|Image courtesy of Ashley Ella Design.|
Having a job (freelance writing) that makes you rely on the internet (to receive, turn in, and research assignments) all day... having your entire degree online (as I did last year when I did a year at Utah State)... having most of your friends rely on social media to interact, all forced me (and, really, gave me) the excuse to be online more than I should have. When I realized that I was a lot more burnt out that I had first guessed, I made the decision to step away a couple of days a week and it's been great.
First, I've made it a mission to take better care of myself because I'd been neglecting myself for a long time. I recently quit my low-paying and increasingly stressful job as a freelance writer for a certain company... and I'm not looking for any work at the moment. I'm not doing anything but having a vacation from the busyness of life before grad school begins. I want to use the next two months to create habits that will help me during grad school and after. That includes fixing my sleeping schedule, eating better, finding what little things I can do during the day that make me relax when things get overwhelming, etc.
Second, I've cut my time both online and on the laptop/iPod considerably... and that time offline will increase through the next couple of weeks. The majority of my Biblical Theology program will be done online so I know I'll be relying on technology a lot. I'm grateful that there will be a couple of lectures/events I will have to drive down to JP Catholic for since it will give me more excuses to not get online. In order to help curve the temptation to waste time online, I charge my laptop during off-peak hours (I purposely found out what they were in my area) and if the laptop runs out of battery, it stays that way until the following day. Same with my iPod touch. It gets charged once a day. If it doesn't last through the night, it waits until the following day. If I don't use it much, I will physically be in a different room than the laptop, iPod, and cell phone.
I'll be honest and admit that I do still log into Facebook daily because most of my best friends are on there and it's the easiest way for us to communicate on our busiest days. Some days I play "FB chat tag" with a friend or two throughout the day because of how busy we can get. However, I don't spend hours on FB. I'll spend a couple of minutes (or, most of the time, less than a minute) a couple of times (3-4) during the day; it depends on how many comments / conversations I'm having. That equals less than 5 total minutes on most days or up to less than 15-20 minutes on my most active days. The decision I made to have under 30 people on my list has made the difference because no one on my list abuses FB... and no one on my list loves to instigate drama.
As for Twitter... there is a reason why I completely avoid it on some days. I like Twitter but just not as much as I used to. I noticed that a lot of my defensive/grumpy moments have happened because of something that originated on Twitter. Lately it just seemed worse than usual. Some people love to cause trouble. Other people feel like they are free to speak to you as if they know you well even if they don't (read: untactful buttinski types). A good portion of the time, miscommunication will cause unnecessary drama. I don't like drama. I dislike when people instigate arguments for kicks. Yes, I chose to be on Twitter and to reply to the comment... but I've always chosen to step away from it or even not reply to everyone on some days for the sake of my sanity.
At the time of my reversion, I took a break from the online world. It was one of the most spiritually fruitful times in my life. My focus was on my relationship with God, choosing to not listen to former friends who'd emotionally and mentally bullied me. They were not okay with my decision to walk away from their friendships -- which I saw as harmful to me. It was hard but it got me back on the right path. Having a similar experience lately, I decided to step away in baby steps and it's done wonders.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who's noticed the change. I've been feeling less stressed, less defensive, and less sassy/sarcastic. I'm less likely to be uncharitable in my thoughts and words. I'm more likely to be understanding and compassionate, to let things slide, and just smile. I feel like I did when I was in my early reversion days. The spiritual dryness I'd been experiencing has lessened considerably. Not having the online drama invade my thoughts when I log offline has done wonders for my spiritual life.
I've been doing the St. Anne novena along with one to the Immaculate Heart of Mary... in that order. Yes, I chose the heavenly mother and daughter tag team. ;) I feel a wonderful sense of peace and love when praying them, especially the latter. The St. Anne novena is for my vocation (though I'm asking for clarity of vocation not that it be a specific one). The one to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is for (as I mentioned in the last post) learning to fill that loneliness/emptiness gap I've felt with His love "as I know no human being will ever be able to fulfill it." I end up including the idea of a future husband and children in that last novena. "If my vocation is of wife and mother -- as I believe it is -- please let me be full of His love first... because I don't expect my future husband to fill something he can't. It wouldn't be fair to expect that from him. Instead, please let be so full of His love that I can reflect it unto my future fella and children." I'm not sure I would've had as much clarity if I had been worried about something that happened online.
I like how my life offline is shaping up. My communication with my mom is getting better and we're learning how to work with our differing temperaments better. I've learned a lot of things about her that have increased my respect and love for her; she's learned some things she didn't even know about me. I've been sleeping better. I'm less cranky throughout the day. I'm less anxious. I've been able to concentrate much better when I pray. Instead of having to constantly fight off random thoughts -- usually of whatever disagreement or drama stemmed from Twitter -- popping up during my time in prayer, I've been able to concentrate on (and even visualize) the words I'm praying. Life is good. :)
Anyway, I just wanted to share this because I've seen a number of you feeling burnt-out on social media but are scared of taking breaks from it out of fear of boredom, missing out, etc. Trust me, I was in the same boat but, man, all this time offline has been great for me and it's made me want to spend even less time online. If you're stressed, try a day or two offline per week at the beginning and gradually increase it. You'll notice a difference after a couple of days. I seriously recommend it. :D
Alright, that's it from me for now. I have a number of things to do offline (mostly read... and drink tea... and watch the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility, and the 2009 version of Emma; did I mention I'm big on self-care these days?) and want to get to them early so I can sleep early. ;)
I hope y'all are doing well. :D
As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D