Social Sundays: A Game-Changing Idea to Reduce Your Social Media Use
As an artist (and human being looking to connect with others), I‘ve had a love-hate relationship with social media for years. Just like many others, I was quite aware that I needed to reduce my social media use but just didn’t know how.
I loved sharing my work there and connecting with others, yet I couldn‘t help but feel that platforms like Instagram played a little bit too big of a role in my life.
Sounds familiar? Well, I think I finally found a solution to limit social media use (without quitting it completely!)
I came up with a concept called Social Sundays – and it is as simple as only using social media once per week. Let me explain how you can benefit from it and how to best use Social Sundays to transform your relationship with social media.
Common tips to reduce social media use (that didn‘t work for me)
Let‘s go back a step: I‘ve tried pretty much everything to reduce my social media consumption. There are a lot of suggestions only on how to limit the time you spend on social media, yet somehow… nothing worked for me.
Here are some of the things I tried and why they didn’t work for me:
Switching off notifications
Yes, works great in the beginning. When you‘re used to push notifications and they suddenly don‘t show up on your phone anymore, you might forget about social media for a moment.
But then you get used to not having notifications. And you think it can‘t hurt to check here and there if there‘s maybe a new message or comment… At some point, the checking gets more and more frequent until you‘re back to the same (or potentially even more) time spent on social media.
Hide social media apps
It is often recommended to move social apps to a separate page or folder on your phone to make them less visible. I found this works great for a day or two – it does stop you in your tracks when the ‚usual spot‘ on your screen suddenly is empty.
But… our brains are smart and adapt quickly. No matter how hard I tried to hide social media apps on my phone, eventually, I would always get used to their new location and eventually be back to subconsciously opening the app all the time.
Set time limits
I thought setting time limits could help to get rid of my social media addiction – but no. I tried limiting it to 30 minutes a day and for a couple of days, it usually went great.
The problem is that you can also deactivate or extend your time limits. Initially, I only started doing it when I had something to share or would be having an enriching conversation with someone.
But then, very quickly, you get used to clicking that button to get more time on social media. And in the end, you just click it all the time. And if you‘re at that point, you might as well just deactivate that function again.
Note: There are some apps to limit social media use that you can’t bypass but I found these to be hindering in the rare cases when I actually “needed” to go on social media for research, sending a message or the like.
Delete social apps
Deleting apps like Instagram from your phone is another common tip to limit social media use. It ended up being quite frustrating if I just quickly wanted to send a message to someone and had to download it again just for that – and then, oops, I would accidentally spend yet another hour on the app.
Constantly logging back in was annoying and I felt like deleting the app still didn‘t give me the structure I needed to truly reduce my social media usage. Also, by now, you can use most apps on your desktop, too (sneaky avoidance strategies).
The ‚post and ghost‘ strategy might work for some people but I ended up eventually leaving the app on my phone and being just as addicted as before.
Social media detox
The concept goes like this: You abstain from social media completely for a while and then go back to using it but hopefully a bit more mindfully.
I actually never had an issue staying away from social media completely and I‘ve done a month without Instagram several times already.
The problem is coming back to the app. At first, I do use it significantly less and with more awareness but unfortunately, it doesn‘t take long until I‘m back to my old ways.
Quitting social media would be relatively easy compared to using it in moderation – but as an artist, I want to be able to share my work on there and maintain some of the beautiful connections that are only in my life because of social media.
How to spend less time on social media without quitting it completely?
I realized the only thing I had not tried yet was setting myself a strict schedule. While I was excited to share my art and travels, I realized how much time Instagram consumed every day.
So I thought: Hey, what if I only used social media once a week?
And this spark of inspiration became the idea that actually allowed me to reduce my time spent on social media and develop a healthier relationship with it.
Social Sundays started as an experiment to reduce social media use
End of June 2022, I started an experiment, after having a heart-to-heart talk with a friend about what we would like to change in our lives.
Not much, I said to him, truthfully – I am usually quite quick in ditching habits that no longer serve me. The only thing, I realized, that has been bothering me for years but stayed unchanged is in fact my overuse of social media.
So I decided it was time to finally change that. I deleted Instagram from my phone right away, without telling anyone.
At first, I was actually shocked to find myself constantly looking for that rainbow-colored icon on my screen. The habit of unconsciously clicking on this social media app – and the constant urge to do so – was a lot stronger than I liked.
Noticing this only reinforced my decision to find a way to give social media less control over my life. And I really liked the idea of using it only on one specific day per week. Sundays.
So that‘s how the idea of Social Sundays was born – connect and share on Sunday, stay offline for the rest of the week.
What has changed since I started Social Sundays
At first, not a single day passed without me thinking about Instagram. My thumb automatically went to that page where the icon used to be. And I constantly thought about the photos I could post there.
Only when you get away from social media do you realize how much room it takes up in your life.
By the time of writing this article, many months have passed. And I would like to share with you what has changed since I first switched to using social media only once a week.
As one would expect, my life has changed for the better.
It might not be the same for everyone, but here are some things I experienced that you might benefit from, too, if you use social media only once a week.
#1 Not thinking about Instagram every day anymore
If you‘re an avid meditator, you might be very used to observing your own thoughts and recognizing certain patterns. But even if you‘re not, have you ever noticed how often you think about Instagram?! (Or whatever social media platform is your ‚favorite‘ aka ‚most addictive‘)
Certainly, Instagram was on my mind A LOT. And it continued for quite a while – I‘d say for the first month of Social Sundays, I still thought about it almost every day.
But then… it got quieter on my mind. It freed up space, valuable space for things that truly matter to me. And that was wonderful to notice.
#2 Taking fewer photos
Another thing that was really interesting to me was noticing that I started taking fewer photos on my phone. Apparently, I captured a lot of those moments purely with the unconscious intention of sharing them on social media.
And it makes me wonder… which moments are truly worth being captured? Do we also take too many photos, not just spend too many hours on social media?
#3 The addictive effects of social media faded
After about a month, I could finally leave the app on my phone without unconsciously clicking on the icon all the time.
Before that, I had to delete the app completely, otherwise I would constantly click on it and find myself staring at the login screen wondering how I ended up here (absolutely wild).
#4 Increased accountability
Without having intended it, Social Sundays also gave me a posting schedule: a new photo every Sunday.
My followers know exactly when to expect me to be online and quite a few of them have actually told me they look forward to seeing my stories each Sunday.
And it gives me some sort of accountability. It also feels a lot more intentional to carefully craft one post per week instead of erratically posting without giving it much thought.
#5 More time and energy
Spending less time on social media gives you a lot more time and energy to invest in other projects. Social media can be such a big distraction that takes you away from your goals.
Are there some things you’ve always wanted to do but don’t seem to find the time for it? Practice an instrument, go to the gym, journal more? Social media might be the culprit.
In a way, it feels like Social Sundays gave me my life back.
#6 One last realization
And, when you reduce your social media use… You kind of realize how unimportant all of this social media stuff is.
In the end, what matters is how you live in the here and now. How you fill your days with meaning and how you interact with the people around you – social media will never be able to replace real-life interactions.
This is the connection we actually need. The one we crave. Social media seems like a promise to fill that void in our lives but nothing satisfies our innate need for connection like face-to-face interaction. Offline.
Social media should – ideally – add to your life in a meaningful way, not take away your ability to live fully. And that‘s why I absolutely believe that limiting social media use is the way to go.
Why this way of reducing social media use works
To me, the reason Social Sundays work is that it gives you enough time between your interactions on social media to let you ‚go back to normal‘. There is time to rest and focus on the real world, without being reactive to social media every minute of the day.
Studies have shown that already spending one week without social media can benefit your mental health. Let‘s assume 6 days also do the trick, then Social Sundays is actually a great concept.
Other studies suggest that people who moderately use social media are in fact the happiest with their usage – so while we obviously know how damaging too much social media can be, it is interesting to hear that quitting it completely can leave you feeling less connected, too.
In conclusion, finding balance is key – everything can be enjoyed in moderation, it is the excessive use that is the problem. And personally, Social Sundays give me just the balance I needed.
Benefits of reducing social media can be:
- Better sleep
- Less stress
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Higher mental well-being
- Less FOMO (fear of missing out)
- Less unhealthy comparison to others
- Higher self-esteem and self-awareness
What to keep in mind when you want to reduce your social media use
#1 Be careful with alternative addictions
One thing I noticed when deleting my social media apps is how quickly one reaches for alternative distractions (usually also on your phone or laptop).
A fellow artist who also decided to try Social Sundays told me after the first week: „I‘ve never checked my bank account this often!”
Hilarious – but also scary! We are so used to clicking on that little icon that our minds desperately want to click on something else, anything, just to satisfy that urge.
Admittedly, for a while I started to use Facebook way too much again because I wanted to use some groups to get advice and ask questions. A useful intention at first, but then hanging out there doing nothing turned into a habit.
There are a lot of “alternative addictions” out there, so try to really observe your behavior and stop yourself when you are about to engage in a replacement addiction.
I think the key is learning to replace the habit with actions that have nothing to do with your phone.
#2 Social Media stays addictive (in a way)
While Social Sundays do decrease the overall addiction to social apps, they are still addictive on the day you use them.
Even now, I sometimes find myself refreshing the notifications just to see if new likes are coming in – we are naturally inclined to love that little jolt of dopamine it gives us.
I‘m not sure if there is any way around it except for being mindful and possibly making other plans for your day – so you aren‘t tempted to spend all day on Instagram.
#3 Your reach will suffer
Let‘s be honest – Instagram, Facebook etc. will not love you for abandoning their platforms. I‘ve been asked how Social Sundays affected my reach as an artist and I have to say, it hasn‘t been great.
On average, both reach and engagement went down by 20% in the first three months of sticking to Social Sundays. In the beginning, people seem to have been more supportive of the idea
My follower count still keeps growing but fewer people see my posts.
I recently went back to posting daily for a little while because I was launching my print shop – but honestly? It felt like during that time, my engagement was even lower.
So I‘m quite happy to go back to posting weekly and I hope that the people who truly care about my work will sign up for my newsletter to stay updated on the important stuff.
Speaking of it… What is the important stuff? This is the vision I have, of a wholehearted life, full of days that energize you instead of drain you.
Go outside. Play more. Laugh more. Live with intention. Call your loved ones. Spend time with your own thoughts. Connect with the present moment. Be part of community. Remember what it means to be human. Run through the rain. Dance. Cry. Feel. And… fall in love with life all over again.
Final words: Limiting social media use with Social Sundays
By the end of 2022, I am certainly still a fan of Social Sundays. It is the best concept I have found so far to actually limit my excessive social media use.
I still feel like I have too much screen time overall – because there are a million things you can do online besides social media – so for sure, it is work in progress.
However, implementing Social Sundays was an important first step and I‘m really happy I came up with this concept. If you‘d like to join the movement, feel free to use #socialsundays on your posts to let me know you‘re in!
I loved reading about your experiments and what you’ve been discovering! I also have struggled with Instagram in particular and wrote a related post on my own website earlier this year. After drastically reducing my usage over the past few months, I feel so much freer and happier. Now I only post if I have a new collection or something. It does feel a little obligatory and I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it up… But the good news is, my self-worth isn’t tied up in likes anymore!! AND… instead of spending so much time “creating content,” I’ve been able to focus on other, more engaging activities that are better for me and my audience (such as, improving my art!)
Honestly what helped me so much was tuning into that “empty void” feeling I experienced whenever I was doomscrolling. I realize how actually BORING and uninspiring it is to spend time on social media! Now, when I find myself reaching for the app, I can stop and ask myself what’s going on… am I just too lazy and wanting to fill the void right now…? and replace the scrolling with a more restful or engaging activity (depending on what I need.)
Sunday is my time to withdraw from the Internet… but I am totally with you in spirit 🙂
Thank you, Elena! It sounds like you already found some great ways to get out of the ‘social media rat race’. Your time and energy definitely are too precious to be wasted on social media – it’s wonderful to hear making those changes has been truly beneficial to your life and happiness. And I love how you talk about actually observing yourself and understanding the underlying behaviors. I think very often we are indeed just trying to fill a void 🙂