By Josephine Belliveau
Are you the type of person who is all work and no play, and a part of you feels like you should prioritize your well-being? In this day and age, many aspects of our life take place on a phone screen. Everyone has the opportunity to project themselves through the media. While it is an easily accessible way to stay connected to loved ones and even take inspiration from people you don’t know, it’s easier for lines to blur between the two perspectives of social media and real life. When you’re only seeing the best parts of everyone’s lives, it puts pressure on us to do more and try to measure up to the perfect standard we see all around us. Springtime is an opportunity to renew ourselves by getting away from the screen, and one of the best ways to do this is to take a social media break.
Ways to create balance
You may not even notice when you start to burn out while chasing the idea that hard work can make reality social-media-perfect. It’s already hard enough to balance work, school, family, friends and a pandemic. It’s overwhelming to even imagine perfectly balancing all of those parts of our lives, nor is it possible to do it all perfectly. Balance comes with realizing that perfection is not a priority; perfection is merely an idea that lives in the back of our heads, distracting us from the things that really matter.
Learning to prioritize things that make you happy as well as the tasks you need to complete is overwhelming. Making use of a planner can save you the stress of constantly having to weigh your schedule. Seeing a list of everything you have planned on paper can change your perspective. After a busy week of work or school, you can see your relaxing weekend plans and have something to look forward to. Add written reminders, in your planner or above your desk, to celebrate your hard work and take breaks when needed.
People underestimate how important it is to take a moment and remind yourself that you’re doing enough, and you deserve a break from juggling the weight on your shoulders. We’ve all worked hard this year, and now that spring has sprung it’s the perfect time to give yourself the gift of taking care of you.
Take a social media break
It has been proven that working too long without taking breaks can make you less productive and focused. Charlotte Fritz PhD, an associate professor in psychology at Portland State University says, “Taking regular breaks helps us to be more resilient when stressors arise, and they function as an intervention to help us deal with the daily grind.” Paired with the tendency that people forget to take breaks, social media can also give us a false sense of relaxation or a break during our work day. Instead of taking a break via going on social media, try to get up and be active (even if that’s simply walking around the room!). Taking breaks from screens in general can help us focus on what we need in the moment and how to care for ourselves.
Mental health is investing in yourself
Investing in personal time is vital to mental health. If you spend all day at work or school just to come home to chores and homework, you don’t have time to catch your breath. Overworking yourself may seem like the most productive thing to do in the moment, but can lead to you becoming irritable and unmotivated. If you stay up late to complete your lengthy to-do list, you’ll be too tired to do tomorrow’s tasks.
Sometimes you have to do the most productive thing for yourself instead of the easiest one. You will rewardingly feel better and more recharged afterwards. Instead of winding down with screen time, use the few free moments you get towards reading or going on a walk or other hobbies you enjoy. Ideally if you are able to spend time outside, it can be more helpful than you think, some pediatricians even write prescriptions for it. It’s important to invest in yourself and break away from the constant scroll of social media. According to Chester County Hospital, studies have shown that 7 in 10 Americans use social media everyday. People who use social media for extended periods of time are more likely to be stressed than people who are not. If you are someone who has limited free time to wind down, only using social media during that time may not help you relax at all.
Now more than ever, it is harder to destress when so many people have been forced to break away from their normal routine. The Pew Research Center says that 71% of workers are now doing their job from home since the pandemic. If you are one of those many people, every task may seem to blend into the next. Our outside responsibilities are mixed with our home life. When those two things are not separate, it can be harder to relax.
Instead of spending the whole day at your desk, take the time to eat lunch somewhere else. Whether it’s in your kitchen or on your porch. Having a moment to think about non-work related topics and enjoy yourself can make you more productive afterwards. The need for self care becomes evident when it’s so difficult to separate work from your personal life. Focusing on removing yourself from work-related areas can help you destress. Set a time that you promise yourself to turn off work for the day, which includes checking your work email. This disconnection can implement a healthy work and home life balance, leading to less stress in both settings.
You can do it!
We have the opportunity to tune in with ourselves and reach a higher level of care through taking breaks, turning off social media, and separating our work life from our personal life. These tips can also be reflected in the holiday bustle. Before you reach to scroll through social media, see if you can incorporate any of these tips to further your self care and generally be more relaxed.