Instructions for the Social Media-ist: Unplug and Recharge As Needed

I was going to write about graphic design this month. That was before April kicked my butt.

The month kicked off with a waaaay overdue vacation with my sister, who I hadn’t seen in almost 3 years. I crammed that in right before a fast paced and data heavy GSMCON. Then, a post-conference sickness that sucked the life out of me. Followed by a few half-days recovering while simultaneously trying to catch the barrelin’ freight train of workload at City Hall. All that, compounded by home front chaos, car troubles, a pinched nerve induced migraine…and the lack of a science lab and the knowledge to clone myself.

You get the picture. We’ve all been there. It wasn’t until around Easter, that the cycle of my days started to really register.

Get up…check cell phone for any overnight text messages/notifications. Shower. Blow dry hair while skimming Twitter’s trending. Sigh of relief when there’s not another bombing/shooting/natural disaster. Instead just a pregnant Blake Lively in an amazing Pikachu-yellow dress. (I can’t even!) Tell Alexa to tune in to NPR while getting ready. Grab a protein shake my husband made, say “Goodbye, love you. And don’t forget you need to take Katie to the orthodontist at 4pm.” Jump in the car to finish listening to the latest “Social Pros” podcast and drive to work. Log in…and…well, we all know how the day goes from there.

And even after work, after the grocery store, after homework, after dinner, after bedtime…you find yourself on your phone/tablet/laptop catching up with any lingering email responses, social media chats with our favorite gov peers, personal emails, news and…and…and.

OR do you just take the avoidance nosedive into Pinterest to pin things you’ll never bake, build, write, sew, organize, buy, plant, paint, or…even travel to.

Needless to say, the laptop found a new home right at the end of my dining room table throughout April and sliding into May.

Full disclosure…I LOVE my job. I have the most amazing co-workers. My left and right sides of my brain are satisfied, challenged and grow every day. Sometimes too much so. Our supportive manager is the first one to say, “That’s it. Time to go home. It will be here tomorrow.” And she means it.

But. But.
Like many of us, our work ethic, or rather the voice in our head says, “There’s more to do. More to read. More people to connect with. More skills to learn. More changes with algorithms we need to prepare for.”

I HAD TO make it stop. I knew I was a bit past creeping exhaustion.

Ironically, all the signs were being delivered in my social media feed.

“Find time to take care of you, boo.”

On Instagram, Dionne Waugh ran…and keeps running…to keep balance.

Social media post with woman running down road in a race with other individuals.

On Twitter, Nicole Nolen stuck to her commitment and said after my #GSMCHAT call out, “Nope, I’m on vacation.”

Social media post of two women talking about making time for self care.

Mark Van Baale sought out a place with no wi-fi in Arkansas to disconnect.

On Linkedin, Jessie Brown took Sundays for “social self care.”

And me, well…I had too many signs about meditation.

I couldn’t deny the Ted Talks and seven-minute reads on Medium, Smart Brief and The Muse serving up the signs too. One night, my self-inflicted ADD brought me to this blog post on meditation. I downloaded the app and decided to give it a try the next day.

Mind you, I’m not sitting in some labyrinth-styled garden with wild jasmine.

I’m not sitting in an extra bedroom painted cool teal and adorned with buddha statues, candles and incense.

I’m sitting on my bathroom floor, on a well-worn bath rug armed with the app on my cell phone and earbuds. No incense. Just the dust bunnies on my bathroom floor. (Close your eyes, Mary.)

Sometimes I get up about 20 minutes earlier. I’ll do it in my car at lunchtime or before I go to bed at night. (Ok, sometimes I’m IN bed.) At the end of 15 minutes, I hear the sound of the app’s bowl chime, and to my amazement, I feel this weight of pressure L-I-F-T. I have to admit, it’s kinda cool.

While I’m still a newbie, within days, it was apparent. Meditation helped add a bit calm into my day. The other day, I found myself instinctually doing deep belly breathing in a stressful moment.

Now, meditation isn’t a cure-all, and it may not be for you. However, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed with the onslaught of messages, notifications, emails, rabbit-hole links, and “11 Ways to Elevate Your Instagram Stories,” then maybe you need to insert an outlet in your routine.

Find time to recharge. Look for some self-care solutions that work for you. Schedule some disconnect time, instead of scheduling posts. “Y-O-U, take care of you, boo.”

I’ll write about graphic design next go around. I think we probably needed this more. 😊

Social Self-Care Blog Series

And…building on the topic of “self-care”, stay tuned for a fantastic new blog series from GSMO member Jessie Brown, social media coordinator for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Jessie is going to share tools and strategies to help you recognize and successfully cope with common causes of daily stress in our social media profession. And still love what we do!


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