When things started getting serious with the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the first things I did was delete all of the social media apps on my phone.
I honestly couldn’t take the panic of the pandemic unfolding right in the palm of my hand. I felt everyone’s emotions about all the heavy things that were happening. It triggered me in all the wrong ways.
I couldn’t open Twitter without seeing the latest #CoronaVirus infection graph. I couldn’t scroll through my Facebook newsfeed without an update about something else being cancelled or postponed. My Instagram feed was filled with little 4×4 inch squares of hysteria. All of the posts, all of the updates, all of the news – it raised my anxiety in a whole new way. It all started crashing in on me, and I needed to turn it off.
So I did. And removing those social burdens was liberating.
How I Felt
At first, I had to fight some real impulses to mindlessly pick up my phone and scroll. It had become a habit for me; second nature honestly. But I started picking up a book instead of my phone, which seemed to help.
I won’t say the anxiety was instantly gone once I deleted those apps, but I felt lighter almost immediately. The pressure to check in with everyone and update them was now gone. The burden of carrying everyone’s hardships, setbacks, and fears was no longer there. I never really realized how much this feeling alone has weighed on me over the years. And the anxiety started to lift over time, because my focus started to shift back to the present and what was in my control.
What I Needed to Add Back
It was liberating for me to not log on social media sites and see the newsfeeds, but I was really starting to miss connecting with my running/mom friends and staying informed. After all, there were a few things about social media that really did bring me joy (like STILL I RUN!!). So after a few weeks of being completely removed from social media, I added back on my phone shortcuts that would take me directly to a few safe groups within my social media platforms. I check those about once a week to catch up on running news, my SIR community, and happenings from my mom friends around the area. This has been a good way for me to stay connected with things that are important to me, but still bypass all the anxiety triggers scattered throughout my newsfeeds.
What I Gained
Not only has my anxiety been at an all-time low, but I’ve cut my social media usage from honestly probably 10+ hours a week to about 20 minutes a week. It’s kind of sobering to think about all the time I used to scroll through my phone!
During this time, a friend told me about an app called Marco Polo to help me stay connected. It’s honestly been a game-changer for me with my relationships. Marco Polo is a way to send video messages to friends. I’m finding that through this app that I can really spend time connecting with the people who matter most in my life, instead of feeling a false connection to my social media “friends” who I rarely see beyond the screen.
Since the beginning of my social media overhaul (late March), I’ve read 14 (!!) books, rediscovered my love for watercolor painting, and spent more time in meditation to relax. I find myself honestly losing my phone throughout the day and spending more time in the present moment. I’m learning about the things that bring me joy and trying to do more of those things, which is helping me combat my anxiety all around.