For Intentional Living
I’ve shared before that I take Mondays off and limit my social media intake during the week. This is just one way I ensure that I’m intentional with social media and engage in digital minimalism. Here are the boundaries I’ve set for myself that you can too!
1. Follow few accounts and only those that lift you up.
Only you can determine which are best for you. I follow some that challenge me (in a good way), some that bring me nothing but joy, and some that give me hope. Lately, I’ve been loving @greengirlleah and learning all about Intersectional Environmentalism through her posts and experiences as a black woman environmentalist. @thelaminimalist which is an ad-free account helping me to interrogate what truly brings me joy and happily live with less. I find hope in @morganharpernichols whose poetry I read each evening when I fall asleep. Through these accounts and more I’ve lifted my heart to be big enough for compassion, faced my emotional and mental challenges, and found rest, joy, and love for myself.
These are positive spaces for me on social media and rare to find. And they remind me to…
2. Finish meaningful tasks first
This may look like calling a friend, reading, or finding time for exercise before tapping that app or logging on. I try to do one hour of intentional time each day before heading to instagram or facebook or netflix.
The idea is not to be too swept into a virtual or online space that you don’t develop relationships, skills, and your own ability to grow in your lived reality. If you see something inspiring on instagram, put your phone down and try it out! Social media can be a lovely tool, but for so many of us it becomes something to hide behind, use to compare our growth to the best moments of another’s journey, and fall into procrastination and distraction.
3. Set limits or timers for yourself.
For example, I set a 20 minute timer each time I tap into the app & 1.5 hours for the day. After 20 minutes I repeat #2. This has worked well for me the past few months.
However, this boundary may need to change depending on your mental, physical, or emotional state. In prioritizing other practices, such as those in #2, I hope to avoid missing out on intentional living. However, I set this boundary as a way to remove the temptation of endless scroll and make myself pause for a minute to see if there is something tangible and waiting to begin off screen.
Some folks even “log out” and “login” each day. A few steps that we are too scared to do for fear of forgetting our password or losing our ability to gain access to our online home. The pause and time to login may be enough to shake you out of a “need” to be on your social media and shorten your time using the apps.
4. Use social media for building relationships or whatever purpose it serves you best.
I have found instagram in particular to be a space that is positive, affirming, and creative for me to express myself and build community. Especially during the pandemic, it’s served as a goofy distraction and inspirnig tool for learning and laughing. However, when my mind begins ruminating over “what ifs”, “if only”, and other methods of comparison I know it’s time to take a break. Social media should be a distraction from reality. Rather, social media should be serving us.
5. Remember you are an influence and you’re being influenced.
Subconsciously or intentionally you are effecting others and being effected by others. With social media influencers rising, brands and companies are using the platform for advertising. Now, folks can even make a living off of being called an “influencer”. Who knows, maybe one day someone may call me that. It is important that we remind ourselves of the power of that influence.
While I use instagram to learn more about sutsainable products and new slow fashion brands, I have to be careful to remind myself that even though someone I follow on instagram likes a brand or a product I may not need to invest in the same items or services. Our minds are already more inclined toward consumption, we have to be careful how we are influenced to continue feeding ourselves to opinions and false narratives.
At the same time, our own words hold power. The anonymity of social media can mask the humanity and legitimate feelings of the user and observer. Let us remember that what we say can either be uplifting or degrading. Should we choose to engage in comments, may we do so with supportive language, uplifting attitudes and truth-telling.
Be mindful and stay kind.
6. Reflect often about if these boundaries need to be altered or if you need prolonged time away. Reassess and change as needed!
Some months or weeks or days we may need more time away. Doing so is also valid and we have the ability to “unplug” at any time! Remaining in control is possible by reflecting and reassessing our needs. I suggest finding a friend, partner, family member, or coworker who can support you in keeping boundaries while you venture into social media. They may be someone to go on a walk with so that you can free your mind and trust to hold your computer and/or phone. Let us be mindful of our need for rest and in doing so, these boundaries will feel more consistent and doable.
I’m sticking to these boundaries too, so let’s keep each other accountable.