Social media has now become an important means of connection for many of us but it can also be a source of anxiety and overwhelm, no matter how psychologically intact you feel you are (have you seen the Social Dilemma on Netflix?). I’ve become increasingly aware of the amount of time I’ve been mindlessly scrolling through Instagram lately. I decided to temporarily delete all my social media apps across all of my devices two weeks ago for a two week break. In the first day alone, I took out my very neglected art box, gathered a bunch of forsythia, helleborus and rosemary from the garden, photographed them, drew them and created a lino block. I have been dreaming about doing this activity again since I last made my first lino block print in 1993. I was just as consumed by the task and found it just as relaxing as I did when I was in school as a student.
I had bought into the concept of having to be active regularly on social media in order to promote yoga classes. It felt like a luxury not to be bothered with it for two weeks. Now I see it like, isn’t this the way it should be on our days off, playing and having fun with what is real and in front of us? Although I had already put together a set of unofficial ‘rules’ for being online, the experiment taught me that I had a little refining to do. I’ve gathered together five points of how to stay sane on social media for yoga teachers and everyone else. It’s a great medium but it needs to be managed, consciously.
My Top 5 Tips for Staying Sane on Social:
- Energy is a currency. Know the cost. Only open an email or WhatsApp message when you are in the frame of mind to answer it. You’ll know how much energy it will take to answer by who it’s from. Ask yourself, am I in a position to reply from a positive energetic mindset or am I frazzled and better off waiting to open the message when I’m sitting down with a cup of tea. One of the yamas in the eight limbs of yoga is Brahmaharya which loosely translates as “celibacy” or “right use of energy”. A subject for a post of it’s own!
- Practice the pause. Before you open up Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, ask yourself, ‘why am I here?’. If you can answer honestly (a) boredom or tiredness, (b) loneliness, (c) entertainment, (d) research or (e) to keep in touch with friends, you’re logging in from a stronger position. Taking the time to pause and ask yourself why will help you identify if you are scrolling for the right reason. For example, if you are anxious and lonely, the chances are social media will cause your mood to worsen. You might be better served to call a friend, the old fashioned way, unannounced on the telephone. What’s the worst thing he or she might say? If you’re tired, set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes and give yourself a Savasana.
- Set a timer. There are two scenarios here. The first is when you are creating a post. I’ve had the experience of labouring over a post for hours, only to feel magnetised from bending over the screen and practically flinging the phone (and the post) away. I’ve found out the hard way that if I can’t type it out and post what I want to say in ten minutes or less, I’m wasting my time (and probably other people’s time too). (Blog are different though!). What is a reasonable amount of time for you to be scrolling for entertainment?
- Scroll with pen and paper. In my experience this is the best way to be on social media when I am also in business mode during the day. Have a pen in your hand and recycle an old envelope. For example, I might log onto Twitter to check out home economics subject updates on the JCT or other sites. Taking unedited private notes of words and phrases which pop into your mind as you scroll through will help you identify how your “session” has affected your mood and it will keep you on track. Glance at your list and ask yourself, is this worth my while? If not, weed your feed!
- Boundaries. Take days off. Turn off notifications and plug your phone in as far away from your bedroom as you can hear your alarm clock in the morning time. The first check of your phone in the day might become a habit attached to a positive action, e.g. after I do 5 minutes of yoga, have a shower, make my bed and eat my breakfast, then I can check my phone, but only for five minutes. From experience, I think it’s reasonable not to check your phone at all until lunchtime. The morning is the most clear headed time of the day. Saviour it for the important stuff. (To know more, Goggle DR BJ Fogg and his community led Tiny Habits program. This course helps you to create small achievable habits a little step at a time for free.)
In conclusion, we strongly need to re-evaluate and to discuss our relationship with the entertaining but often exhausting medium of social media, especially on our days of rest, when we’d be better off being creative, playing and having fun. And doing yoga off course.
The next series of Wednesday evening yoga classes will have a philosophical emphasis. The introduction to the eight limbs of yoga will run over the course of eight weeks from Wednesday 14th April to Wednesday 2nd June. Book now for early bird rate.