Lately, I have found myself considering options to replace social media. There are several reasons that have led me to this point but the one that takes the cake is the overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety I am beginning to feel whenever I log on to social media applications.
We are still in the middle of a pandemic that has no end in sight, so one might argue that these fears are probably not irrational. But it isn’t just the pandemic that is causing me to worry. It is also the increase (or perceived increase due to video documentation) of crime and prejudice that has me in a constant state of panic as I scroll through my social media feeds.
I have always prided myself as a conscious social media user. Carefully interacting with the different platforms I use to avoid the lure of social media addiction. For me, I found out that the perfect balance was to create, more than I consumed, to interact with accounts that inspired and sparked joy in me and of course, not to spend all my time scrolling infinitely.
However, in the last few months, I found myself doing just that, scrolling endlessly through my feeds in my quest to stay updated with the latest happenings. Now, I could make excuses that even now, make a lot of sense to me but I am not afraid to admit that keeping up with the news and ongoings on social media has done more harm than good to me.
While I am not new to taking social media breaks, this one feels quite different. And there are two main reasons why. The first being that I am still in a state of lockdown due to the pandemic. In the past, my social media breaks often involved travelling and exploring somewhere new or diving my head deep into projects at work. These days, those outlets are not really options.
The second reason why this break feels different is that I became intentional about finding other hobbies to replace social media time in my schedule. In the post, I share some of the ones I have gotten into and a lot more to choose from in the future.
I want to highlight that with this article, I’m not advocating that you quit social media completely, especially if you find value in its usage. I have also seen many positive aspects to being on platforms like Twitter and Instagram that it might be silly to suggest that you discard it completely.
However, if you, like me, are also feeling overwhelmed and in need of a break or an outlet, here are 50 hobbies you can get into to replace social media (temporarily or permanently).
Replace Social Media with these Hobbies that Expand your Mind…
- Learn a New Language: From boosting your brainpower to improving your general well being, learning a new language has many benefits to offer. Since learning to speak a second language fluently requires a lot of time and dedication, you’ll find yourself naturally spending less time on social media and more time on language learning apps and websites.
- Read Books: Books are a gateway to a whole new world of knowledge and insight. I’m going to quote Mark here and say that if you don’t like to read, it’s probably because you haven’t found the right book. Books do a lot to expand your mind and world. People often say that it is the best way to travel without leaving your home and don’t we just need that right now?! Recently, Mark began contributing to a new blog series I titled: Travel with a Book. In this bi-weekly series, he recommends a book he has read and enjoyed, with the hopes that you do as well.
- Write a Book: If you have always harboured the idea of putting your thoughts to paper, this might be the best opportunity to bring that dream to fruition!
- Take an Online Class: These days, there are classes for almost anything! A good way to improve your life is to sign up for classes in your areas of interest.
- Watch Documentaries: Another way you could spend your free time is by watching documentaries. I say documentaries (and not movies) because oftentimes, you are actually learning something new in these kinds of productions. While I would not rule movies out as a waste of time, I would say that in trying to combat one vice, you should avoid getting lured by another.
- Subscribe to a Daily or Weekly News Aggregator: One of the main reasons I’m on social media is to get the news, sometimes, as quickly as it breaks. I don’t watch TV, so this is mostly how I stay updated. While taking a social media break, I find that the best thing to do to stay informed is to subscribe to a daily or weekly news aggregator. That way, I am informed but not overwhelmed. The second-best option after an aggregator is to call mum!
- Keep a Blog or a Diary: There are several texts that highlight how therapeutic journaling can be. I particularly love reading old notes and seeing how much has changed with time. If this isn’t something you already do, you can try it out. I think reading about living through a pandemic would be very fascinating.
- Focus on Growing your Career: Whether you are an entrepreneur, in paid employment or probably currently unemployed, you can take time out to figure out your next steps. That step could be working on your next promotion or a job switch or the launch of a new product. Taking a break helps you isolate the noise, so you can focus on what needs to be done.
- Listen to Podcasts or Audiobooks: Find podcasts and audiobooks you love and plug away! This can also be a way to expand your world and knowledge base.
- Learn How to Write Programming Codes: There’s something quite empowering about knowing how to code. In our day and age, an investment in learning how to write programming codes is one worth making.
- Get into Stimulating Board or Paper Games: Scrabble, Chess, Sudoku and Crosswords are good examples of games to get into.
- Take Advantage of Brain Training Apps: Apps like Lumosity and Elevate help boost your brainpower by testing your focus, speaking abilities, memory and more.
Replace Social Media with these Hobbies that Nourish your Body & Soul…
- Practice Yoga: Long gone are the days when I thought yoga was just all about sitting with legs crossed and chanting ‘ohms’ for hours on end. After my first ever yoga experience in India (because, why not?), I quickly corrected that myth! If you are interested in starting up this practice or work on your consistency, there are several youtube videos to choose get you going. You can also check out the Yogaspot for a physical instructor-led class.
- Pray or Practice Meditation: Set some time aside daily to just sit and be present. If you are religious, this time could be for your devotions.
- Take up Dancing: Learn the salsa or zanku or azonto! You’ll be glad you did at your next wedding dance-off!
- Make a Podcast: Have something interesting buzzing in your head? Work on recording your thoughts and conversations and sharing them with like minds.
- Work on Minimalism: Learn to simplify every aspect of your day-to-day living.
- Get Serious about Exercising: This one has been a reoccurring item on our new year’s resolution list. Replace social media time with exercise time, your body and mind will thank you for it.
- Declutter your Home: Spend some time doing some deep cleaning of your home. Give away items you do not need anymore, move furniture around and again, work on minimalism.
- Spend Time with Family and Friends: When you can physically connect, do so. Where that isn’t possible, organize conference calls with your loved ones and spend time catching up.
- Practice Self-care: Give yourself a facial, sip a cup of tea, breathe in, breathe out.
- Get a Good Night’s Sleep: Preferably one that doesn’t involve taking your phone to bed.
Replace Social Media with these Hobbies that Ignite your Creativity…
- Get into Gardening: If you have the space, try growing fruits or vegetables you love or become a plant mum or dad!
- Try Some DIY Projects: There are so many resources and projects to choose from. Choose a long term project you love, like renovating your bedroom, to keep you busy and content to be without social media.
- Learn How to Sew: Or crotchet. Imagine being able to make your own clothes! Such fun!
- Learn to Play an Instrument: Like learning a new language, learning how to play an instrument takes time. A lot of time and practice too.
- Learn about Photography: There’s much more to photography than just getting a camera and clicking away. You can replace social media by learning about various concepts to take your photography to the next level. As a content creator, this skill will definitely come in handy once you decide to return to the world of social media after your break.
- Learn or Improve your Cooking Skills: Wasn’t this the main isolation takeaway? I got heavily involved too! Cooking and baking my way throughout this whole period. It has been such a delight but I am still not at my apex. So this is a skill I’m constantly working on improving until I get to pre-chef level!
- Learn How to Bake: The goal is to become a master baker – that doesn’t sound right. Let’s rephrase. Cakes, scones, pies… anything that needs baking, I want to learn to do it and you may consider doing so too.
- Pickup Painting or Colouring: You can get adult coloring books or host an organize a paint and sip party. Both can help reduce anxiety and spark creativity.
- Learn to Braid your Own Hair: This one is easier said than done. I tried to learn to do this recently and it was an epic fail! You know what they say about Practice. I’m not giving up yet!
- Reorganize your Camera Roll: You know you’ve been planning to do this for the longest time. It’s time to back up and declutter your photo archives. In with new, out with the old!
- Try your Hands at Events Planning: If you suspect you have a flair for planning events, you can try to challenge yourself further. Perhaps you have a friend who needs help planning a birthday party or a wedding? Try reaching out to see how you can put your skills to work.
Replace Social Media with these Hobbies that Involve the Environment, Outdoors & Community…
- Volunteer in your Local Community: Find a good cause in your local community to contribute your time to. Currently, I am not sure if a directory of volunteer programs exists, however, you may not have to look too far to find something you can contribute to. A lot of churches, for example, have programs like this. So, you can contact your local church or religious centre, schools, hospitals etc.
- Crowdfund for Charitable Causes: You can decide to do so for an existing project or kick-start one of yours.
- Go Hiking: I’m not very sure about hiking trails within Lagos, but if you live outside the city, there are quite a few to choose from. My favourite is Erin Ijesha. If you live around Osun and Ekiti States, this is an option to check out and it is a great hobby to replace social media with.
- Take a Bike Ride: or if you are like me, learn to ride one first!
- Go Swimming: or again, learn to do so first! Apart from being great exercise, I think swimming is a life skill and any time you spend improving this skill is time well spent.
- Organize a Picnic: Spend a relaxing time outdoors with your friends or family, away from social media.
- Go Kayaking: If you have access to a lake, this is a good outdoor activity to indulge in.
- Play a Sport you Love: Football, basketball, tennis? Spend time playing a sport you love.
- Become a Marathoner: Set a goal to run a marathon (probably the Lagos City Marathon, usually held in February) and spend the next few months preparing for it by becoming an avid runner.
- Go Camping: Replace social media with a day out camping or even glamping! Camping in Nigeria isn’t very popular and you’ll hardly find sites suitable for this. So, take extra precautions when deciding where to pitch your tent.
Replace Social Media with these Activities that Involve Finances, Activism…
- Review your Finance Statements: A few years ago, I was meeting up with some friends and one of them made a statement that shocked me. She mentioned that a certain Nigerian bank was notorious for quietly taking sums of money from customers’ accounts. “Review your finance statements!” She yelled as her goodbye message. I did and found out that there were indeed sums of money I could not account for. Most of them were quite small but I followed up with the bank and got them to either revert or explain the transactions. I will echo her words and advice that you take some time out to do the same.
- Get updates about your Financial Records: The hassle of chasing after a tiny sum of money was a lot and eventually, after making a few changes to how I ran that account, I stopped doing detailed monthly reviews. That was until two months ago when Mark and I decided to start working on an early retirement plan. I found another ‘suspicious’ amount removed from my account which I am now trying to get clarification on with the bank. If you don’t already have one, start fostering a relationship with your Account Manager, so issues with your account can be resolved on time.
- Draw up your Monthly Budget: Replace social media time by drawing up a daily, monthly or weekly budgets if you have not done so already. Track and review expenses to find areas where you can improve upon.
- Cancel Subscriptions: If you’ve signed up to a bunch of services, review them and cancel the ones you no longer need or can do without.
- Research about Opportunites to Grow your Income: Thinking about starting a business on the side or earning a passive income? Get busy with researching about the opportunites available to you.
- Learn about Investment Options: Read about investment options within your risk apetite and start getting your money to work for you.
Social Media is undoubtedly changing the face of activism around the world. Here in Nigeria, I have seen several movements that started out online grow to have offline impacts and I have seen the Government respond to situations mainly because there was an online outrage.
So, naturally, one of the things I thought about while writing this article was how to keep supporting movements you believe in, especially if like me, you have considered giving up social media altogether. I thought about options that might work in other parts of the world, but not necessarily here in ours. Things like writing to your representatives or signing a petition? Do those work in Nigeria?
If your politically inclined (as everyone should be), and are looking for options to replace social media with, here are a few things to do instead of social media.
- Support Good Local Activism Movements: You already know some of these organizations, so just follow up with them outside social media. Sign up to receive a Newsletter from them, keep up with the latest information on their websites and donate to support their activities.
- Spend Time Interacting with your Community: It is not surprising to know that news travels fast. If you want to keep abreast of the latest political happenings, you only just need to ask around.
Tips to Battle Social Media Addiction
Bonus: Tips to Battle Social Media Addiction
Here are some tips to help if you are finding it difficult to replace social media;
- Delete Social Media apps on your phone: This is the only way you can resist the urge to keep checking them.
- Use only the desktop websites at restricted times.
- Disable Social Media notifications: Even after my break, I have kept the notification feature disabled.
- Monitor and Measure: Set a screen time limit on your phone
- Don’t have your phone in bed when you go to sleep.
Well, there you have it! A long list of 50 activities and hobbies to replace social media! Cheers to taking a break when you need one and more conscious use of social media applications!