Ah, the New Year.
There is something about January 1st that gives us a refreshing sense of newness and ambition to be better. Though New Year’s Resolutions are not my favorite, I do think starting off the New Year right is MUST.
Many people attempt to begin the New Year on a good note by doing things such as creating a mission statement, starting a healthy eating plan, getting a gym membership, or even organizing their house. However, I’ve come to realize that one of the most effective ways to start off the New Year is by fasting.
Fasting is primarily defined as abstaining from food or drink for a certain period of time. Fasting helps us to focus on prayer and fellowship with God by temporarily denying something that is habitual or necessary for us. It helps our minds get back to a place of realization that we are utterly dependent on Christ and His sufficiency.
While fasting is usually associated with abstaining from a certain type of food, we can also fast from things that we heavily rely on or that take up much of our time. As I was considering what kind of fast to start off the New Year with, a really repulsive option came to my mind: a media fast.
What is a Media Fast & Why Should I Do It?
That’s right: no TV, social media, games, music, movies, Youtube, Netflix—nada. (You can still use your phone for texting and calling, no worries there.) When the thought of a media fast came to mind, I immediately blew it off. “That’s way too hard and unrealistic,” I thought to myself. It does seem a little unrealistic considering the amount of time we spend doing media related things.
According to Hacker Noon, the average person spends over 4 hours a day on their phone for social media purposes. That’s 86 hours a month! Furthermore, Statista states the average U.S. consumer spends 3.6 hours watching TV a day. Another study by MediaKix shows that over the average lifetime, most will spend 7 years and 8 months watching TV and 5 years and 4 months on Social Media. I don’t know about you, but those statistics alone reveal a global obsession with media.
The truth is, doing a media fast isn’t unrealistic or impossible, it’s just extremely inconvenient for most of us. But can I offer you a bit of encouragement that was given to me? Many times we do sincerely desire to hear God, know His voice, and get in tune with His heart. While our desire may be authentic and real, are we willing to tune out the noise of our loudest competitor in order to tune in to what God is doing and speaking?
Fine– I’m in. What’s Next?
Twenty-one days. Give this thing 21 days. This is a common amount of time for any type of fasting. It’s a long enough period of time to begin developing a healthy habit and honestly, it goes pretty fast! Whether you decide to start this fast on January 1st or on any other day of the year, mark out the FULL 21 days on your calendar, which means start on sun up of day 1 and end on sun up of day 22.
Because media is such a habitual part of our lives, some people find it helpful to completely delete the apps they frequently use to make it less of a temptation. I’ve also heard of people putting signs on their TV saying, “Don’t watch me!” so they remember not to turn it on. Whatever will help you, do it! Also, tell a friend what you’re doing and have them keep you accountable. Or, challenge them to do it with you!
I realize that some people have to use social media for their jobs– I do! This is not a big deal, just get your posting and scheduling done and try your best not to mindlessly scroll for entertainment sake. However, I do still check my emails on the fast. As a blogger, I also made an exception to be able to write on my blog and post on it.
I also made an exception to the “no music” rule and just listen to Christian music for the 21 days. You can modify these rules however you need to, just remember the heart of “tuning out” to “tune in”.
Ideas of What to Do Instead of Media
You’ll be amazed at how much time you normally spend on media when it’s no longer an option! Here are some ideas of things to do while you are media-less:
- Get a few books you’ve been wanting to read
- Board games–play them!
- Read your Bible or start a new bible study
- Make a 21 Day Prayer journal and write in it when you feel like you want to grab your phone or watch TV
- Cook for fun!
- Take a walk/ walk your dog.
- Create things! (That’s right–without Pinterest.)
- Call your friend/relative you haven’t talked to in awhile
- Clean and organize cluttered spaces that drive you bonkers
- Write an encouraging note to a friend
- Invite friends over to hang out/have dinner/ play a game
Establish a Clear Vision
These next 21 days will be hard– but most good things are. As you prepare to start your media fast, have a clear vision of what you want to learn and pursue in these next 21 days. Some examples could be, “In these 21 days, I want to..
– Grow closer to God and focus on hearing Him
– Spend more quality time with my husband, kids and/or friends
– Learn how to be authentically creative without media-inspiration
– Develop new habits on how to spend my free time wisely
– Make space to pray and prepare for the New Year
Whatever your vision, you can count on this: you will learn so much. Anticipate it! And most importantly remember the heart of fasting. Remember Jesus words from Matthew 6:16-18,
“Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
Will you be participating in the 21 Day Media Fast?