I think we can all agree social media is both amazing and aggravating. It's amazing how we connect with old friends, make new ones, find spouses and hear about the latest news all in a couple of websites. No matter what your "poison" you can find it all on most social media channels.
The problem is when we feel triggered, incompetent, addicted and/or just plain shitty by logging on. Actually the real problem I guess would be logging on and not being completely aware that we are having these feelings. So maybe let's start there.
How you know you need a social media cleanse:
Take some time after logging out of social media maybe once a day or once a week to "check in" with how you feel afterwards. Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- How do I actually feel? Jealous? Inspired? Angry? Annoyed? Connected?
- Was there a specific topic/post that made you feel this way?
- Was there a specific person/group of people that made you feel this way?
After answering these questions you can make a decision from there. Is how you are feeling, a way you want to feel? If the answer is no, maybe it's time to "cleanse".
Schedule Your Cleanse:
Just like you would schedule some sort of food cleanse, schedule your social media one. Especially if you work in an industry that requires you to be on social media. For those that are social media strategist, one day might be all you can plan for example.
In the scheduling of your cleanse think about taking a decent amount of time if you can though. It's interesting to pick up on what fills your time after a couple of days without. I've done anywhere from 3/4 days to over a week. Which seem like online suicide a bit from a blogger/Instagramer's stand point, engagement and all that shit. However like anything else in life. When you take a break from it you become better at and more efficient at it usually. (I actually find myself most inspired right after a social media break.)
Tell bosses/coworkers you will be taking some time away. Schedule posts if you can/need to. Ask for help from others if possible.
For those that are on social media for the fun of it: well I actually recommend NOT announcing the break. You don't need a bunch of comments and even possibly negativity about it right before you log off. Plus, it is so interesting to come back and notice that you probably haven't missed much at all!
During the Cleanse:
If you can, delete the apps from your phone and log off on your computers. This is important. The harder it is to access it, the easier it is to stay away from it. Have you seen the commercials for those snack vaults? Put your favourite snack in there and set a locked timer on it, so you have to wait the days/hours until you get it. I also remember hearing about people freezing their credit cards in blocks of ice so they had to spend so much time getting it out to buy things. These are hilarious and extreme but in reality, if it makes it harder to get at, you are less likely to use it right?
Enjoy your time. Note when you typically grab for your phone to fill your time with social media. Red lights, line ups, bored on the couch, at the park with your kids, at a socially awkward party (see the irony there? lol). Make mental note of when you grab for you phone and how else you spend your time.
After the Cleanse:
Like a bad diet or juice cleanse, after the discomfort, you may actually feel better, but once it's over you can easily go back to your old ways. So here are some tips for mindful social media consumption post cleanse.
- Turn off notifications on apps. This may give you some sort of anxiety, but honestly I haven't had notifications on any of my apps for months. Maybe even closer to a year. Seeing the notifications and messages and all that's going on every second it comes in can be overwhelming.
- Log on with purpose. You purpose might be to kill some time, avoid that socially awkward party, check the latest news, promote something or so on. But log on trying to acknowledge and be mindful of what you are doing.
- Check your emotional state before, during and after. Notice if you log on to kill time and end up feelin inadequate afterwards. Do you log on to you favourite youtube channel to be inspired but end up feeling shitty afterward? Do you log on to Facebook and into a private group of people who uplift you? Make you feel better? Checking in with all these feeling can help us guide us to the last step.
Delete/Unfollow anyone or anything that makes you feel shitty:
Pretty straightforward I think. Forcing ourselves to follow people or look at their shit even though it makes us feel shitty serves nobody. Even the person you are following. Maybe I'm a bit more cut throat but I regularly unfollow friends on Facebook. We are still friends but have so I don't see their updates. I do this when I'm noticing I'm feeling triggered by them. Whatever they are up to or posting about. Then turn back on maybe when you've sorted your own feelings.
This one can be tough especially is it's family or a co-worker you see every day. Facebook easier then other platforms of course. If your business includes following people/business that make you feel this way, be conscious. Mindful of how you are reacting. This alone will help you work through the feelings so much faster.
Personally I log on and feel angry let's say, I seek attention from my husband, connect with loving my children or workout if I'm especially irritated. I know I don't have to like everyone and they don't have to like me, so I connect with those I do. And that's okay.
How do you take care of yourself in regard to social media? What do you struggle with? Let's chat it out.