I did a week-long media deprivation—and this is what I learned.

Let me start at the beginning.

The Artist’s Way book by Julia Cameron. I’ve had this book for over 20 years. I have worked through part of it several times, and have seen so many amazing benefits from it.

Somehow I never make it to the end. I’d fall off somewhere around week five or so. This time I decided to work through it with a friend and it has made all the difference. It helps that she is also my accountability partner.

This time I went in knowing that I wanted to really do it. Completely commit. And I have. I’ve given myself that the leeway that sometimes instead of doing the ‘week’ in a week I do it in two. But every day come rain or shine, my morning pages are done and there is an Artist’s Date done every week. This has now become second nature. And something I look forward to each day/week. It is time just for me. And in a world that is filled with things that I need to do for others, it is so important to make myself a priority. That is not selfish. It is realistic. If I don’t take care of myself then I can’t take care of the other things in my life that I need to.

That brings us to now.

Last week was week four in the Artist’s Way and a big part of that was Media Deprivation. This meant I couldn’t watch TV, videos, go on social media, or read anything. I was allowed music and nothing else.

Basically, it was going to clean out all of the external information to really be able to see what I think. I was super nervous about it. And as I come out the other side, I have to say I was not nervous enough.

It was hard. But oh so rewarding. I found out a lot about myself and about how I take in media. Long story short, I took in too much and for the wrong reasons. By day two, I was so cranky, and I realized I was totally going through some media detoxing. WOW! I didn’t think I consumed that much. But apparently, I did.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I LEARNED:

I was using reading and watching to entertain me all the time. Eating breakfast or lunch? I was reading a book. Washing the dishes. Listen to a podcast. Sitting down for a minute? Oh, maybe a YouTube Video. Climbing into bed? What is going on with Instagram Reels? Or what about some reading. And this didn’t even account for any of the notifications that popped up on my phone. I was super plugged in and super anxious. And I didn’t even realize it.

So this past week, I shut it all down with the caveat that I still needed to work. So I answered emails from people that contacted me or that I needed to in order to continue working. But other than that I didn’t google a thing. I didn’t post on Instagram, and I didn’t even open Facebook. I didn’t hear or see any advertisements.

WHAT WERE THE BENEFITS, YOU ASK?

I was able to settle and listen to my intuition. And play games with my daughter—we played so many. And lots of chatting happened along the way. I cooked dinners. And had long conversations with friends. I went for walks. Went to a couple of zoom events. And I went to sleep when I was tired. I organized several areas of my house that I have been meaning to. I wrote a lot. And listened to a ton of music.

AT THE END OF IT, I THOUGHT, ‘WHAT DID I REALLY MISS?’

I missed reading. I missed novels and reading cookbooks.

And I craved more interaction with people. Real people. And real connections.

I want to figure out how to be more intentional about my consumption of media. And some non-media activities to wind down with. It was interesting to realize that when I was winding down, I was always consuming some sort of information. And that tended to overstimulate me. And overstimulation tended to amp up my anxiety level.

So on my list for this week is to think of activities I can do when I am overstimulated. So far I have going outside and just sitting and enjoying a change of place. Or as strange as it sounds—a shower. A shower is a great reset for me. And driving by myself. In each of these activities, I have to be in the moment and just enjoying the quiet.

I have realized that quiet is not a bad thing and that I don’t always have to be entertained—sometimes I can just be. Just be me. Just be quiet. Just take in the moment. Just take a breath and be.

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