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The Power of Social (Media) Distancing

“Less social media, more everything else.” ~Unknown

It’s been a long time since I’ve engaged personally on social media. A while back I made the conscious choice to stop scrolling online and start focusing my time IRL. I was shocked when I did the math. Scrolling for just twenty minutes a day adds up to fifty days over ten years.

As a busy mom of six, my time is precious, and I don’t want to spend my minutes, hours, days, and years getting sucked into the social media vortex.

I admit, however, that social distancing has me wanting to reach for my phone and scroll as a distraction, to see “what’s going on” (even though nobody is really going anywhere) or to feel connected.

So far, I haven’t been pulled back in, other than reading a few specific posts (you know the ones that pop into your inbox… see so and so’s latest!).

Everyone is looking to feel connected during this uncertain and surreal time, and there’s nothing wrong with using social media to stay in touch with friends and family and keep up with the latest news.

But even during a pandemic, we can fall into the usual social media traps—comparing ourselves to others and feeling depressed as a result. And then there’s the stress of overwhelming yourself with a full feed of coronavirus articles—some of them not even accurate.

If you find yourself wanting to scroll more, keep these five tips in mind for a more purposeful experience.

1. Do some spring cleaning.

Having time and space away from the hustle bustle and usual noise of our busy lives can make decluttering easier. Use this space to decide who you really want to spend time with online. Channel your inner Marie Kondo and get rid of anyone or anything that doesn’t spark joy.

I would also suggest unfollowing any brands, groups, or product lines that aren’t body image positive. Research shows that constantly looking at images of people that who happen to be smaller than you, will negatively affect your body image.

It’s normal to compare and despair, which is why I focus on friends and family members that love me unconditionally and brands or products I love and that promote an inclusive self-image.

You might also want to consider unfollowing any pages that frequently share fear-mongering articles or content that frequently draws negative, hateful comments.

2. Remind yourself that everyone suffers.

Even amid a global pandemic, some people seem to have perfect lives—like the celebrities “sheltering at home” in luxury, seemingly immune to the pain and struggle many of us are facing.

But the reality is, there’s not one person in the world who has a perfect life. Even if their Instagram feed is filled with happy moments, they’ve had other moments, days, months, or even years that were filled with struggle.

Think about the people you know; there isn’t one person who hasn’t experienced some form of suffering. This goes back to tip #1: You might want to consider unfollowing anyone who only posts their highlight reel. It’s refreshing to engage with and follow people who show all sides of their reality!

3. Get curious.

When your brain tells you to pick up your phone, get curious about what you really want at this moment. Extra time indoors can make you feel a little crazy. Ask yourself, what am I thinking or feeling as I reach for my phone? Am I bored, anxious, tired, or scared?

Being able to both sit with these uncomfortable feelings and address them will help them pass much more quickly than trying to bury them with a mindless scan of your feed.

Maybe you really need some fresh air, a break from your work, a snack, a new game to play with your kids, or a FaceTime session with a friend.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing to scroll, but be honest with yourself about whether time on your phone can actually fulfill what you truly desire.

4. Set a time limit.

Set a timer for the amount of time you’re willing to spend on your feed. You can even use one of these apps to block social media for the rest of the day.

If you notice you’re checking your feed to avoid a difficult project or task, try using the pomodoro method to complete both small and large tasks.

And if you’re out of work and have a lot of time to fill in your day, consider creating a daily routine so you’re not aimless and antsy—perhaps with time for exercise, time for meditation, time for reading, time for creativity. This way, your days at home can actually enrich you instead of leaving you feeling drained and depleted.

5. Believe that you’re good enough.

No matter what you see in your feed, know that you’re 100 percent lovable, worthy, and supported. Never has there been a time when so many people have been dealing with the same set of circumstances. Instead of using this time to compare yourself to how other people are handling their self-quarantine time, look for connection, kindness, ideas, inspiration, and humor.

This extra time at home might be the perfect time to slow down, stop doing selfies, put your phone down, and practice some social media distancing, too. After all, what would you do with fifty extra days over the next ten years?

About Andrea Dow

Andrea Dow is a certified life coach and a certified yoga and pilates instructor. As an anti-diet and body image coach rooted in Health at Every Size (HAES) and Intuitive Eating principles, she specializes in helping moms find peace with their bodies and stop obsessing about their food. She is passionate about joyful movement and creator of her online yoga program. Andrea currently lives in Boston with her husband and their six children. www.andreadow.com.

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