LIFESTYLE

Tried And Tested: How A Social Media Addict Coped With A Digital Detox

12/09/2014 12:44 BST | Updated 12/09/2014 15:59 BST

It seems rather fitting that on the eve of my social media detox, I ran out of data allowance on my iPhone...

Part of me blames the #ALSIceBucket challenge. For about two weeks my Facebook feed was invaded by videos - all annoyingly set to autoplay - of people having icy cold water thrown over their heads. Riveting.

Of course, as the other (more honest) part of me knows, this isn't the first time that my social media obsession has gobbled up my data allowance. The first time I joined Tinder and became a swipe-happy man eater springs to mind...

I'll admit it: I have a problem, I'm addicted to social media.

woman phone

I'm the person with their phone on the dinner table; the one who bumps into you on the street because they are too busy glued to the screen; I pull out my phone the second I sit down on public transport or emerge from the tube. My phone is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.

However, I've reached breaking point. Being constantly connected makes me feel almost permanently disconnected.

And so as part of HuffPost UK's month of Digital Detox, I vowed to purge myself of this wholly unnecessary evil and go on a serious Facebook, Twitter and Instagram detox.

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First I had to set some rules: I allowed myself to use social media for work purposes (a key part of my job is sourcing breaking news and viral stories) and to respond to important group messages (as this is one of the main ways my generation communicates).

But the mindless scrolling had to stop. That means no more logging on to browse through feeds for browsing's sake.

God, was I nervous.

The fact that I ran out of data may seem like a detox would be easy, but don't be fooled. Firstly, I have a work phone to fuel my addiction and secondly, there's always the temptation of a nearby wi-fi connection.

I'm not going to say it was easy, but I managed it.

There were moments when my thumb gravitated towards the forbidden app icons and at times I found myself absentmindedly logging on, before pulling myself out from whichever social media hole I'd fallen into.

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A week might not seem like a long time to detox, but in just seven days my day-to-day life has changed considerably:

I've reclaimed hours of time...

I've started reading again (an actual book, not just links people have posted), sleeping more and having real-life conversations as opposed to communicating via the 'like' button or posting witty comments under photographs.

It might sound obvious to those who aren't glued to their phone 24/7 (I think there are still some of those traditionalists out there), but it is so easy to get lost in your own digital world and forget to live in the moment.

Not only am I having more face-to-face conversations, I'm fully engaged in them...

Leaving my phone in my bag when at dinner or in the pub means I can devote 100% of my time to the person or people around me and have a good catch-up, like old times.

The next challenge will be dealing with my friends' reliance on social media - already the constant vibrating of their phone or mid-conversation check-ins is starting to grate. And it has only been seven days.

I'm sleeping better...

I'm not glued to my phone until the early hours looking at [insert celebrity's name here] Instagram account. Instead I unplug, grab the aforementioned book and eventually doze off.

This means that when I get into work I'm alert and engaged. Sure I haven't seen whatshername's holiday photos from Thailand, but we haven't spoken for two years and I should probably delete her anyway.

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So what did I learn from one week with less social media in my life? That you're not missing anything by not being online around the clock, and if you are, you can catch up pretty quickly.

Will I keep it up? Absolutely. Sure I might allow myself the odd browse, but I'm definitely enjoying having my pre-social media life back.

Also on HuffPost:

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