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Social Media & Self Care

Social Media & Self Care

I recetnly took a 3 day break from social media, primarily seeking to take a break from my frequent use of Instagram.

It can feel daunting to take a break, especially if you are someone who is trying to build a business, or increase traffic to your blog- taking a break feels like failing to some degree. There’s the fear that people will unfollow you, that you’ll lose momentum, that you’ll start to fade from people’s radar.

Trust in your staying power and remember that your brand, your business, your passions, are just one facet of your life and I hope that you’ll feel comfortable taking a break when you need one.

Here are some signs it might be time for a little break:

You lack headspace
Ever have that brain-too-full feeling?
It usually happened to me when I had been cramming for an exam or had a huge event to prepare for.
Recently it happened when I received inconvenient medical news (a follow up round of diagnostics needed to ensure my cancer from 2 years ago didn’t spread or return) my stepfather needed emergency surgery, my niece had a birthday party, I started an awesome new work project with my husband, his grandfather passed away, all on top of my usual work. It’s both good and bad stuff, but all together it was too much of everything.

When I feel like there are too many things to process it’s best for me to assess what would be the easiest thing to cut from my life, even temporarily. This time the answer was social media. If I tallied all the hours spent taking pictures for posts, posting, commenting on my posts, commenting on other posts, scrolling and liking, it’s probably 4 or so hours out of every day. Not 4 hours straight, but enough time that when I need more headspace, more room to think, that cutting this frees up some time.

If you feel like you don’t have room to think, you don’t have to take 3 days off from social media, or even a full day. But maybe give yourself an entire evening without checking your phone.

Your creativity is faltering
I realized recently that I don’t let myself get bored anymore.
Or more accurately, when I sense potential boredom approaching I reach for my phone and scroll through Instagram.

Historically, I‘ve rarely been truly bored.
Either because I’ve always had a book on hand in moments that intrinsically scream boring (waiting in the doctor’s office, waiting in line, really any time where waiting for something is involved) or because I’ve allowed those “in-between” moments to be a time for my mind to wander. My wandering mind has the ability to come up with new writing projects, to solve plot holes in a piece of fiction I’m working on, and to puzzle over things I’ve learned.

When I don’t allow myself that time I write less, discover less, play less.
Sometimes it’s okay to take a break from scrolling. You might gain some valuable insights in where your mind wanders.

You’re no longer enjoying things in the moment
I stop my local gluten free bake shop every Saturday morning. I get some staples (staples for me, anyway) like bread and muffins, and then pick a few special items either based on specials that look good or items that will photograph well.

And if I don’t have time that day or the next day, or the next, to take a pic, then those items will sit on my counter until I do have time, no matter how tasty they look. In one case this meant an item spoiling before I could enjoy it. What a waste! And all for the appearance of something.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t buy items specifically for interesting images, but what a sad thing to be holding back on something because it would be better to photograph it than to actually enjoy it in real life.

This also applies to bookish adventures. I stopped by Barnes and Noble this weekend and once I parked the car my first thought was, better do a story letting everyone know where I am!
But as I was on a break from social media I simply spent time there for the sake of spending time there, and making purchases, instead of offering “proof” of my bookishness.

This is something I hope to keep in mind when I go to the UK this fall. Of course I want to document my trip, but not so much so that i’m not allowing myself enough time to enjoy the moment as it unfolds, with both eyes open and aware, and not only from behind a camera.

You’re starting to feel like your value as a person is tied up in likes
Here’s a weird little insight into my Instagram experience: If an individual pic receives less than 300 likes it feels like a failure.
That has become my bottom line. It doesn’t matter if dozens of other pics have received over 1k, less than 300 feels gives me a big ol’ WTF feeling.

And while it’s fine to have personal markers for success it’s an issue when you start feeling like it’s a reflection on you personally.

I know that I’m a smart, creative person, and how many likes I do or don’t receive won’t change that.
But sometimes you need to take a step back, to take a little break, in order to remember how awesome you are independent on your social media presence.

And it’s okay to be clear about your need for a break!
When I posted on Instagram about my need for a break I appreciated how many people expressed their understanding and even appreciation for my stepping back for some self-care.

What have you done to help ensure social media balance? Any habits or tricks of the trade you’d like to share?

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