What To Do With Your Time, Without Being On Social Media
Never did I think I'd write a blog post about what to do with your time...without being on social media. But it's 2018. And here we are.
Before we begin, I am in no way telling you to delete the Instagram app, remove your Facebook profile, forget Twitter, banish Youtube from your search history, and chuck your cell phone out the window. Unless any of those call to you, of course. In all reality, that's not what this is about. Instead, this is about how to create mindful habits when it comes to time spent on social media.
The Instagram rabbit hole is real. The New York Times wrote about it back in 2013. And other authors powerfully speak to our compulsive desire to constantly check social media. In fact, we're now spending enough time on social media to warrant social media anxiety disorder.
The obsession is real. And feeling anxious, depressed, and sleep-deprived are all common side effects of social media's tug (or should I say, drug).
With all of that in mind, how can you create realistic boundaries around it? How can you loosen your tightly wound, social media-induced grip? For starters, let's talk about FOMO. Because FOMO is one of the reasons you probably can't let go. FOMO, as you know, is the fear of missing out — missing out on a party, an event, a concert, or some other social experience. What if we thought about this in regards to social media, though? For the sake of this conversation, let's call it FOMC: fear of missing content. As in, missing out on content. Basically, we're akin to FOMC because we're obsessively glued to social media. If we don't watch every video, see every post, or scroll until we can't scroll anymore, we worry we're missing out.
Before you tell me I'm painting social media in a terrible light, hear me out. Without it, I wouldn't have my health coaching clients. I wouldn't have met wonderful and inspiring women. I wouldn't have found uplifting and educational podcasts and books. I wouldn't have found a universal way to share my beliefs about wellness and to bravely speak my truth (to strangers). I wouldn't have connected with like-minded brands and businesses making a difference. In that sense, there is so much good that can come from social media — awareness, connection (yes, genuine connection), and joy (yes, authentic joy). For that matter, I wouldn't have met my husband if it weren't for social media.
All of that said, platforms like Instagram can be a total time suck. For many of us, Instagram is the first app we click on when we wake up and it's the last app we check before bed. When we seek distraction from work, we click on it. When we're waiting for our take-out order to arrive, we scroll through it. When we don't know what to do with our time on a Sunday afternoon, we open it. But just for kicks, let's jump back a decade or two.
What did you do with your time before social media? Like, back in the days when Blockbuster was making billions, you knew your friends' home phone numbers by heart, and dial-up Internet was the latest and greatest?
Personally, I was hardly in front of technology. But that's how my parents raised us. I was either playing with friends, at soccer / basketball / swimming practice, biking to get ice cream, reading, burning CDs (read: creating playlists), climbing trees, playing the piano, or singing in church choir. Among other things, there really wasn't much time for me to figure out WHAT to do with my time. And I certainly never gravitated toward my flip-phone. I often tell people that I'm so glad I didn't grow up in a time when social media existed. Which is even more of an incentive to educate future generations on responsibly consuming technology. But I digress.
When it comes to mindfully absorbing social media content, I have a few tips + tricks. They're suggestions, really. Things I've recently started doing and are working for me. If any of these resonate with you, leave me a comment, slide into my DMs, or email me. Or don't. Because I'd rather you spend less time typing and more time eating ice cream, watering your plants, or playing fetch with your dog.
How to fill your time / how to use social media mindfully:
Turn OFF notifications. This is a v important one. No need for your smart phone to light up every time someone likes a photo, sends you a DM, etc.
Get in the habit of turning your phone on airplane mode. Especially during mealtimes.
Take inventory. Are you following people / brands who inspire, motivate, and think differently than you? Or are you following people who make you question your self-worth and lower your self-esteem?
Set a social media curfew. When 6, 7, or 8pm rolls around, reach for a book. This might take some effort at first. But remind yourself that you're creating a healthy habit. And establishing a new habit takes work. I believe in you!
Speaking of books, these stats are mind-boggling. Here are a few books on my reading list (some I've read, some I haven't yet): Heart Talk, The Emotionally Healthy Woman, The Universe Has Your Back, Period Repair Manual, WomanCode, Body Wisdom, Letting Go of Leo, and The Wellness Project.
Buy an adult coloring book. They're therapeutic and playful in the best kind of way.
Delete your go-to social media app (or apps) for 12-24 hours. If you feel anxious at first, it will subside. You aren't missing anything life-changing. I promise.
TAKE A NAP (if possible).
Take yourself on a date. Grab your book and head to a coffee shop you've been wanting to try.
Take someone else on a date. Go get some ice cream.
Research free yoga classes in your city and text a friend to meet you.
If you have a botanic garden close to you, go!
If you have a farm close to you, go! There are plenty of places to pick berries this time of year.
Use this journal in the morning and at night.
Spring (err, summer) clean. Get rid of stuff you don't need. Donate. Recycle. Etc.
Go for a walk, a hike, or head to the beach. Again, bring your book.
Try a guided meditation.
Call your _____ (mom, dad, sibling, grandma, etc.).
Educate yourself on something you've been wanting to learn. Maybe you want to know how to use less plastic. Maybe you want to learn a new language. The world is your oyster.
Brew homemade kombucha.
Print out photos and create a photo album (old-school style).
That's all I have today, friends. Now go on and get living. :)