views, backgrounds and ideas matters much more.
I have only just got a new Smartphone and I only use Twitter now, during work hours and just on my laptop. I’ve deleted all accounts and social apps on my phone. There’s no way I’m going back to my old ways.