When the worst things have happened to me throughout my life I have played them out openly on Facebook. My divorce, my struggle for friends and family to accept my my new partner, and my unexpected pregnancy. I have shared the good things too, the comfort I found in running, my love of good food, watching my son grow and develop. The problem is all of these things were shared through a filter, through other people’s words in the form of Instagram quote boards and through other people’s expectations as I merrily posted photos of the wonderful interactive crafts I was doing with my son. In reality I was sinking lower and lower.
My life online and my real life, whilst they shared some cross-over, were very different. I would post the cute photo of my son with a quip about how in love I was, when in reality I struggled for over two years with postnatal depression. I used Facebook as both a foggy filter of my life and as a silent cry for help, attempting to reach out to people through cryptic posts and the articles I shared.
There’s a lonely edge to social media, an expectation to be the best version of yourself all the time. We are all flawed, we all face battles and when we have to fight them the real support comes from the people you can reach out and touch…physically. My new partner (now my husband) was the one who pushed me to help myself. For me, the first steps were a series of sessions with a wonderful hypnotherapist who helped me to understand why I was feeling the way I was.
Living Unplugged has taken me on a journey, one that I am still very much on. I believe that Living Unplugged has different connotations for everyone and every person’s venture into it will be varied. In my case, my eyes were opened through a programme of self-care and mindfulness. As I began to forgive myself and move on from the difficulties of the years preceding my big life changes I began to take a more “selfish” view of the world around me. I cared less and less about my online persona and I began to find joy and peace in the physical things around me. Food, our vegetable patch, my son, running, our log fire crackling on a winter evening. It was strange to stop and notice these things.The first time I drank a cup of coffee mindfully, I cried. I wasn’t sad, I just felt overwhelmed that it was ok to stop and enjoy the moment.
As I was beginning to move towards a more mindful life a rather unexpected series of events cemented the idea of unplugging in my mind. Brexit. Yep, Brexit. Now I don’t mind what your political beliefs are, and I hope you won’t be offended by mine, but when I awoke to the news of Brexit and subsequently the election of Trump I was absolutely defeated. My social media feeds, and the filter bubble I had created meant that the despair, anger and panic of these moments was palpable. After three years of getting my stress levels under control I was suddenly addicted to checking the breaking news, I was getting heart palpitations again. My social feeds screamed out about impending disaster and I believed the end of the world was fast approaching. Articles analysing the rise populism and the inevitability of war littered my timeline and I binged on the information being served. Then, one day, I switched it all off. I reached ‘peak-stress’ and something in me snapped. I removed Facebook and Twitter from my phone and I started leaving my phone downstairs when I went to bed.
The transformation was incredible. I felt lighter, the weekends were about the moments and not the Instagrammed pictures. I stopped caring about posting every little thing on Facebook. I didn’t need to justify my weekend escapades on social media and more importantly I was much less stressed.
Living Unplugged isn’t necessarily about mindfulness or social media, like I said above, it’s a different journey for everyone and this is how I became interested. My advice to anyone seeking a Life Unplugged is to look at what and when your digital and online life becomes a hindrance, is it stopping you from talking to your partner in the evening? Are your days out all about the Facebook post at the end of it? Is your phone the first thing you look at before your loved ones?
Living Unplugged can help you make the positive changes you need to take life back and reconnect with the world.