Fasting From Social Media Helped My Eczema

After reading a book called, “Deep Work” by Cal Newport, I challenged myself to take a 30-day social media fast. The purpose, simply being to practice self-control, presence, and “Deep Work” without distractions.

But the results and my experience during this time away from social media opened me up to a new perspective on ways to better my eczema.

Before fasting from social media

Immediately into just thinking about the challenge, my heart sank to my stomach and I could feel my hands getting sweaty. I told myself, “I didn’t even feel this much fear when I went skydiving a month ago!” This is how I knew it was the right decision - when something causes me fear, especially when the outcome is more beneficial to me than harmful, then that’s all the evidence I need to take the leap of faith.

Social media addiction

I normally use social media as a way to spread content and information to my followers, especially my eczema community. But when I dug deeper into my reflection, I concluded that I also click on the application unconsciously or without realizing it sometimes - simply out of habit. Sounds familiar? And as someone who obsessively enjoys training her mind and body to become stronger and resilient, I’m not a fan of having something external controlling my actions.

Eczema has controlled my life

What is something you and I most likely have in common that is also external to us but tends to control our actions and decisions? Eczema.

I don’t know about you, but eczema has dictated much of my life, from where I can go, to what I can wear and how I should be feeling. It became the center of my life, just like how social media became the center of my life.

How is social media addiction related to eczema?

My theory is that this control or “addiction” to scratch and the urge to tap onto social media are one and the same according to our bodies. Our bodies don’t know the difference between “eczema” triggers and “social media” triggers. It will respond and react in the same way.  (Again, my theory).

For example, when I am bored, I tend to scratch AND I tend to log onto social media. When I am stressed out, I tend to scratch AND log onto social media. It’s an unhealthy coping mechanism that I realized was occurring and I needed to re-train my mind to respond differently to these triggers.

How was my break from social media?

Withdrawing from social media was actually easier than I thought. As long as I remained active and present to my environment and people around me, I had no urge to log onto social media. (Of course!)

But what would happen when I would become bored or stressed out - the two main triggers of my unconscious scratching and logging onto social media? I would re-direct my mind to go back to being present. I would literally say to my mind, “Nope! Let’s fill up this emotion with actions. Let’s go do something active and productive.” Even if this meant calling a friend or researching more business-related topics or hanging out with my family - it was all about re-directing my mind and creating a new coping mechanism.

What did I learn from fasting from social media?

After the 30 days of fasting from social media, I concluded that these were the top three observations that actually supported my eczema journey:

I experienced less stress

Can I just add that I was also in the middle of moving during this fast and like the rest of the world, going through quarantine and social distancing? STRESS CENTRAL if you ask me.

But I wasn’t stressed out. And when I’m not stressed out, guess what? I’m also not scratching. I was so present to what was happening now and focused on remaining active that I didn’t have time to worry about the “what ifs” or all the other things going “wrong” in the world. Instead, I focused my attention on what mattered most to me - I’m safe. I’m with my family. We’re healthy. I’m healthy.

I didn’t have any itching attacks

Like for real. At least once a week or every two weeks before the fast, I was getting these itching attacks around my mouth. I didn’t experience a flare-up not ONCE during this fast.

What’s my hypothesis on this?

Social media can create comparison, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), stress, and anxiety. So because I had cut off access to social media, I also cut out the middle man or “triggers” that were leading me to scratch and log onto social media.

Constant practice and training are necessary

Fasting from social media taught me first hand how powerful the mind is. It taught me that when I am aware of what’s happening at all times or as often as possible, then I can control how I respond to what’s occurring, including not scratching even when I get the urge to.

But this takes practice. Consistent practice.

So here’s my invitation to you: What in your life do you feel controls you and your actions? Food? Social media? Certain individuals? Try doing a withdrawal or fasting like I did from social media and observe whether or not your eczema gets better in the process. Let us know your end results!

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