Mental nourishment in the form of unplugging

My year of happy project is nourish, and for me, a huge part of nourish is making sure you’re in a place where you feel mentally and emotionally nourished.

Today let’s talk about social media 🙂

If you’re on any of the social media platforms, you’ll regularly hear your friends/ followers mention that the noise is too much.

The social media noise, that is.

We’re all aware of Facebook envy, where you imagine that people’s lives are the sum total of their updates, because nobody posts about the flip side of the coin, real life.

Instagram has made it a little worse for some people, I’d imagine, with beautiful pictures of families, homes, baking, and so on.

I remember when we went on a beach holiday, scrolling through my phone pictures, I’d see both Instagram-worthy photos (the beach…) and also the moments between Instagrams, like time outs and laundry day craziness.

The truth is I’ve never really felt like I needed to unplug because I try to live life on my own terms and not compare myself to others… and I feel relatively well balanced.

You see, I set up some boundaries for myself years ago which are now very firmly entrenched habits:

  1. I like to be more of a contributor than a consumer on social media. If I’m on a particular site, it’s first to contribute (post, photo, etc.) and then to consume (check other people’s pretty pics and status updates).
  2. I also use social media to connect with people. So if I scroll through my feed and see something I enjoy, whether a post or a photo, I’m probably going to comment or “like” that snippet. I want people to know I’m reading, watching and enjoying catching up with them, no matter how superficial.
  3. And of course, being a time management coach, I do have very firm time boundaries for myself.

Also, very old-fashioned of me, but I actually still use Pinterest for my original reasons, storing bookmarks and websites I may want to reference again, and of late, as a search engine for pretty things.

I have, in the past, prayed and felt like I couldn’t hear very well because my brain felt too cluttered.

I sensed then that I should take a bit of a social media fast to clear my head a bit.

Since I didn’t feel that it was completely necessary to not have any involvement, I did a “light version”:

  • I blogged in advance for the week ahead.
  • No internet at night after supper. Night times were now reserved for cooking, husband and kids, gym, photos, prayer and Bible reading and other projects… like the good old days!
  • When I’m at work, I only read blogs while eating my lunch so if I could only read and comment on three blogs during that time, then so be it.

What were the results?

  1. I got a ton of things done around the house.
  2. I heard a lot from God – I journalled too so I wouldn’t forget it all.
  3. I felt calmer and more peaceful.
  4. There was more time so I slept more during that week. My usual was 7 hours back then and I was getting in 7.5 – 8 hours daily.
  5. Of course my Feedly had about 200 items in it (I was subscribed to about 75 blogs) and I unsubscribed from a few feeds, the ones where I wasn’t even slightly tempted to do some catch-up reading.

I still don’t think I’ll do it very often but I think I’m sold on doing at least a quarterly social media fast.

What about you?

How do you think this could benefit your life?

Is it time to do a social media fast?

 

PS I’ve even heard of someone who does one every weekend, and another who does a week once a month. If you’d like to chat about getting help with your own time boundaries, contact me.

So I did a social media fast

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I’ve only done a social media fast once before, about 3 years ago.

I can’t remember exactly what my restrictions were then, but I do remember not blogging or reading blogs was one of the big things.

This time I just had a sense that I needed to stop the noise for a bit and use that time to pray.

And then our church just finished a celebration week called #nationscalledtoprayer which inspired me to get going.

I chatted to a friend who agreed to do it with me but I would have gone the distance alone too (I’m an Upholder, remember?).

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Some of my self-imposed rules:

  • only allowed to post to Instagram and reply to my own posts’ comments
  • no random Facebook scrolling
  • I don’t do twitter or snapchat or any of those other things
  • no blogging – both posting and reading – I had two posts scheduled
  • no non-Christian podcasts
  • no fiction; only allowed to read the Bible and non-fiction Christian (more on this later)
  • email was allowed

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Here are some of the things I learned over the week:

  1. When I posted on Monday morning, I asked for prayer requests. As these came in, I wrote them down in my bullet journal and prayed over them faithfully every day. I’m still taking prayer requests and I won’t stop praying for your situations. I honestly felt privileged to pray and while prayer is not really my thing, I love praying for others. I prayed a lot for rain (it rained twice!).
  2. I’m a more engaged mother, wife, friend, colleague when I’m not seeing my phone blinking at me. No surprise.
  3. I read some hard bits in the Bible that spoke to some things I’m going through. I learned that I need to be unplugged to hear some things clearly.
  4. I have to leave my phone to charge outside my bedroom every single night (I’d got lazy over the months). It’s amazing how focussed you are with reading when there isn’t a blinking phone to distract you.
  5. By the same token, life is better when I leave my phone in my bag when at work. One day I worked from home, my computer was having trouble connecting to my work emails but my phone was working, so I was answering work emails on my phone. And if you saw comments or “accidental” likes on your posts, it probably happened that day 😮
  6. I loved checking in with my friend to encourage and be encouraged by her. We spoke twice last week, and whatsapped daily, and emailed a couple of times. All of this was great to keep us both on track and remind us both to stay focussed.
  7. It was hard for me to see my podcasts piling up……. but awesome to get up to date with my photos.
  8. There’s so much time without social media. Seriously, hours and hours in the evening. I practised my Spanish, cooked, ate, and then there were still 3 – 4 hours left before sleep.
  9. I felt like while I connected less on social media, I connected more fully when I did engage with people whether in person, on the telephone or even via whatsapp.
  10. I really need to be reading fiction. My usual routine is to start a book on a Thursday night, just enough to whet my appetite for my weekend reading. On Friday I could no longer resist and I started a book which felt all the sweeter because I hadn’t read any fiction for 4 whole days 🙂 To make up for my lapse, I made sure to finish my non-fiction book on the weekend.

That’s it.

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Will I do it again?

Undoubtedly. It was one of the most fun weeks I’ve had this year, a wonderful time of sharing with my friend and a great time of praying for other people.

In fact, I think I want to do something like this for a couple of days a month but

How might I change things?

Next time I will allow myself some fiction reading daily so I don’t binge when I start (I read that book in about 6 hours flat).

Have you ever done a social media fast? What were some of your restrictions?

What I learnt from my social media fast

IMG_3745

 

Let’s face it – if you’re involved in social media, you’ll regularly hear your real and Facebook friends mention that the noise is too much.

The social media noise, that is.

We’re all aware of Facebook envy, where you imagine that people’s lives are the sum total of their updates, because nobody posts about the flip side of the coin, real life.

Instagram has made it a little worse for some people, I’d imagine, with beautiful pictures of families, homes, baking, and so on.

I remember when we went on a beach holiday, scrolling through my phone pictures, I’d see both Instagram-worthy photos (the beach…) and also the moments between Instagrams, like three-year-old time outs and laundry day craziness.

The truth is I’ve never felt like I needed to unplug because I try to live life on my own terms and not compare myself to others… and I feel relatively well balanced. Well enough that I can coach other people in total integrity knowing I am being authentic.

You see, I set up some boundaries for myself years ago which are now very firmly entrenched habits:

  1. I like to be more of a contributor than a consumer in any social media. If I’m on a particular site, it’s first to contribute (post, photo, etc.) and then to consume (check other people’s pretty pics and status updates).
  2. I also use social media to connect with people. So if I scroll through my feed and see something I enjoy, whether a post or a photo, I’m probably going to comment or “like” that snippet. I want people to know I’m reading, watching and enjoying catching up with them, no matter how superficial.
  3. And of course, being a time management coach, I have very firm time boundaries for myself.

Also, very old-fashioned of me, but I actually still use Pinterest for my original reasons, storing bookmarks and websites I may want to reference again, and of late, as a search engine for pretty things.

All of that said, a few weeks ago, I was praying and I just felt like I couldn’t hear very well because my brain felt too cluttered.

I sensed that I should take a bit of a social media fast to clear my head a bit.

Since I didn’t feel that it was completely necessary to not have any involvement, I did a “light version”:

  • I blogged in advance for the week ahead.
  • No internet at night once I got home from work. Night times were now reserved for cooking, husband and kids, gym, photos, prayer and Bible reading and other projects… like the good old days!
  • I only read blogs while eating my lunch at work and if I could only read and comment on three blogs during that time, then so be it.

What were the results?

  1. I got a TON of things done around the house. Just call me the Organising Queen J
  2. I heard a lot from God – I journalled too so I wouldn’t forget it all.
  3. I felt calmer and more peaceful.
  4. There was more time so I slept more during that week. My usual is at least 7 hours and I was getting in 7.5 – 8 hours daily.
  5. Of course my Feedly had about 200 items in it (I subscribe to about 75 blogs) and I unsubscribed from a few feeds, the ones where I wasn’t even slightly tempted to do some catch-up reading.

I still don’t think I’ll do it very often but I think I’m sold on doing at least a quarterly social media fast.

What about you?

How do you think this could benefit your life?

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