*from social media. It’s long overdue.
Since starting @iliveinbalance in 2018, my Instagram page has been a blend of work and play. At times it feels like the job that never ends — there is no close of day, no going home or end of week. For me, the lines are blurred between being a personal brand, small business, friend and human, with my role changing moment to moment. I love the variety but it also feels deeply destabilising. A visceral feeling in my body and a collection of observations from my mind led me towards my one month holiday.
It Is A Human Need To Feel Seen
Feeling seen drives my desire to use Instagram, as I'm sure it does others. To me, feeling seen is a sense of connection to others, and that others truly understand and embrace you as you are. We can cultivate this experience on Instagram, but it has its flaws. We may experience the comparison trap, where other people's lives appear 'better', 'easier', 'more purposeful' than ours. Or we may put ourselves out there and not receive the response we wanted or needed, leaving us feeling more disconnected than we began.
I think a useful question is, where else do you feel seen? Like a menu of options, if we have multiple opportunities to feel seen, it takes the pressure off each one.
When I sat with this question I realised that right now I feel too seen on social media. I am utterly self-promotion fatigued. I also have the privilege of feeling seen every day in the work that I do, and having personal relationships that can exist offline. As a yoga teacher and mental health worker I work directly with my personality. I am seen in the role of a facilitator and when all goes well, I can help others feel seen too. In my personal relationships, I think it will take a little bit more effort and care, but I'll have the time, and I do care.
We Are Over-Exposed to Content
There is no denying that we are overexposed to content on social media. Through the people we follow and targeted ads, what we see on a daily and weekly basis adds up and influences us over time. One glimpse at a time, it affects the way we feel about ourselves and the way we view the world. It's the bodies and lifestyles we see, the perspectives we hear and the lived experiences we witness that shape our perception of ‘normal’, 'valid' or 'important'.
While reading yet another anti-vax post from a health privileged yoga teacher, I paused and asked, what am I seeing too much of? What am I not seeing? I have muted, unfollowed and diversified my feed. I will continue these strategies when I return, but they don't feel powerful enough for now. Time away from overexposure feels like more time to choose the books I read, the news I consume and the podcasts I listen to.
You Have Permission To Do Whatever You Need To Do
Our mood and mental health influences the way we experience social media. If we feel anxious and open an app, it can feel like life is happening at us. If we feel calm and connected, we may feel in awe at the creativity and resilience of others. If we feel sad, we may be reminded of just how many reasons there are to be sad. Social media can affirm exactly how we feel, exacerbate unhelpful states or for those of us who are more sensitive and do feel deeply, it can guide us down new and unwanted paths.
It's not always easy to know how we feel or what we need. If you observe the way you are experiencing social media, what does it tell you about your mental health? What does it tell you about what you need? There's no right or wrong answer, but maybe there are more options to explore. Give yourself permission to do things differently.
Writing Things Down Helps
If you've every been to a workshop or you know me personally, you are probably aware that I love journaling. I have always felt that things fall into place when we transfer our thoughts to a page. If you would like to check in with yourself and explore where you are putting your time, energy and presence, and how you could do things differently, the worksheet below is a gift from me to you.
Time, Energy, Presence Map Worksheet
Where To From Here
Yoga has always taught me to be interested in life and intentional with my presence. So, I'm curious to experience my life in the absence of social media and I'm excited to shift my focus towards the things that nourish my mental health like reading, running, meditating, cooking and nurturing my relationships. There's no set destination and I'm looking forward to returning with fresh eyes.
Take a holiday if you need it too, and thanks for being here.