Social Media Break : Update

Reflections on My Social Media Break

Back in May, after a couple of months of overwhelm and anxiety surrounding my social media use, I took a step back and decided to take a break from all social media. What was supposed to be a few days or a week, quickly added up to almost two months away from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go back! But the nature of my work and my advocacy means that I have to have some social media presence, and I know that FOR ME, completely abstaining wasn’t the goal. My social media break was about evaluating how it was affecting me so I can use these tools in a way to enhance my life, not to quit them all together.

Social Media Break : Update

I learned so much during my break, and I wanted to share some of this new knowledge with all of you. If you’re worried about your social media consumption or behaviors, I think these tips might help you figure out a solution!

  1. Take a week to look at you social media behaviors and track them somewhere. I have a bullet journal where I keep everything, but you could use the notes app on your phone if that works better for you! I also installed the Moment App, which tracks how much time you spend on your phone during the day, and can break down what apps you’re spending the most time on. This was a HUGE eye opener for me, as a person who is perpetually “busy” and often feels overwhelmed with all I have to do. Once I literally saw how much time I had been wasting scrolling social media, I knew a break was in order!
  2. Do your research! Two books that really helped me were How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price and Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria Dunckley. The latter was actually a book I picked up as a parent of screen-obsessed kids (more on that soon), but I found a lot of into that was pertinent to my own screen-time habits. The first was an awesome, step-by-step plan of how to cut down on your screen-time as an adult, with lots of tips and hacks (like apps that will block other apps so you can’t use them at certain times of the day!). I highly recommend them both. This podcast (iTunes, Stitcher) actually came out while I was on my social media break, but I thought it was so great I wanted to share it too. It’s a really emotional conversation with Brooke White, the singer and creator, who makes her livelihood on social media…but had decided she needed a break.
  3. Delete all social media apps from your phone. You guys, I tried to keep the apps on my phone so I could still check my work social media and everything for August Light Studio, but it was impossible for me. I kept wanting to “just check in” and see what people were up to. In the end, deleting the apps and then checking work social on my desktop was the only solution and it worked for me.
  4. Make sure you let friends, family and followers that you’ll be on a hiatus. I do a lot of my advocacy work through social media, and a ton of my kids’ school activities are coordinated through it as well. If I just cut off everything without notice, I knew I’d miss out on party invites for the kids and DM’s that needed to be attended to. So I put together a “Social Media Break” post for each social network and posted with my plans, along with ways for people to get a hold of me if needed. I also reached out to friends and family to let them know they should text or call, rather than message or tweet.
  5. Make a list of a few things you’d like to accomplish during your break. I had been struggling to find the time to complete my family photo book from 2017 or submit for a project I’d really been wanting…so those went on my list and I was able to complete both! I also had a few other goals (read some real books, work on content for the blog, get some new clients, etc.) that went on there as well. It made me feel great to know I was using my “free time” wisely and to make my life more full.

After two months away, I felt refreshed and excited about social media again. However, I didn’t feel that way until that point. Earlier on in my break, I wasn’t sure if I’d EVER go back. But I reached a point where I knew I could moderate my social media in a way that was healthy for me and my family. If I reach a point of overwhelm again, I will probably take a mini break before it gets too bad in order to reset. I’ve also evaluated how much I’m posting and when. I no longer post to social media when my kids are around (I save the photos and videos to my phone and then upload them later), and I’m posting only a couple of times a week, instead of daily. I’ve also decided to focus most of my energy on one social media outlet (Instagram!) that I enjoy, instead of spreading my time to all of the platforms. I still have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but they are fairly specialized. For example, I mostly use Twitter for my advocacy and political work, while LinkedIn is all career, such a posts from August Light Studio or client work. I also still don’t have most of the platforms on my phone, and instead post when I’m sitting down at my computer (other than Instagram, which is difficult to post to from a desktop). This helps me create a separation and makes me much more intentional with my posting and scrolling. So far, it’s working for me, but I’m definitely going to continue to evaluate and make sure I feel good…social media shouldn’t make you feel like crap!

Have you ever thought about taking a break from social media? If you have done it, I’d love to hear how you felt about the process? And if you haven’t, I’d love to know why not? What’s holding you back from taking a break? Or do you not feel you need one?

My Social Media Break

For as long as I’ve been writing about my life on the internet (so…14 years, holy crap) I’ve taken intermittent “digital sabbaticals.” I’ve written about them here in the past, with the main objective being taking a break from blogging and focusing more on my day-to-day life. That time has come again, my friends, but it’s different this time around. In fact, I have no idea how many of you will actually even see this post, since I won’t be promoting it on Instagram or Twitter or my personal Facebook. That’s right…I’m taking an extended social media break.

Why social media instead of a “digital sabbatical?” Well, it’s complicated. Except it’s not. The world has changed and while in the past I spent much of my computer and online time perusing and commenting on blogs, these days I find myself scroll, scroll, scrolling on the various social media apps. Most of this social media interaction happens on my phone, meaning it’s within my reach at almost all times of the day and night. This is a disaster for someone who likes to escape from reality…ME!

In the last few years, I’ve found my social media habit increasing as my other poor coping habits were cut out of my life. Don’t get me wrong, quitting alcohol, working toward eating healthy, and exercising are all awesome life changes that I’m really proud of. However, when I need to rest my brain or check out for a bit, my options have become a bit limited. Enter social media.

I’ve felt the need for a break for a while, but in the last few months, it’s really gotten loud out there and my brain was on overload. However, I always found reasons to stay online. I’m a small business owner, and my income depends on me getting the word out about what I’m creating. I’m involved in advocacy, and most of our events and actions have to be shared online. How could I continue to do these things that mean so much to me if I wasn’t posting on social media? I assumed it would be impossible.

In May, there was an incident where I found my social media interaction leading to physical and mental strain. I wasn’t sleeping, my anxiety was through the roof, and while on the surface I handled the situation fairly well, underneath I was exhausted. I knew this was the final sign that I needed a break.

I started with wide perimeters, but quickly realized if I had any access to my social media feeds on my phone, I’d end up scrolling without even knowing how I got there. In the end, I deleted all the social media apps from my phone and posted a social media break message on Twitter, Instagram, and my personal Facebook page. I then deactivated my Facebook account. I am still managing my Twitter and Instagram for August Light Studio and Education First Shawnee Mission, and have kept all of my Facebook business pages up and running, including the page for this blog. Facebook pages don’t require you to scroll through a newsfeed, so I figured I was safe keeping those active.

It’s been about a month, and I’ve found my anxiety has dissipated immensely. I take photos of my kids and upload them to a shared family drive so my close family members can still see them at baseball or camp, without sharing them with everyone on the internet. I have gotten between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. I’ve still been able to do my advocacy work, attending meetings, forums and even hosting a tabling even at a farmer’s market. I have read five books and listened to a ton of amazing podcasts. I talk to my friends daily using the phone (what a notion!) and my Voxer app. I finished my family photo book from last year that’s been sitting on my desktop for six months. I applied for a speaking engagement that’s been on my wish list for ages. I watched the first season of Schitt’s Creek.

But most of all, my focus has shifted in such a positive way, I feel it affecting everything I do. Originally my plan was to be off social media for a month, but a month has passed and I still have no desire to go back. So for now, I’m staying dark on social media, in order to stand in the light in real life. It’s a good trade.

Friendship Goals

Welcome 2018 Part 2 : Friendship Goals

This is a continuation of my post last week on my 2018 goals and plans…you can read part one by clicking here.

While there are tons of things I could’ve focused on for 2018, taking stock of and working on creating more connection and friendship in my life was at the top of my list. Why? Well, there are multiple reasons, but the main one is that I am lonely. Ugh, that’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. I feel a real lack of connection in my daily life, especially with other women, and that’s something that I’d like to change. Honestly, it’s something I’ve wanted to change FOREVER, but I just haven’t had the guts to really do anything about it.

Friendship Goals

I feel like I’m a fairly good friend, but as an outgoing introvert, I often find “friend activities” draining. This is especially true with new friends, where I don’t have a history or ease of communication. There are so many reasons excuses why I haven’t built the friend community that I’d like:

– I had kids when I was young, so I couldn’t relate to people my age
– I couldn’t relate to parents of my kids’ friends because I wasn’t their age and didn’t have their income, experience, etc.
– I don’t belong to a church, and many women I know grow their friend groups from their faith communities
– My husband is as much of an introvert as I am, so we often choose not to go out with other couples (usually one of us stays home to decompress), therefore we don’t have a lot of couples/family friends
– Our house isn’t great for hosting events or dinner parties, so we never invite people over
– As an introvert, I struggle to handle small talk or loud parties so I often choose to say in
– As a busy, working mom, I’m too exhausted to prioritize friendships
– I am embarrassed to ask people to do things together if we’re not already close friends…therefore it’s impossible to make new friends
– I’m a solo entrepreneur, so I don’t have co-workers to hang out with
– I don’t drink, but I often feel silly asking people to hang out for coffee or other activities when most people will get together for happy hours
– I don’t currently attend 12-step or recovery meetings, so I have a difficult time meeting people in recovery

Oh my god, you guys, the list could go on until the end of time. But what it breaks down to is our old friend (pun totally intended) FEAR. Fear of being vulnerable and being rejected. Fear of looking stupid. But mostly, fear of not being enough.

I’m so over being held back by fear! It’s so pointless and the only person it hurts is me. And lately I’ve been encouraged by stories from other women who have been going through the same thing with their own friendships. I know women who have left their faith communities, and found they lost most of their good friends. Others have been dealt a diagnosis or a divorce, and found their friend groups were lost in the shuffle. Others still have moved to new cities or changed jobs, and found themselves without their regular friend community. It’s not just me. It never is!

So in 2018 I’m committing to making friendship a priority in my life. My kids are older and don’t need me every second, my sobriety is solid and all the other excuses I’ve used in the past are just not enough to keep me on the sidelines anymore. I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but I feel like announcing my intentions in a blog post is a good first step! Here’s to a year of friends, connection and shared joy!

Welcome 2018 Goals

Welcome 2018 : Goals, Plans and Social Media

Welcome 2018 Goals

Is anyone else THRILLED to say goodbye to 2017? I have to admit, while last year was full of wonderful, empowering moments for me (lobbying Congress on Capitol Hill, starting a new business and getting my first studio space, helping form a PAC that is hyper-focused on public education and local politics, hosting my first art show to benefit refugees, attending the Women’s March in D.C. to name a few) the overarching theme of the year seemed to be fear and overwhelm, and those are huge triggers for me. I am proud of how many of my friends and family found productive ways to make change and support causes that are important to them in the face of such fear, but all in all, I’m still happy to see 2017 go. Good riddance.

So far, 2018 has felt better, calmer and a bit more hopeful (thank you, Oprah). I have a plethora of goals for the new year in my advocacy and in my business, but I also really want to focus on a few personal goals. I think the biggest theme for this year is to try and live my life with more focus and intention. I know there are certain things that I use to numb out and “relax” that certainly aren’t serving me, and I want to do a better job of cutting those things out of my life. One that comes to mind is social media…how can something that has brought such joy and diversity to my world also be THE WORST THING EVER? When I use social media with intention, I find it to be an amazing tool of connection and creativity. But when I use it to numb out or fill dead time in my day, I feel a bit like I did when I used to drink…tired, depressed and sad. Not because of the content in my feed, necessarily, but because I’m missing out on so much in my real life while I scroll scroll scroll. I keep telling myself I “don’t have time” to do some of the things I really want to do, but when I actually sit down and look at the amount of time I’m spending on social media, I realize I DO have the time, I’m just not prioritizing how I use it.

Welcome 2018 Goals

So for this month (January), I’m doing my best to stay off social media. I can’t quit cold turkey, because I have businesses to run, but I’ve taken everything off my phone except Instagram, which you can’t use from a desktop. Instead, I have logged out of my Instagram account and am only actively logged in to the August Light Studio account. Every couple of days, I log back into my Crazy Bananas account to check direct messages, but I’m not posting, liking, commenting or scrolling. I’m also posting on the August Light and Crazy Bananas Facebook pages (since I don’t have to see my personal Facebook feed to post there, thanks Facebook!). So if you need to reach me, I suggest email as opposed to social media for the time being! Already I have found I have so much more time in the day, and I can do things like write this blog post, balance my budget, read the stack of magazines that’s been sitting by my bed for days and reach out to friends in a more personal way.

I plan on getting more into a few of my other goals for the year in-depth later this month, but the two that are my priorities at the moment are focusing on friendships and becoming a more sustainable shopper, with a goal of not buying any new clothing in 2017. These are both goals that probably deserve their own posts, but you can be sure they are (so far) equal parts challenging and awesome. I am feeling excited and happy about them, instead of dreading how I’m going to make it happen or if I can do it. I think that’s a good sign!

Do you have any 2018 that have you pumped up and ready to go? Let me know in the comments (and maybe not over on social media, since I’m not there at the moment…)!

Travel Diary : Canyon Ranch

A few weeks ago, as we were laying in bed at night, Trent said to me, “What are your plans Thursday through Sunday? I want to take you somewhere for a few days…” To say I was surprised would be a fairly large understatement. As a couple, we had been doing the thing that all middle-aged couples with busy lives/families/jobs do…we’d been taking each other for granted. The situation had left us both feeling emotionally bruised and battered, and honestly, really lonely.

So Trent decided to take action, and he booked us a three night stay at Canyon Ranch in Tuscon, Arizona. Canyon Ranch is basically a wellness camp for adults, and it was EXACTLY what we needed. The best part was that Trent planned the whole thing himself, and wouldn’t give me a hint to where we were going. Eventually, I figured out we were headed to Tuscon (hard to keep a secret when you’re holding a boarding pass!), but even after our flight landed, I still wasn’t sure where in the city we were headed. It wasn’t until our car reached the front gates that I saw where we were.

I actually hadn’t heard of Canyon Ranch before this trip, but it’s pretty popular among wellness and health conscious people as a prime destination. It’s an all-inclusive resort that boasts amazing whole foods, a plethora of exercise and workout opportunities, medical care, spiritual guidance and even metaphysical services. Our activities were all across the spectrum, from yoga to mountain biking through the desert to tarot readings and massages. I meditated in a pool of warm water, received my first craniosacral treatment and hiked a mountain. Trent even got his very first pedicure! We swam and ate delicious food, and in those three days, we worked on rediscovering who we are as a couple. It was wonderful.

I highly recommend Canyon Ranch to anyone looking to get away in an environment where health and wellness are the number one priority. The resort had no alcohol or soda, which was a huge bonus for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a vacation where alcohol wasn’t available and it was really lovely to not have it in front of me all the time. I’m so grateful to Trent for making this trip happen and for finding such an amazing place for us to spend time together!





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