Hi guys! Welcome back to the September Series on the blog, where I am blogging every weekday of the month! For many years I wrote consistently 5-7 days a week on The Balanced Blonde, but somehow as the brand has grown I found myself slipping from writing my consistent blog content. And I MISSED IT! And you guys! So here I am. 🙂 Would love to hear how you’re liking it!
Today I want to talk about striking a balance with social media… i.e. how I’ve learned to have a job in social media without spending ALL of my time on screens or thinking about being on screens or getting too caught up in the perfection of it all.
I will be the first to say that I have a LONG way to go… I have been known to work tirelessly on vacation and get a little too wound up about capturing the most picturesque Instagram photo, but I have to admit as the years have gone on being so “on” for the screens has seemed FAR less exciting to me than it did in the beginning.
The more in touch I’ve gotten with myself and truly the happier I’ve become in my REAL life, outside of the screens, the easier it has been for me to detach from it all when I need to. And newsflash: we all need to.
Let’s back it up a little bit. A few years ago I was pretty lost. I had just moved back to LA from NYC, I was very publicly recovering from an eating disorder and switching from the vegan label to a non-labeled way of life, I left a big heart of my heart in New York, and when I got back to LA it seemed the only thing for me to do here was to dive into my blog, full speed ahead.
At the time I was writing my first book (which you can find here), running a clothing line (TBV Apparel, anyone?!), blogging every day of the week and launching a TBB recipe app. I was a one woman show with no help and I loved it that way — I had my eye on building my brand and I poured my entire heart and soul into it.
There was a lot going on in my family life, my dating life (was in an awful relationship with someone who refused to commit to being with me but still spent every day with me), and my health, aka the very beginnings of my Lyme disease, was flaring up likely crazy.
To distract myself and to feel like I had a special purpose, what I kept doing was working, working, working, nose to the grind, creating more content, coming out with more ebooks and programs (which you can still find on the SHOP tab of my website), posting on social media, scrolling Instagram, the works.
What I was always praised for and also what I found great joy in was working. When everything else seemed to be spiraling out of control, I would think, “At least I have built this awesome brand — a brand that I am proud of that I can continue to grow and focus on and work on every day and that actually makes me HAPPY to work on.”
And while all of that I still true, I had WAY TOO MUCH ANXIETY about getting the perfect photo at the perfect time, all of the time. I mean like on vacation I would absolutely scream my head off at my parents if they could not capture a good shot (which was most of the time at first, they’ve gotten a lot better with the iPhone photo life now), and I even brought products on vacation with my friends to shoot because I was never not working, never not committed to working with 394839 brands.
Let’s just say that all in all I did not have a balanced approach when it came to using technology, and especially using technology to work.
Fast forward to now. So much has changed. I have lived in LA again for over four years, and I have settled into it being home. I now live with the love of my life and Huddy, and Jonathan is so good at reminding me to live in the moment and not get so caught up in what is going on with my phone & social media.
I have learned to LET GO of so much. I let go of my clothing line and my app, and that has freed me up to begin my podcast, which has then freed me up from doing so many social media & blog partnerships that I was once always shooting and creating content for. The beauty of podcasting is that once a week, I can sit down with a super inspiring person and chat with them, then record my intros & outros, and call it a week. It does not require sitting in front of a screen and scrolling, in any way!
I have also gotten very SICK… so those issues I was experiencing four years ago were my body trying to tell me that something was radically off. Now that I know what it is, I have been able to take so much time for deep healing and rest. Trying to get my life, energy and vitality back while battling Lyme is a full-time job in itself.
During this time I have found that scrolling social media never fulfills me. It is easy to lose an hour here, an hour there scrolling Instagram or editing my photos and planning my feed. And of course I still do that, because my career still requires it and I can have fun with it too, but I am not so obsessed as if its my full LIFE anymore. I have also found that when I scroll social media too much, it takes me out of my own ideas and creativity. I would so much rather create from a place within and then see what everyone is up to later.
Lastly, I have LET GO of those perfect “instagrammable” photos. Now I think the most IG-worthy photos are totally in the moment, expressing myself, being ME. Not photos from some fancy photoshoot on the beach — videos in my apartment making breakfast, unedited, real life stuff.
And lucky for me, that requires way less editing and time.
So that is MY story with social media & I will share with you the tips I have found to be a little less “addicted” if you will, and live more in the moment!
My Tips! //
+ Never scroll first thing in the morning. I leave my phone in airplane mode while I sleep so that when my alarm goes off in the morning and I reach over to turn it off, I am not instantly bombarded with messages, emails, podcast updates, etc. I can wake up peacefully and take the first hour of the day to just CHILL. Sometimes I journal and meditate, other times I just lay in bed cuddling Huddy and being one with my thoughts — remembering my dreams, sorting out problems from the day before, getting in touch with the creativity that inspires me, thinking about ideas for a new project. The morning is not the time of day to scroll!
+ Create habits and routines off-the-screens that fill you up. I love my morning routine sans phones, including making iced coffee in the kitchen, listening to music, stretching and doing some yoga, and jumping on my rebounder to get my lymph moving. At night, J & I like to wind down without our phones and do some meditation together, connect in bed and chat about our days, play with Huddy, and either read or watch a movie together. I don’t count a movie as screen time because it is actually a great way to escape the social media / “what everyone else is doing” world and just be present and allow yourself to be entertained. Especially when you’re doing it with someone you love!
+ Let go of the perfection of that “perfect photo” or having the perfect feed. I have gone through a lot of phases with my Instagram aesthetic. At first it was all food, then it was very much food & lifestyle, then all lifestyle, then all yoga, then I got sick of ALL of that and felt like just sharing what I do in my life — whether that be meals or yoga or running or time with my babe at home or traveling or ANYTHING — and now it’s back to a little mix of all of it, with more of an emphasis on wellness. I used to get so worried that my feed wasn’t streamlined or consistent enough, but who cares?
If you focus on what your WHY is, maybe it will help those fears go away. For me, I have never intended to have the perfect IG feed. I may have gotten caught up in that for a while, yes, but I am so happy to have let go of it. My “why” is that I am here to inspire people, and I feel that the right people will come my way whether or not my feed is perfect or whether I always get the perfect photo. I am so much more interested in LIVING, and I have a feeling the people who are meant to follow me are the same way. 🙂
+ Add things into your life that help you clear your head. For me that is definitely exercise (a blissful hour or hour and a half where you cannot have your phone around, like a yoga class or a HIIT workout), and I like to exercise at the end of the workday around 5 or 6pm to “close off” the day. I put my phone onto airplane mode and then I just check out. I don’t need to answer to anyone, I don’t force myself to be on. I am able to reconnect to myself during that time and draw a line between the workday, “on” me and the totally real life me who is ready to step away from all the screens and just live. If its not exercise, maybe it is a walk outside or a meditation or even just making dinner with your family. It can be as simple as ever and still get the job done.
+ Think about what makes you HAPPY, and do more of it. I don’t know about you, but scrolling Instagram is not something I would count as something that makes me happy. But does it still take up a considerable portion of my time? YES. And it doesn’t have to!! When I remind myself what I love about my daily life: my morning routine, spending time with people, making dinner, doing yoga, being outside, exercising, being present in the moment with those around me… it makes it easy to step off of social media and take a break. It’s all about reminding yourself what you love and knowing that it’s there for you, you DO have time for it.
+ When you’re on vacation, come up with designated “online time” and then be completely present for the rest of it. This is something Jonathan came up with, and we have been pretty good about sticking to it when we are on vacation. We spend about 30 minutes in the late morning and either 30 minutes or an hour at the end of the day doing what we need to do online, from social media to emails. Then the rest of the day we just get to be with each other, play, explore, have fun, and take pics with our phones on airplane mode. 🙂
+ Remember that EMAILS CAN ALWAYS WAIT! And that makes social media comments & responses too. This one key point has been life changing for me. Spending less time on email is what my heart and soul has been calling for for YEARS. I like to group it all together and do no email/social media/scrolling days when I need them. Email can be just as stressful, it also means being “ON.”
+ Instead of scrolling your feed, search for your friends / fam to stay up to date on their feeds! I don’t really scroll IG these days. I have about 10 or 20 go-to’s that I search, from my mom to my best friends to other bloggers I love and admire, and I search them to see what they are up to on social media, which DOES make me happy. I like to engage and get inspired and support the people I love. But I don’t want to scroll down the rabbit hole of seeing what 34839348 other people and their fiancé’s mom’s friend’s daughter are up to. Ya know?
I hope this helps! Like I said, I still have a long way to go but avoiding that social media induced anxiety is so important. It may be hilarious for me to say that as a blogger, but because bloggers can sometimes be PART of the problem with the comparison trap and whatnot, I think it is as important for us to share as ever. Social media was way different when I first started blogging — it used to be a form of entertainment, it’s now a way of life! But we can take our life and our time back, we have that control, and it feels damn good when we do. Thoughts?! xo