I came late to the blogging and social media game – part and parcel of being a technophobe and deeply suspicious of technology to be honest. But when I finally succumbed to curiosity, I was hooked. The introvert in me loved being able to choose when to communicate and best of all, it was from the safety of my home because now as we all know, introverts are not known to be sociable. Social media gave my teeny, tiny inner extrovert the opportunity to shine and I found it amazing to literally never be switched off or disconnected from the world. Yet ironically, that was also the problem.
For someone who suffers with anxiety and depression already, the constant pressure to be ‘on’ and having an amazing time whilst also being ready to capture it, was stiffling. It got to the point that I was experiencing my life through the lens of my iPhone and not really seeing things properly. I was so caught up in it, I simply didn’t realise. It took my sister questioning my constant phone use during a rare day out without the kids, that I realised maybe I was a bit obsessed.
The more I thought about it, the more I realised that I was constantly checking numbers and different statistics, constantly comparing myself with other bloggers. Eventually it got to the point where I spent more time creating content that I didn’t always feel passionate because I felt under pressure to post. I lost my passion for writing which honestly was the whole reason that I started blogging. I wanted to write and share my experiences and opinions. I was starting to spend more time blogging than I did with the people who mean something to me or indulging in my other hobbies. I can’t tell you the last time that I read a glossy magazine, let alone a book.
So, I decided to detox. Completely cold turkey and spent two weeks away from blogging or social media. I’d love to say that I didn’t access anything online, but I did. I wrote a lot, finally completed some backend tasks on my website that were long overdue and obviously browsed on makeup websites, (I’m detoxing, not having a personality transplant). But as for Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, I completely switched off and let my scheduled posts run out.
So… what did I do with all my free time?
Prepare to Move House
Well, the main thing that I’ve been focusing almost all of my time on at the moment, is my impending house move which is still looming over me. Honestly, the situation isn’t ideal (one day I will write a post about it) but for now I’m still processing all the lead up to it and worrying about what is still to come.
As you are all aware, I suffer quite with anxiety and I do not cope at all well with uncertainty. My current situation is both uncertain, not my fault and remains out of my control. For me, that is insanely difficult enough, without seeing on social media the perceived expectations for where I should be at my age. I just don’t need to see that right now.
Work, work, work, work, work, work
For any of you who don’t know, my secret day job is as a primary teacher. And despite what people believe, is hectic enough at any time of the year. However, summer is even more frantic when end of year report writing season is upon us. Even though I am experienced, (feel free to read that as old) I am a busy little bee at the moment.
There’s absolutely no denying that my job is hard but I absolutely love working with children. Throwing myself into my career by focusing on it helps me to have a positive perspective on life and a real sense of achievement that I struggle to get from other avenues.
As I keep saying, in my personal life, I am currently having an extremely stressful time. I’ve been trying to manage it as best as I can and actually, I think I’m doing pretty well. The main reason that I took a mini-blogging break was so that I could use as much of my spare time as possible to look after myself, relax and stay calm. It was almost like a preventative measure to stop my anxiety from reaching epic proportions and finding myself unable to cope. Been there, done that and I didn’t need to do it again.
I had to cut something out of my life and free up extra time in order to focus on the important things right now and as it wasn’t going to be work or my kids, it had to be the blog. I don’t regret that at all. I’m not superwoman and am probably the only woman in the world who can’t multi-task. I am easily distracted and have lost many an hour down the rabbit hole of my Instagram feed. For a short time, I just needed to do nothing.
And how is my social media detox going to change me?
There’s no point me saying that I am going to give up or significantly reduce my time in social media. Firstly, I love connecting with people and have made some great friends online but secondly, I’m a blogger and social media is a great way to promote my blog posts. What my mini-detox has taught me was just how much time I wasted scrolling through my feeds absent mindedly when I could probably put that time to better use.
To combat this, I’m going to make the best use of scheduling apps like Buffer and Tailwind to make sure that I am not just scrolling away without thinking. I want to be productive when I’m on social media and planning ahead helps me to organise my time and use it well. I’m also going to consider the times of day, when I do want to scroll through my feed (it’s inevitable!) and look at what other people are sharing. First thing in the morning or last thing at night isn’t good for me at all because I find it all very distracting and lose track of time. I’m also going to be a lot more mindful of what I look at. I want my feed to be empowering and full of positivity, no negative thoughts allowed.
The final thing that I’m going to remember, and I think is important for us all to remember, is that social media is a snapshot of the highlights reel of people’s lives. It’s not real. Sometimes, when my anxiety is at its worst, I panic about not living up to the glossy lifestyle that I see from others online. I need to remember that in the same way that I crop huge piles of laundry and teddy bears out of my pictures, other people are cropping things out of theirs too. Remembering this and remembering to live my life offline without constantly checking my phone is the way forward for me and will ensure that I keep my mental health in check.
How do you manage your social media usage? Does it ever affect your mental health?