Stopping to smell the roses or admiring nature has always helped me focus on what is important. There is something about the air, trees, and liveliness of everything in nature, in my opinion. It helps to keep things simple in this over complicated world. The beginning of this summer is a bit different than last year where COVID rocked our existence and kept people inside and isolated. Instead of what we needed more of (e.g., nature, beach walks, family gatherings) we increased our use of social media and devices to get through the traumatic impact of the pandemic. It made sense to me, as I struggled and still struggle to put down my phone. It was all too much. It was time for a social media break.
Social Media Break
Slowing down this summer is not about saying “no” to family gatherings, vacation with loved ones, or getting out in nature, but slowing down the social media and device obsession. I know my online presence has increased in the last year, and I have gone back and forth with deleting and redownloading the Facebook app a few times. I have become somewhat of an anthropologist, recognizing that when I am feeling down, tired, or frustrated, I tend to reach for my phone to scroll and zone out, not having to think about my worries for a bit.
As a therapist, I know all too well I need to use healthier coping skills. I am currently working on that. I find that when I am zipping through social media, I can elicit emotions as I view. I can see things that bring on jealousy, joy, sadness, and anger as I flood my mind with endless feed. I begin to compare myself and life to others which robs me of experiencing contentment. It is as though I speed things up with the novelty of pages and messages on social media, even as I appear to have slowed things down lounging on the couch.
Slowing Down, Saying Yes
Slowing down this summer means saying “yes” to people, real people in person. Saying “yes” to the hike, walk, run, or beach walk is what we need more of today. Slowing down this summer means saying “no” to myself when I want to zone out and scroll and not connect with nature, people, and outside.
The way I connect in my life is walking outside. No need to put a lot of expectations on it, just put on the shoes, grab a loved one or not and start stepping into slowing down. Give yourself a break—a social media break.
Alyson Peña, LPCC
Clinical Director and Family Therapist