I feel like at the start of every winter, as the days get shorter and colder, I snuggle into a kind of “hibernation” mode. It feels natural to want to disconnect more from social media and move inwards. I was also thinking maybe you get this feeling too. What perfect timing for the challenge I have planned! It’s a week long Instagram challenge (November 6 – 12) on my personal account @ameliakyoga aimed at offering some powerful and effective ways we can enhance our wellness, creativity, productivity and relationships (to self and other) through healthy social media boundaries.
Everyone’s lifestyles are different, and while a full-on social media detox can be effective, this challenge will offer some ways you can examine and adjust your media usage to better serve your well-being and your goals. I hope to create a community and support meaningful conversations around this topic, so we’ll be using the hashtag #MindfulMediaChallenge . There won’t be official posting rules or prizes, but each day I’ll encourage you to reflect on how your day went and to interact (mindfully) with others doing the challenge too!
#MindfulMediaChallenge Day 1: Turn off
In this smartphone era, it is so easy to always feel like your are ON. If beeps, buzzing, dings, and rings are always pulling our attention in various directions, it’s no wonder we start and end our days feeling overwhelmed. So for the first day of the challenge, I want you to schedule set times when you will be ON, and the remainder of the time you will be OFF.
Today’s #MindfulMediaChallenge task:
- Turn off all notifications on your phone, or at least the ones that pop up frequently, distract you from the present moment you are in, or cause you to jump from task to task
- Depending on your lifestyle, career and what is feasible for YOU, schedule 1-3 30 minute intervals per day were you will post on social media and/or interact with your community. Set a timer and turn off the app(s) after 30 minutes.
- DO NOT SCROLL. Just don’t. We all know where we end up down that rabbit hole. Pick a few accounts that truly uplift and inspire you, or who you feel a deep need to be connected with, and go check in on those.
- Take note of how you feel after each 30 minute social media session. Do you feel better, the same, worse? What could you change or eliminate to make it a more positive experience?
- Important side note: If you receive emails on your phone, turn off all email notifications as well. DO NOT READ OR ANSWER EMAILS ON YOUR PHONE. This one took me a long time to implement, and I’m still guilty at times. But what if it’s urgent? If it’s that urgent, they will call you. Schedule 1-3 email sessions a day where you sit down at a computer and blast through ALL your emails. I recommend setting up an auto-responder so that people contacting you know when they can expect a reply. Never open an email more than once (unless you absolutely have to).
I know, I know — but what about all the precious time waiting in line, sitting on a bus, or walking your dog that you could use to be “productive”? Take my word on this: being attached to your phone is never productive. How many times have you started answering an email but gotten distracted and forgot to hit “send”? How much faster can you type and respond when you sit down at your computer and batch work emails or power through your Facebook messages? And most importantly, how many creative thoughts and ideas are you missing out on by filling those little gaps of time with “productivity”?
As studies are now finding, boredom breeds brilliance (Listen to this TedTalk with Manoush Zomorodi). Being bored ignites a network in our brain called the “Default Mode”, where we start daydreaming and tapping into the the subconscious, and are able to connect very separate ideas to problem solve and come up up with answers to our biggest questions. You cannot be constantly filling your mind and expect to come up with creative ideas or think outside the box. Get comfortable with a bit of boredom and you might be surprised by what you find!
Can’t quit the scrolling? If you want, you can go ahead and unfollow everyone except those select few you are actively engaging with and interested in. Don’t feel guilty! It’s actually doing them a favour. You see, the way the Instagram algorithm works (at least to my knowledge in this current moment), is that our posts show up in feeds depending on the level of engagement of our followers, so if someone has a ton of followers but not many are actually liking/commenting, then their posts are probably not going to show up. So, if you aren’t actually engaging with an account, unfollowing them is a good thing because their percentage of engaged followers will go up, and they will be more likely to reach the people who ARE really interested in them.
#MindfulMediaChallenge Day 2: Morning and Night Ritual
Ritual or routine is one of the most powerful ways to enhance productivity and happiness. Having a morning and/or nighttime routine, however small and simple, will help you get off to a good start in the morning and ensure you get good rest at night.
Today’s #MindfulMediaChallenge task:
- Design a base ritual that is maximum 5 minutes, that way you’ll always be able to do it even if you are pressed for time. On days where you find yourself wanting to do more, follow that intuition.
- Make sure your ritual that has 3 parts: something for your body, something for your spirit, and something for your mind. Here’s an example of my morning/night ritual right now:
- For my body: I pour a big mug of hot water with lemon juice
- For my spirit: I sit, light a candle and burn palo santo (a sweet smelling wood)
- For my mind: I do a few minutes of tapping (google Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) if you want to try), followed by some moving meditation.
Once I’ve done my base ritual, I usually feel called to do more, so I’ll often turn on some music and/or @oneOeight.tv and do some yoga. In the morning I tend to focus on strengthening my body or working on injuries, in the evening I prefer yin and restorative, or reading a book.
If you have kids or distractions: work them into your ritual. I used to just not do my morning ritual if I woke up at the same time as my daughter Lily, but now I still do it. Sometimes she joins me or sometimes she just does her own thing, but usually she is patient enough for me to get through at least my base ritual. Sometimes I stay up late working, but I still try to squeeze in at least that 5 minute base ritual.
Always do your morning routine BEFORE you look at your phone in the morning, and AFTER you put away your phone at night. Do NOT sleep with your phone in the same room. If you need an alarm, set it loud enough that you will get out of bed to turn it off, or get an actual alarm clock.
Remember: a little of something is better than a lot of nothing.
#MindfulMediaChallenge Day 3: Intentionally Open
How often you check your phone? How much time do you spend on your phone? Research shows that we drastically underestimate our phone usage, and that most of the time we are checking our phones unconsciously, out of habit, rather than with any intention or purpose. According to a study by influence marketing agency Mediakix, the average person will spend more than 5 years of their lives on social media. YIKES! I’d recommend getting an app like Moment or Flip if you want to objectively see what your usage is like – you might be surprised.
Today, the challenge is: Anytime you go to open your phone, make sure you are doing so intentionally.
- Ask yourself: What is it that I am going to do? Is it truly necessary or uplifting? Or am I just filling space?
- Then, take three deep breaths and notice what feelings come up. Name them, e.g. “I’m anxious”, “I’m bored”, “I’m uncomfortable”
- Once you are present and connected to your emotions, if you decide checking your phone is important and/or will bring you joy, then go ahead. If it was just a habit or impulse, replace that urge with something more soulful. For example, you might do a quick stretch or just pause and enjoy the moment you are in.
#MindfulMediaChallenge Day 4: Forest Bath
Forest bathing is the practice of taking a short, leisurely visit to a forest for health benefits. The term comes from the Japanese word shinrin-yoku, which means “immersing in the forest atmosphere”. The practice originated in Japan in the 1980s and today it is recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity and a main aspect of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine, and the concept is spreading worldwide.
Studies have measured changes in immune markers and stress hormones in people who regularly practice forest bathing. Studies have shown that within 15 minutes of being in nature, your stress level goes down, your heart rate, blood pressure improves. If you’re in nature longer, you can feel less depressed and less anxious, and it has a positive effect on your creativity and cognitive ability.
Today’s challenge is to take a forest bath:
- Leave your phone at home, or at least put it on airplane mode
- Take note of how your are feeling, on a scale of 1-10, 1 being severely depressed and 10 being blissed out.
- Go to a forested area, preferably away from city noises. A quiet beach would work too.
- Walk and explore with the conscious intention of slowing down, connecting and healing. Pay attention to the plants and the sky and the earth and breathing in the fresh air.
- Afterwards, take note of how your are feeling on the scale of 1-10. Journal about any thoughts or epiphanies you might have had.
#MindfulMediaChallenge Day 5: Self care
With having put this weeks tasks into action, you might be pleasantly surprised to find you have some more free time on your hands! While it will be tempting for some to fill it up with more work (yes, me over here), today I want you to do something totally “selfish”. Yes, go ahead and do that yoga class, read that book you bought two months ago, learn a new craft, take a bubble bath, watch your favourite movie/TV show, go out with friends – whatever!
#MindfulMediaChallenge Day 6-7: Weekend Retreat
For the last part of this challenge, I encourage you to try a full weekend retreat. Here are the guidelines:
- Turn off all app notifications, or delete them, and basically just use your phone as you would a landline.
- Do your morning/evening rituals, a forest bath and at least one additional thing for your self care that you normally wouldn’t do
- Spend quality time with your family
- Pick one shelf/room/drawer that you’ve been avoiding and organize it
- Clean/do laundry and get ready for your week ahead
I’d love to hear how this challenge goes for you! Tag me and use the hashtag #MindfulMediaChallenge so we can connect.