Unplugged: How to Stay Present in the Era of Social Media
Like many millennials, I can shamefully admit that my phone is glued to my hands 24/7. My phone is always with me at work, at church and when I’m out clubbing on the weekends. It’s even there when I lay my head down at night to go to sleep!
I use my phone to check social media as a means to escape my reality for mere seconds or long periods of time during the day. Opening up any of the six networking apps in my designated “Social” folder on my iPhone is somewhat therapeutic to me. I use Instagram, Twitter, GroupMe, Facebook, Snapchat, and the Messenger app religiously!
I really struggle with the concept of unplugging from social media, work emails and the constant need to respond to every text message in 0.5 seconds. Erasing notifications from my phone becomes like a sick game of Whack-a-Mole to me. Having a mindset like mine can become tiresome over time due to the constant need to know what’s happening around me.
But, how does one unplug and let the mind rest? How can we quell the need to know extemporaneous things going on in pop culture, the world abroad AND our own backyard?
It’s not easy for someone like me that thrives on news. I received a degree in the field of journalism, so although I’m not working directly in a newsroom or at a tv station, I’m always anxious to see what’s going on in the world!
But, I’ve realized something has got to give. That’s why I’d like to provide advice on ways to unplug from social media, and instead look for other ways to explore the world around us.
You don’t have to necessarily put the phone down, but trying other avenues outside of social media can be very helpful for our mind, body and soul.
Below are a few ways on how to “unplug”:
Apart from keeping your body in it’s best shape, exercising is a great way to relieve stress and unplug from the environment around you. I have a gym membership with Planet Fitness and there’s also a gym in my apartment complex. If I don’t feel like trekking 7 miles to the nearest Planet Fitness, I can always walk or drive my car up to my apartment’s gym.
For those who aren’t fond of the gym or using equipment, you can do yoga or go for a jog in your neighborhood. It’s easy to get in a mile or two just by walking to and from a destination of your choice. There are also apps you can download to your smartphone such as Workout Trainer and the Nike Run App. I use both frequently myself.
Exercising and taking up healthy eating habits like juicing or meal prepping can go a long way for a more positive state of body and mind. Try a new type of workout, explore a different gym, go to a group fitness class or pickup a popular diet like Keto. Whatever you choose, it’ll be a great way to unplug from your phone.
Read a book
Expanding your knowledge by reading books or scholarly materials is also one of the ways that I like to unplug. I’ve always been an avid reader, so setting aside time to pick up a book is not a difficult task. I’m currently reading “The Art of Happiness” and it’s a great read that focuses on self-reflection.
If you’re not big on reading physical books, audiobooks have become very popular within the past few years. You can download Audible on your smartphone or your tablet and listen to someone make words come alive on the page. The Kindle app is another popular reading app.
Getting lost in a tale of fiction, a story of truth or an anthology of beautiful poetry can be truly soothing. The wisdom you glean from books, as well as the world, can help shape the way you see things. Unplugging in this way will hopefully help you gain different perspectives.
Pray or meditate
Being still and letting your mind wander, either into a space of emptiness or into a place of colors, is what meditation is all about. Praying to a Higher Power is also how many people can hone in the ability of introspection or self-reflection. If you’re a spiritual person, opening your Bible or a devotional is a great way to “unplug”. It can help you grow closer to your purpose and it can also be calming.
A few apps that I have on my phone are the Bible App, Calm and Headspace. The Bible app allows you to read the Bible in different versions digitally. You can also open up a catalog of devotionals within the app. The Headspace app allots time for users to sit still daily, to perfect their breathing and to just let go.
Meet up with friends
If you’re like me and don’t like to be alone for long spans of time during the week, you can call up a friend or five to meet up! Scheduling outings with friends is a great way to unplug and de-stress. Meeting up over Happy Hour or a mutually fun activity can be a breath of fresh air.
There will always be free and inexpensive things to do in your town or city. The experience is all about exploring new possibilities with people you share a mutual respect and love for. Talking and texting can be exhausting, but having in-person interactions can be more effective because you can share authentic feelings and emotions with one another.
Good friends are supposed to be a safe space for you to be your true self, your best self. Try putting the phones down when you’re in the company of someone you don’t see too often.
Set limits to your daily phone usage
This is the last resort for me. If I just can’t seem to give my social media apps a break, I will set limits to their usage. If you’re an iOS user, you now have the option to turn on the Screen Time app, which details the amount of time you spend on your phone and how you spend that time. Talk about receipts!
In just one week I spent about 27 hours on social networking applications alone. That’s crazy! An app called Screen Time lets you schedule time away from the screen with Downtime, set limits for certain apps and create privacy restrictions. But, don’t fret Android users! Google has a similar app called Digital Wellbeing.
It’s not easy practicing what you preach, but setting aside downtime from social media can definitely improve your state of living. Sometimes the things we encounter online can be so far from our own reality, that it causes us stress. So one way to practice self-care is giving social media a break and being more present in your surroundings. There are so many options to unplug and practice self-care. But if you’re having trouble picking one that works for you, I hope some of these ideas will be helpful in your journey!
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