I’ve noticed a theme in my blogging over the years. Every few months I talk about trying to find that magical balance between family and work and social media. For years now, my response to the overwhelming anxiety I feel when life is off balance is to shut everything down.
No social media.
Shut it all down.
The problem with this approach is that it doesn’t solve anything. And while taking a sabbatical from social media can be refreshing, it is not sustainable long term. The moment I turn everything back on, the stress and anxiety start to build up again.
So I’m taking a new approach.
This time instead of shutting it all off, I am sitting down and listing all the things on social media that lift me up, and all the things on social media that weigh me down.
Things that lift me up:
- Instagram (especially the new “Stories” feature)
- Facebook groups
- Snapchat (especially trading private snaps with my sister)
Things that weigh me down:
- Twitter feed
- Facebook feed
- Basically all the feeds. Especially when I check them more than once a day.
I have also realized that timing matters. Scrolling through Twitter or Facebook first thing in the morning triggers a stress response that puts me on edge for the rest of the day. Checking social media more than a few times a day (at every stoplight, in line at the grocery store, off and on through every baseball game) distracts me from being fully present in the life of the people around me.
But like I said, that doesn’t mean I need to shut it all down. I have found a rhythm that seems to be working for me.
In the morning, I check for messages and notifications, but I don’t scroll any feeds or watch any stories or snaps. I check social media once in the morning and possibly once in the middle of the day. Nighttime is when I get to sit down and indulge in Instagram stories and Snapchat or scroll through Pinterest and get lost in fashion and recipes. (Instead of deleting these apps, I have actually started following even more inspiring people!)
As far as the feeds go, I still check them once in a while. For Twitter, I make good use of the “Lists” feature so I can directly check in on friends and colleagues and catch up on important news.
This is how I have been approaching Facebook lately too. The private groups I am a part of get most of my attention while I rarely scroll the feed anymore. For friends and pages I don’t want to miss, I make sure to turn notifications on.
This rhythm leaves me feeling filled up and present at the end of the day instead of empty and distracted. And when I am filled up, I have more to give to my kids and my husband. I have already noticed a huge change in how the kids and I relate to each other. When Mama is happy, everyone is happy, right?
So here are three tips to help you find balance in social media:
- Make a list of what social media lifts you up (makes you feel happy and inspired) and what social media weighs you down (leaves you feeling stressed or envious).
- Pay special attention to when you feel anxious or stressed, and see if any of those feelings could be caused by social media.
- Use this information to develop your own rhythm. (And if needed, unfollow any accounts that consistently make you feel bad).
Do more of what makes you happy and less of what drags you down.
Balance is a tricky thing, and no one ever does it perfectly. But this feels like a good first step.