(Lovely photo of the setting sky I took on my evening walk today… the soft pastel colours truly put me at ease. What a beautiful world we live in <3)
So I wrote this last night in my sleep-deprived mind-set, because it was something that was just really irking me and making me quite anxious if I’m honest with you. And now I’d like to share it with you all, because I’m sure a lot of you feel the same things on some level.
What I want to talk about is social media.
I spend so much time on social media, to the point where it’s reeeally becoming a bit toxic for me.
I hate being absorbed in such a tiny screen, and hours just seem to fly by without my even noticing when I’m online. Sometimes I do notice, and that makes it even worse, because I can’t stop. I feel stuck. It just fills every gap of my day. Waiting at the bus stop or in the car. Sitting on my bed after I get home from school. Scrolling through pages and pages, meaningless by the time tomorrow reaches, before I go to bed. And for what?
Where is the time that we donate to ourselves? That we donate to others? That we donate to the world around us, the one that we actually live in, not one that we’ve created for ourselves in this tiny little box?
I know it seems a bit ironic, that I’m making a post about this online, the very thing that I am detesting. I’m adding to my collection of views. Pruning my social feeds.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the community of social media that I am in. It’s a place where I am able to help others and myself through sharing my experiences and sufferings, and along the way I’ve gotten to meet some pretty inspiring people, too. I feel considerably less alone than a year or two ago.
But it’s also taking its toll on me. This consumption. This urge and obsession for likes and comments. I won’t lie, I’ve been victim to it. I just don’t want it to take away from my life. I think that’s the line.
Life is beautiful, guys. And we’re missing it! Locked away in these screens. We’re absolutely missing the point. Why search something up on your little box when you can live it?
Just a random throw-in thought here, too: whenever I witness a truly beautiful moment when I’m out and about and immersed in nature’s glory, I always immediately get this strong urge to take a photo. “This would be a great backdrop for your next instagram post on how beautiful life is.” And that’s fine! The problem is that I start to stress that I’m not enjoying the moment like I should be, I feel that ever-pressing guilt that I’ve been swept up by social media, and neither self-peace nor captured photo is accomplished. Like, seriously, Breanna. (Ah, lookie, the essence of my anxiety: indecisiveness of the simplest tasks.)
Anyway, I’m kinda going off on a tangent. But that gets me thinking… maybe I need to set down some ground rules to help reduce this intoxication of social media, the guilt that ensues from it, and the consequences of what it takes from me!
So, here are my new ground rules (as of me writing this, right now.) You’re welcome to adopt them if you like, or modify them to suit you better. But I think having guidelines for your online usage is so important, so you don’t get swept away from life rather than in it…
1. Turn off all social media apps past 9pm.
I know a lot of people turn off their phones completely, but me being me I play out every scenario of how my night is going to go, and I worry that by turning off my phone, someone I care about may need me and won’t be able to reach me. Solution: ensure all my loved ones have my number, and mute all unnecessary apps!
2. Get into the habit of doing something proactive before going to bed, if you’re a restless soul like me.
I think part of the reason I’m so quick to jump onto social media at night before bed, in bed when I can’t sleep, first thing in the morning etc. is because I’m so RESTLESS and need to do something to clear my head!!!! Instead of adding on the extra minutes on my phone, I’m going to be avidly trying to do something that doesn’t involve my phone screen before bed. This can be a variety of things; reading a few pages or chapter of my book, watching a show that I like with my mum and cats, doing a crossword puzzle or word search, drinking my favourite hot drink of tea while I just simply SIT with myself and contemplate my overly-neglected thoughts by either writing or thinking (have some me-time, you know? Tune in to the little-me’s that make up my brain… they’re worthy of my attention too!), or going outside for a few minutes to look at the stairs and forget about myself in the presence of the vast expanse of the universe for a bit. You can change it up each night, however you want, as long as it’s a refreshing, positive or peaceful activity of self-awareness, reflection and/or compassion.
3. Allocate sectioned times for your social media usage during the day
I most certainly am NOT a routine-sticker. My actions and thoughts flicker and change every day. I obsess over planning, yet I HATE structure with a burning passion. But, I do believe it’s good to have a guide in place to help keep you on track, even if you’re in a chaotic loop-de-loop like me every day. I am going to start by allocating 1 hour maximum of social media every day, maximum of 15 minutes in one sitting, and see how I go from there – some days I may increase this slightly as I wish, and if I can reduce it, even better! I won’t keep the schedule too rigid. Hence, don’t beat yourself up if you go a little (or even a lot) over the limit. Building good habits takes time, just like what I was saying in my blog post on tips to develop self-compassion a few weeks ago. I will also restrain myself from going on it first thing when I wake up and get home from school, however I won’t ban myself completely during these times. Again, allow some flexibility. It’s just the same as removing any bad habit or addiction… you’ve gotta do it s l o w and gentle. 🙂
4. Aim to increase your physical exercise to combat your itch to return to your phone!
Once you’ve put your phone down, keep that bad boy down and keep active! Of course, sometimes exercise just seems like a drag, especially when we feel unmotivated. But it doesn’t have to be as big or spectacular as going for a run three times around the block or forcing yourself to go for a walk (although you most certainly can, if you want to! Don’t feel guilty if that’s not for you, though!). It can be as simple and as little as doing 5 minutes of yoga in your backyard, doing some stretches as you take in your surroundings, or even just takin a walk to the kitchen! Pairing your activity with the outside world will do wonders for your mind and soul if you can, especially if it’s a sunny day – enjoy this world while you have it! I truly believe nature has powers to heal us from the inside out. Even if you just look out the window for a few seconds on your walk to the kitchen, and actively get your mind to notice at least 3 things that you can see outside. You may surprise yourself with things you’ve never even noticed before.
5. Less scrolling, more engaging.
Yeah, sure, we’re being social on our phones. It IS called social media, right? Yes. Correct. The way I use social media IS to connect with people, and that’s wonderful. But next time you’re scrolling, think to yourself…
- Am I engaging, or just scrolling?
- If I am engaging with others through social media, is it worth my time if I am on my phone/is it something I am actually benefiting from right now?
- Are there people who are currently here with me, in person, whom I feel comfortable socialising with and would actually make me feel better engaging with in reality rather than sitting on my phone?
So often, we push people who are closest to us away, and a lot of the time, we don’t even realise. Cherish the moments you have with the people physically here for you in your life, right now. Don’t waste all your time and energy in a screen. Be mindful of your present moment.
If you feel like a challenge, and the person(s) you are currently with in person are not people you know very well – ie. sitting at a bus stop with a stranger – put your phone away and engage in real-talking conversation with them! Of course, don’t push yourself if you don’t feel comfortable. But every friendship starts from the simple introduction of saying hello.
6. Don’t do things half-heartedly.
This is a saying that I still remember from my dad when he told it to me years ago. It’s stuck with me since then. I often feel bad that I push this little saying away, and have done many things half-heartedly many times. But I think it’s important to try and remember as much as possible, and to stop and listen to it. If you’re watching a show, watch it. With your full attention. If you’re spending time with someone, don’t keep checking your phone every 5 minutes. Turn it off if you really can’t help it. Just don’t let your phone steal precious moments from your life, more than it already has.
So, those are my 6 main tips for combating the pull of social media for now!
Please, please, please share with me any other tips for reducing screen-time obsession if you have any! I am always open to suggestions and I’m sure a lot of other people will benefit from it too, myself included!
Alright. Thus concludes another very lengthy post on my behalf. I hope you are all having a wonderful day/night, you lovely people. (It is currently 9:07pm for me over here in Aus, so I’m going to start unwinding now.)
Until next time!
Lots of love 🙂 ❤