Rachel Bunting

Rachel, 28 year old yoga loving, travel fanatic and (former) social media addict, shares her experience of Scroll Free September.

I made it! The 1st of October 2018 now marks an important landmark in my life – because I did a WHOLE MONTH without social media! Crazy right …

Skimming through the newspaper I saw the advert for Scroll Free September and without a second thought I decided to do it. It was a definite challenge and was up there with sporting challenges or giving up drinking, but ‘without the effort’ I thought.

I quickly announced this turn of events on Facebook and Instagram and logged out of my accounts. I received a lot of messages from friends and family asking why I was doing it and, more importantly, how I was going to manage - “you’ll do it because you’re stubborn” were the cynical words from my friend’s mouth.

I have been known to document many daily events on my Instagram story and love updating my second Instagram account with travel and holiday snaps. Nobody thought I could do it. So, on Saturday evening, the 1st of September, I sat around twiddling my thumbs and wondered what the hell I’d gotten myself into.

Days 1-4 were the worst. Like when you cut out sugar from your diet, during those first few days all you can think about is food and your body literally craves sugar. My fingers were drawn to those dreaded social buttons like a bee to a flower.

Countless times I clicked the app but thank goodness I had the sense to log out of my accounts, otherwise I would have caved straight away. I realised though, it was just a reflex. I was in such a habit of clicking and scrolling I didn’t even register what was going on. And then, suddenly, I stopped. 

Just four days of no scrolling and my brain had reprogrammed my fingers not to move straight to Instagram or scroll Twitter when I had an empty moment or was bored. That was the turning point. I realised that it actually felt good.

In some way I felt free and I definitely had more space in my head to think about things properly and give tasks my full concentration. I could read whole news articles and newspapers. I read a book. I talked to people and listened. I went for dinner and to parks without letting everyone in the social media stratosphere know it.

I started to live in the moment and wasn’t continually out to impress or brag about what I was doing. Yet, I think the biggest impact it had was that I didn’t have anyone to compare myself to.

No longer was I seeing 100+ images of perfectly proportioned women, successful teenage millionaires or Instagram travel bloggers on round-the-world trips flashing through my brain. I was simply seeing reality, in myself and in my surroundings and that was the biggest breath of fresh air I could possibly have needed.

I’ve always deemed myself to be rather sensible and strong-willed, not needing to follow the crowd or care what others think, but that was obviously not the case. Being free from social media gave me the opportunity to reassess this and understand I need to prioritise my own thoughts, ideas and beliefs over that of anyone on social media.

A big step forward for my mental wellbeing. I can only recommend everyone tries a social media detox. Whether you go full blown cold turkey or simply limit the amount of time you spend on there per day, it can truly change your mindset, break those habits you are in and have such a positive effect on your wellbeing! Thank you RSPH for the challenge!