Yesterday was the first time I’ve truly felt like myself in a really, really long time. I found myself smiling & simultaneously crying at something beautiful. I heard the words “this is who you are; who you’ve always been. You just lost yourself for a little while… & this is why…” from someone who knows me very well. I felt at peace. I didn’t have my mind on a boatload of things. I was focused & clear-minded.
After my oral surgery last week, I tried to spend as much time as I could resting. Recent bouts of insomnia weren’t helping the recovery process so I decided to limit avoidable stress triggers, which came down to limiting (& even completely eliminating) things such as social media & group chats.
I should preface this by saying that I love my friends. I’m so grateful to them for all they’ve done for me. But, as much as I love them, my introverted & highly sensitive battery was not only depleted but had been running on empty for weeks. I felt like I wasn’t getting enough time for myself & mental health which was affecting my physical health. All of that was contributing to my recent health relapse that I’m just now (finally!) recovering from.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the constant bombardments of notifications of “new this!” & “new that!” for months now. When I realized that the best recovery period I had was when my eyesight was so bad that I couldn’t use my phone, I knew I had to place better boundaries about my social media & messaging usage.
I started by trying not to feel bad or guilty for not replying to messages. I hate not responding but I’d reached my breaking point. I felt like crying whenever I saw the little red dots alerting me of new messages. I physically felt my blood pressure spike up & my face flush when I saw new messages despite muting the notifications. That’s when I knew I had to do the hard thing and ask friends to not include me in group chats any longer. Just thinking that an hour break could mean over 50 new messages would give me major anxiety. I knew some people wouldn’t like it & would even get angry at me for asking to be excluded & for leaving group chats but I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to be selfish & do what was best for me.
It was hard to accept that social media had both created the biggest stress trigger & also numbed me, emotionally. The environment on these platforms are so volatile that I had unknowingly created a emotional shield to protect my naturally sensitive nature from it. I didn’t realize that the emotional numbness had seeped into my life “offline” until I realized how differently I felt & acted while taking a stricter break from the platforms & messaging.
After taking several days off & even deleting the Instagram app (IG is my social media kryptonite & the only social media app I use), I busied myself with things I once loved & enjoyed that didn’t involve social media. Or, really, much of the internet (e.g. browsing). The changes in me were noticeable. My relationships in person got better. My stress levels drastically decreased. While insomnia is still a pain in my tush, I was sleeping better & for longer periods of time.
Spending time with old friends (& not using social media or messaging to do so)… taking long walks outside… doing little things to take care of my physical & emotional health — all of these things also contributed to my recent recovery journey.
God knows that I needed all of this. He has been preparing my heart & mind for it for months. I’m equal parts emotional & logical & He knew I was going to need the groundwork that was laid down starting with my trip to Clear Creek Abbey this past August. During that trip I was forced to disconnect, embrace more silence, & see how much better a simpler way of life was for me. I saw how much healthier & happier I was with friends (talking to them in person versus using technology to do it), being more physically active, & being surrounded by things that kept God at the forefront of my mind.
I know it’s easier for friends to keep in touch using social media (the most popular means of communication for most) & texting (2nd most popular), but I’m going to slow things for myself.
To my friends reading this: I love you all so much but I need the break. Voice messages are preferred to text messages & emails are preferred to both. If it’s something urgent or don’t have the time to email me, please feel free to text me. But please be aware that I won’t reply so quickly. I owe people messages that are now a week old because I need to go slowly. I need to do this for my health. And for those of you who didn’t know: I pulled a Matt Fradd & changed my phone number & basically didn’t tell anyone I wasn’t in frequent communication with several weeks ago. I needed that fresh start when I switched mobile providers.
Where does this all leave me? Well, I want to blog more since I’ll be using social media even less than before. I plan on using social media & texting only when I need to. There is a chance a landline will be added at some point for urgent calls since I’m at home all day, every day. I plan on making other little adjustments that I hope to share as I implement them & update on my successes & failures with them. And I plan to start one of the (formerly annual) clean-a-thons that will also hopefully help me in other big changes that are coming up. (Stay tuned for more in a future post.)
For now, I’m going to take the rest of the day to rest & relax. Neighbors have been noisier than usual & I try to take the hours in which the kids are at school to nap as much as I can. Later today I’ll also spend a little more time with old friends before I have to say “goodbye” to them for a couple of months.
I guess I’m getting my wish to have a more “stripped down” Advent season, just in ways I wasn’t anticipating.
Okay, I think it’s time for that nap.
I hope you are all doing well.
As always, thanks for reading & God bless!