Reclaim your life: 3 solutions to limit social media burnout.
I am a firm believer in boundaries. I would say that setting boundaries have been one of the most liberating yet challenging disciplines in my life.
First things first, I am going to declare something that might be an unpopular opinion.
I don’t really believe social media hiatuses work.
I see people doing them all the time. I have done my fair share of getting off social media for a little bit at a time. But I’ve come to see that taking a break from social media doesn’t really change anything when you re-install the platforms unless you make changes moving forward.
It’s the same reason why so many people want to keep doing Whole30 every year when it wasn’t designed to be that way. Whole30 was created as an elimination diet to figure out what foods are affecting your body and then proceed forward with action steps that will help you eliminate these foods for good.
But a lot of people (including myself) have gotten through 30 days only to go on a bender on the evening of Whole30 and indulge in everything they haven’t been able to have for the last month.
I’ve done this. I’ve had the wine and the pizza and the french fries. And I’ve woken up with the somber feeling that this wasn’t supposed to be how it ended. I was supposed to maintain control, not throw all the results and hard work out the window with the first sight of cheese.
I love Whole30 and it has changed my life in a lot of ways. I would definitely say it was the first step towards food freedom. But it only helps when I take what I’ve learned and then I make tweaks in my life for the long haul.
I think the same goes for a social media hiatus. If you delete all the apps for 40 days, feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and then re-download them ago with no limits or boundaries then the same feelings will flood back. The feeling of insecurity and tiredness. The hours of scrolling. The feeling that everyone is hanging out with you.
In my own journey with social media, there have been two things I’ve done that actually help me. They empower me. They have (as dramatic as it sounds) given me my life and emotions back:
001. LOOK AT THE BIGGER ISSUES
Nothing changes if you don’t look at the bigger issues that social media draws out of your soul.
Are you jealous? Are you angry? Are you hurting?
Are you bored? Are you struggling with laziness? Are you afraid?
What are the real reasons why you scroll and scroll and scroll?
I had to ask myself these questions and it wasn’t easy. I have to keep asking myself these questions. I got into this really weird space months ago where I felt so insecure and I would turn to my phone and social media for validation (we will get into that later). Mind you, it never filled me. It only kept me wanting more. It was like eating potato chips when you're hungry but what you really need is a balanced meal, something that will sustain you.
Social media will never sustain you or keep you from going hungry.
I started carrying all my ugly feelings to God and things in my spirit began changing. It was really beautiful. I started going to God and telling him, “I need wisdom for why I am so angry. I need wisdom for how I can change my mind.” He promises to always give you wisdom but you’re only ready to receive it when you look past the screen at what is really going on.
Until I looked, social media was just a distraction. But a harmful distraction because I was treating it like it could medicate or subdue what was wrong inside of me. It only added to the problem.
002. APPLY LIMITS
I set limits on myself two months ago and I can honestly say it is the big thing I’ve ever thought to do.
Android and Apple both have programs and apps to set social media boundaries. If you can identify the apps you are spending too much time on, then you can apply realistic limits.
This is what I mean about why the all-or-nothing approach doesn’t always work so well. Boundaries, as much as they sound disciplinary, are buffers for your soul. They allow you to experience the joy of something without going overboard.
So I set up Screentime (which is available on Apple phones with the latest update).
The only app I really found myself struggling with was Instagram. I was losing hours to Instagram every week and I knew it needed to change.
Now I operate under a limit. I get 59 minutes a day to do my business, be social, and respond to people. Just under an hour sounds like a lot but the time goes quickly.
At first, I was hitting my limit on 59 minutes and then just typing in my passcode and bypassing the limit. Then I tagged Lane in and I asked him to set the passcode to one I didn’t know. Now, when I hit my limit, I have no choice but to shut down the app because I don’t know the passcode. And there’s no drama or feeling like I NEED TO SCROLL. I simply say, “Okay, that was productive and now it’s done for the day.”
Mind you, I still have days where my habits aren’t so perfect and I waste the 59 minutes scrolling mindlessly instead of engaging but hey, we are working on it and we are making great strides!
003. VALIDATE YOURSELF AND OTHERS OFF THE PLATFORMS
This is a biggie when you get into the brain science behind social media. The platforms we engage on give us a short, fleeting reward. A hit of dopamine. You get affirmation when you post something. When you don’t get as much affirmation as you wanted, you find yourself feeling down or low.
I had to ask myself: am I doing this because it matters that I share or am I looking for validation in all the wrong places? Am I hoping other people will validate my existence?
I kept finding myself in these situations where I wasn’t fully present in the moment and my instinct was to share the moment with others. I had to let people know I was here and doing this. I had to get people’s opinions. I had to live my life out in the town square instead of doing anything behind closed doors because my brain had rewired itself to expect and need the approval of others.
Lately, I am asking God for validation and he always, always answers.
Lately, I am validating myself. I am letting myself sit in the moments and be proud without needing to share with everyone.
Lately, I am taking the time to validate others so they, too, can feel empowered off the platform.
And I’ll tell you what— it’s working. It’s really working. It took a few weeks to work myself out of the funk of needing approval but I’ve had more quiet, joy-filled moments in the last few months than I’ve had in years. And that’s proof that something is really working.
I have so much more to say on this topic, and I honestly don’t know how much longer we can go on, but I would love to hear from you: What works and what doesn’t work for you when it comes to setting up boundaries? What are some of the problems you’re encountering in your own journey? I always want to hear from you in the comments!