A New Year’s Journey: Embracing Mindfulness with a Digital Reset

Discover how deleting unused apps and stepping away from social media can open the doors to improved mental health, clarity, and a newfound appreciation for living in the moment.

As the New Year unfolds, I reflect on a habit that’s increasingly consumed much of my time – my use of social media. Social media impacts people differently, so this won’t apply to everyone. However, for me (and I’m sure some of you), it often brings more negative feelings than positive ones.

Throughout the last few months, I’ve caught myself doom-scrolling Instagram or TikTok for hours as opposed to engaging with my family or actually watching the movie that’s on in the background. The real kicker was when I realized I was disengaged and secluded from my extended family during the holidays.

Sure, it was an escape from all the noise, and yes, there’s a temporary endorphin hit from seeing things that make me laugh or want to share with my friends. There’s also the darker side, where I envied the life portrayed by the poster, or worse, I got stuck in a thirst trap. Regardless, I was using social media as an escape from reality or a distraction from what I should be doing.

Taking a break and removing clutter

In recent years, the concept of a digital detox or a break from social media has gained traction. However, a digital reset goes a step further. It’s not just about reducing screen time; it’s about intentional and mindful use of technology.

A digital reset is a life hack I started about seven years ago when I felt overwhelmed with all the chaos online. Since then, it’s become my favorite New Year’s tradition tied into a resolution. As you can tell from above, I wasn’t successful in avoiding social media all year, but this is as good a time as any to reset.

The impact of social media on mental health

I’m not alone in feeling the brunt of social media’s darker side. Excessive use is linked to increased feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, and even depression. In a striking alert from the US Surgeon General, the impact of social media on youth mental health was highlighted, underscoring the urgency of this issue. These platforms, while connecting us, often end up isolating us from the very real, tangible world of meaningful interactions.

Decluttering the digital space

Just as we declutter our personal space, decluttering our digital space can be liberating. I highly encourage you to review all the apps on your phone. How many do you use regularly? How many serve a purpose? Deleting apps that are no longer useful frees up space on your device and reduces mental clutter. It simplifies choices and reduces the cognitive load of too many options.

If you’re like me, you probably crawl the app store looking for the next big thing that inevitably sits in an app folder, only to be forgotten. This year, I discovered that I had a few app subscriptions I didn’t need anymore and was throwing away money.

Gaining time, energy and mindfulness

One of the immediate benefits of a digital reset is the realization of how much time we spend (or lose) on our devices. Without the option to doom-scroll through social media, you suddenly find pockets of time. This newfound time is an opportunity for activities I’ve sidelined in the past. Reading a book, finally cleaning the garage so it can fit the car again, or simply engaging in deep, uninterrupted thought.

With the extra time, we must be mindful of how we fill it. The aim of a digital reset is not just to reduce screen time but to enhance the quality of our non-digital experiences. It’s an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves and our surroundings. Practice mindfulness or meditation. Go for a walk and observe the world without the urge to capture it for an online audience.

This newfound time isn’t just about doing more; it’s about being more present, engaged, and mindful.

A conscious reconnection with technology

A digital reset isn’t about demonizing technology. Instead, it’s about recalibrating our relationship with it. As the reset progresses, I’ll slowly reintroduce apps that add value to my life. I’ll have to be selective and intentional about what earns a spot on my iPhone and iPad.

Setting Boundaries

My partner, Steph, and I have decided to set specific boundaries around our digital usage. We understand the need to stay connected with friends who are active on social media, but we’re committed to designated times for checking these platforms. Turning off non-essential notifications is another small but significant step towards regaining control over our digital lives.

This is a great area to ask your partner to help keep you accountable.

A step towards a balanced life

A digital reset is more than a New Year’s resolution. It’s a commitment to a more balanced, mindful, and fulfilling life. As we embark on this journey, remember that every small step is a stride toward a more present and engaged existence.

I encourage you to share your experiences or thoughts on digital mindfulness in the comments below. Let’s support each other in this journey towards a balanced digital life.

Cheers to a year of presence and mindfulness!