I recently posted a picture on Instagram with the caption, “Stop and smell the roses.” Anyone who saw this post probably got the message of the importance of taking a moment to stop and take in the beauty of life around us. Nice, right? What they didn’t know was that it took me an hour to take the right photo, edit it, come up with the caption, and then use the Preview app to decide where in my feed it would look best.
My side hustle is social media marketing, so this process occurs over and over again not only for me, but also for my clients. Between scheduling photoshoots, emailing, curating “inspo” boards and crunching analytics, I’m never not online. The grind doesn’t stop with my workday, either. You’re reading this article, which I wrote on my laptop, because writing is one of many things I enjoy doing in my personal time.
Naturally, my days can get pretty hectic, and I found myself wanting to de-stress, so, when I saw the #selfcare trend hit the scene, I was all about it. Eventually, however, I began feeling guilty because I couldn’t unplug — my livelihood depended on staying online.
Since I couldn’t cut technology out, I decided to create my own plugged-in self-care routine to navigate this overwhelming world of ours. Here are a few things that have worked pretty fantastic for me so far.
Wake up to soft lights
One day, after noticing how much I disliked waking up in a panic to turn off my screeching alarm, I decided to ditch the clock for good. Thanks to smart lights, I found a better way to wake up.
I use my Amazon Echo to control my bedside lamp’s bulb, and you can use any kind of smart speaker to do this. Besides being able to control the entire house, it has a nifty feature that lets me control when my lights turn on in the morning, and the frosted bulb keeps the light nice and soft.
You know that peaceful feeling on a Saturday when you wake up to the sunlight peering in from your windows? Yup—that could be your every morning thanks to this trick.
Set up mindful moments
Meditation is a great tool in helping me in keeping my anxiety at bay, as well as controlling any reactive emotions. What I found most helpful was a meditation style that I could take with me anywhere, which can be as simple as throwing in some earbuds.
There are many apps and YouTube videos out there to help guide you through meditation. Headspace is one of my favorite meditation apps, while my boyfriend prefers the Waking Up app by Sam Harris.
It’s important to allow myself the flexibility to practice as I feel best. One of my favorite methods is to do a guided meditation during a walk. It doubles as a spiritual moment, as well—a perfect time to pray and be proactive about my self-reflection.
Give yourself some work boundaries
To get out of the habit of hyper-focusing on my computer screen for hours on end, I began using the timer on my phone to go off four times every two hours during my workday. This signaled to me to take a 10-to-15-minute break. Not only did it help with eye strain, but I noticed I returned to work refreshed and able to see my project through a new lens.
And I didn’t stop there: I set an away message in my emails after 5 p.m. and turned work notifications on snooze besides those messages that came from important clients.
Work-life balance is a real thing, and this tiny tip absolutely did wonders for my happiness. I gave myself space to work on my own creative projects and to spend time uninterrupted with people I enjoy.
Plus, by giving others an expectation of my work hours, my work-related anxiety was—poof—gone. Miraculously, I didn’t get any pushback either. I learned that there’s nothing wrong with taking breaks and leaving things until the morning.
Start scrolling better
I’m not here to tell you to stop scrolling. I’m here to tell you to start scrolling better. So here’s what you’re going to do: Unfollow accounts that make you feel, well, bad, and follow accounts that make you feel good.
I did this exact thing years ago. So, yes, I unfollowed that toxic friend and beach-bound influencer, and I haven’t looked back. Today, my news feed inspires me creatively and connects me to my local community. I’ve even made some real-life friends from it.
One of these friends is a musician who lives in my same city. We connected on Instagram from a friend of a friend. At first, I approached her for an interview for a blog post I was working on. When we met up, there was an instant connection and since then have become close friends.
Take time for teletherapy
Once, at the end of one of my sessions, my therapist offered me a texting option — whenever I needed to talk, she was just a text away. It was incredibly helpful to have that as a handy tool whenever I needed some counseling outside of our weekly appointments. As you know, our mental health doesn’t wait for the day of an appointment to go sour.
Whether it’s a private communication between you and a local therapist or therapy via an app, it’s great to have the flexibility to talk it out when you need it.
“Self-care” rose from the ashes of workplace burnout. (You know, when you dedicate so much time to your main hustle and side hustle that you ultimately forget to take care of you.)
For me, self-care isn’t putting on that beautifying face mask; it’s the fact that I allowed myself to take the time to put on that face mask in the first place. And if I can do that while listening to a guided meditation or by watching Netflix, the better.
Remember, you’re allowed to practice self-care, technology and all.