We asked Vegan Social Media Activist & Aerial Performer Casey Rider to share her top tips for achieving a stress-free balance of the online world, with the real one.
It is evidently clear that social media has become an integral part of our lives and for some, updating their Instagram followers with their latest “Free Range Avo’ atop Fermented Toast” creation is just as important as eating a healthy meal or drinking enough water throughout the day.
Being totally present when the whole world is being narrated by Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp can feel impossible! Isn’t it crazy to think that in just the last few years, people will now experience utter panic if they leave their phone at home for just a few hours!
For some, the desire for constant distraction and validation, has become a form of drug addiction (with many Rehab Clinics around the world now offering technology addiction programs).
Is social media really just online heroin?
A recent report has shown that people spend an average of 24 hours a week, or 1 full day in every 7, online. (Ofcom, 2018)
A full 24 hours of selfies, liking, commenting and longing over the perfect life that our favourite social media stars would have us lust over. How can it be healthy to spend so long distracted by a fantasy, than being mindful and staying in the present reality?
Research has shown how mindfulness can help relieve stress, disease, lower blood pressure and ultimately is the secret to happiness. (Gilbert & Killingsworth, 2010)
However, the benefits of social media cannot be ignored and to live a life that is completely sheltered from the online world, to me, seems unrealistic.
As with everything in life, (other than meat and dairy, obviously), moderation is key and finding practical tactics to balance your social media and offline life, arguably, is vital for a meaningful existence in 2019.
Here are my top tips for balancing the online world with the real one!
1) Use Portion Control With Social Media
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to go cold Turkey, but to start reducing the total time spend on social media until you’re getting “just enough”. If I wanted to lean up for a photoshoot, it’s the exact same way I would slowly reduce my calorie intake without removing my favourite foods all together!
Now this may seem like an obvious suggestion, but it is amazing how much time we can aimlessly waste scrolling through Instagram’s Discover feed!
Give yourself a set time limit and stick to it! For example, with responding to comments and mentions, I to limit myself to about 30 minutes a day. Like many people reading this, my online identity and following is part of my income, however it’s too easy to get pulled into activities that don’t have any real ROI!
I understand people running a business can feel the need to be plugged-in 24/7, however I found that with a few really simple tools (also really affordable) combined together, you can automate much of the work and free up your valuable time!
- I like Buffer for scheduling my posts ahead of time in bulk and keeping my content frequency consistent
- Gumroad handles all of my digital product payments and delivery, and also allows me to setup automated emails packed with FAQs and useful info for people who buy one of my products or download one of my free eBooks
- Mention allows me to respond to only the most important conversations that I should be involved with
By investing just a small amount of money each month and spending just a few focussed hours working one day a week, I managed to claim back hours every day and still have constantly active social media accounts!
Time is precious.
2) Give mindfulness a try
How can you possibly be mindful when your brain is trying to process all the images of food, training, funny animals, beauty products, big bootys etc. It’s just too much information for your poor brain to absorb and process all at once. Studies have shown that being mindful increases overall happiness. Mindfulness helps to shift your thoughts from the usual preoccupations of life to an appreciation of the present moment, and has been shown to rapidly increase wellbeing.
For me personally I am an active fidget bum so the idea of sitting perfectly still and focusing purely on my breath would drive me insane. Instead I like to be mindful with my body. Picking up an item of choice around me and really focusing in on that object. Touching it, feeling it, examining every detail of the object. The bonus of doing this exercise is you can literally do it anywhere!
I like to have a few sprays of my Nordic Botanics CBD oil before doing any type of mindfulness activity as it calms my brain and body into a relaxed state, and I find I can drift into focussed thought much easier.
Just taking a few minutes a day to do this not only distracts you from social media but gives you an opportunity to be completely present. Ommmm!
3) Disable notifications on your phone
I have the attention span of a fly, so I try to make sure all possible distractions are reduced. Disabling your notifications is such an easy and simple thing to do but it I find it really works for me.
I have disabled my Instagram and Facebook notifications on my phone, so I am not constantly getting distracted by it when I am at work or trying to achieve Flow. Now, I use social media on my schedule!
We live in such a society of instant fixes and instant messages but just remember the world isn’t going to crumble if you don’t reply to a DM within half an hour.
4) Buy yourself an alarm clock
I could lie and pretend I’m this inspirational morning riser, but the truth is that setting my alarm clock on a Sunday evening literally makes my heart sink!
I am not a morning person, but we all have commitments and a woman can’t build an empire with her eyes closed! An alarm is essential for me, and like most people I used to use the alarm clock on my iPhone. But of course, then that’s another 30 minutes of checking through your Instagram feed and laughing at the Reddit front page.
So I took it back old school and bought an analogue, wind-up alarm clock.
Yes, that’s right, an old fashioned, basic alarm clock. The one that has only two functions. To tell you the time and to get your butt out of bed in the morning. Turn your phone off before you go to bed and set that beautiful old-fashioned machine called an alarm clock!
You will reduce the time spent on social media plus you won’t be woken up by @HunkyHunk2323 from Iowa sliding into the DM’s at 4am with “Whatup baby, can I see feet?”
You can thank me in the morning.
5) Make time for real life interactions & give them your 100% focus
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a couple on a date sitting opposite and enjoying a beautiful meal…. while they’re both on their phones!
I could say it’s sad because us girls would say we want to feel like a man is 10,000% focussed on US on the date, we want to feel special! But we are just as bad if not worse!
‘Online communication is thriving, so why do we live in such a lonely society?’
Social media has caused us human beings to have fewer face to face interactions with each other, with people tending to interact online rather than in person. This is great for people who are shy or may experience social anxiety but there is still nothing better than having a real life, face to face connection with another human being.
‘How can you truly show your friend you’re actively listening to them if your fiddling around with filters?’
So, my tip to reduce social media (and potentially save friendships) is to make time for real life, face to face conversations with other people. This can be your mum, your dad, friends or just the guy who put the fancy pattern on your latte!
Put your phone in your pocket and remind yourself how much more you can get from a conversation with someone in real life!
6) Find something you’re passionate about that doesn’t require your phone
Have you ever done something that you feel so passionate about? An activity that takes all your focus away from the day to day world and allows you to emerge yourself in it completely. Find that and do it more!
For me it is training at the gym or playing on my aerial silks. It is a time that I am completely present. I do not think about anything else other than what I am doing, let alone worry about how many likes my last photo got.
Find something you love doing whether it be a sport, something creative or cooking and put your phone down!!!