Let’s talk about social media for a second, but from a mental health perspective. Last Sunday, I was telling my friend Brettney that I monitor my screen time like a hawk. We were talking about social media habits, the hours we spend online and the resilience it takes to distance ourselves from the blue glow of our mobiles and the constant noise.
Last year, I had become peculiarly attentive to the fact that my brain was being fried from being continuously switched on. The impact was a little bit scary to tell you the truth. I was always distracted, my attention span was being compromsied, my phone had become some kind of weird third hand and in my quiet moments (where I would have previously picked up a book) I would numbingly scroll through my Instagram feed.
Like the scores of people that I’m close to who are digital entrepreneurs, social media management is an essential thread that runs through my life. I’m scaling a business on it; I manage several different communities on it and I create content for it. In truth, while I love the power of social media -it’s a heady feeling to grow an engaged community – and champion the power of all the tools, there is another part of me that had to acknowledge that the constant signalling came with a price.
My attention is finite. My mental energy is limited and once I began to ignore these two facts, it also made me a perfect high-risk target for experiencing the negative side effects that come along too much exposure.
So on Sunday when I shared with Brettney the ways I had reclaimed my time and got a little less plugged, I was actually really proud of myself. You wouldn’t think it, but digital detoxes are so important for your mental well being. Here’s how I did it.
1) I scheduled my screen time and programmed my phone to let me know how many hours I was spending a week on it. If it went over 4 hours per day, (don’t forget I run a digital business); I cut back the following week
2) I began to work on my client’s tasks in batches and when I was done, I was done. I stopped looking at social media continuously during the day⠀
3) I stopped treating still moments as times to check my phone. At my desk, I pushed away from it every two hours or so to take 5-7 deep, cleansing breaths or a water break.
4) I decided to sleep without my phone next to me that stopped me from reaching for it first thing in the morning’. At the gym (this was my big hurrah), I used my wireless headphones to connect to Itunes while the phone remained in my bag and in the locker. There would be no checking of social while I was working out.
5) I set goals for the amount of time needed to complete tasks and kept track by monitoring the time I was spending on social.
6) I had digital detox days where I simply did not post any content and while I use auto schedulers judiciously, they became a lifeline.
7) I kept my feed full of inspiration from bossbabes who inspire me. I followed accounts that motivated my mental and physical wellbeing rather than the curated, “perfect” accounts. The comparison rabbit hole can be easy to fall into. ⠀
8) When I felt overwhelmed with my work on sociaI media I recognised I was not delegating enough and asked my team members to level up their game
Learning all these things and more importantly being rigorous in my application of them, made me see that the passage of hours into nothingness can be alarming and strange; however, you only see this when you become self-aware. While it is impossible for me to be completely switched off 100% of the time, making these changes has allowed me to take better care of my health and mental well being.
How are you being more judicious about your use of social media? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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