I just came off a full week offline. Meaning I didn’t open my MacBook once over the last week. I’m so proud of me. ;)
Though I thought it would be refreshing, I actually experienced a wide array of different emotions. Let me try to recollect them all for y’all: Stress, anxiety, fear, relief, guilt, anger, melancholy, rejuvenation, longing, and at last, refreshment.
…then some more anxiety.
I came back to a rather ridiculously full email inbox, unapproved comments, and twitter messages.
But you know what? I survived. The people who emailed me survived. And you all are still here! For that, I am thankful. It doesn’t, however, diminish the anxiety I felt being away from my community here, though.
I think a lot of us are afraid to take a full day off from our computers as I recommended not too long ago. After all, it’s so much easier to bring your posse everywhere with you nowadays. Phones, tablets, laptops, and tvs everywhere make it seem like you should be online at all times.
I’ve talked about the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) here before, but I think it’s worth a revisit as we get rollin’ into the holiday season.
FOMO is the powerful force that drives us to obsessively check our social media channels, texts and email, and to feel that anxiety when we don’t. I experienced some drastic FOMO on my trip back home. No wait: I had a full-blown social media withdrawal!
To avoid that same fate for you all, I’d like to take some time today to look at balance. During the holiday season, it’s gonna take a little more effort to find.
Ideally, you want to spend time with your family when you’re with them this holiday season, no? To actually experience your time with them, you’ll have to put Siri aside for a little bit. That doesn’t mean that you have to go cold turkey, though.
To be with your family both physically and mentally is important, but you don’t have to go so far as to completely black out your friends across the world for the whole week you’re visiting like I did. For some, it’s bound to create more anxiety and overwhelm when you actually do come back to real life (aka what I’m going through at the moment ;)).
Here are some tips to find your balance and show FOMO who’s boss:
Limit your online presence while on vacay
Let your friends and followers know ahead of time if you’re skipping out for a little bit, so that they don’t expect an email back right away. I personally developed a vacation message that automatically replied to all my emails while I was gone.
When you’re with family, have the courage to put your cell phone on silent or even leave it in the other room. Take the time to be there with them: listen, talk, experience this time with them.
Answer emails once a day
Can’t get away with leaving your email completely for a whole week? Schedule half an hour every day to check and get back to your emails.
Let your family know that this is all you need every day to keep from going looney tunes and they’re bound to be ok with it.
Knowing you only have half an hour will make every action you take deliberate. Weed out the fluff from the 911s and only get back to the emails that are time sensitive. Think of it as super-efficient time. :)
Schedule your updates
This tip only works if you run a business that has an online presence. For Strong Inside Out, Facebook is an important part of the community, and it thrives on daily updates (I’m devoted to your motivation, people!). Knowing that I wouldn’t be updating all week, I scheduled pictures and posts for the whole time I’d be gone so that the community wouldn’t suffer and I wouldn’t leave you all at a time when–let’s face it–we need that boost of inspiration to stay healthy.
I kept the Twitter updates minimal (only updates for new posts), scheduling them through tweetdeck before I left.
If I had any important emails or reminders to send out, I scheduled them through this awesome app called Boomerang for gmail that lets you send out emails at a designated time.
When all was said and done, scheduling these updates was the best step I took before checking out for a week.
Realize you can’t be there for everything
This worry? This fear of missing things? It’s like a watered-down version of motherly worry!
Well, you are not the mother of those however-many Facebook friends you have. You don’t have to be there for every single event, picture, or video that’s posted! They won’t grow up and turn into terrible people if you don’t comment on their baby-picture-of-the-hour!
Take all that energy from worrying and instead place it on acceptance of the fact that you can’t be there for everything.
What do you want your life to look like? If you automatically go to, “I really want to spend all my time inside and glued to my computer!” then please disregard this next tip…
If your life goal does not include becoming a hermit, however, you must accept that you’ll miss out on some things. You’ll have to be ok with that in order to make peace with leaving it for hours at a time.
And of course, run it out
When I come up against anxiety and stress, nothing alleviates it more for me than going for a run or taking a yoga class. If you read Run It Out: The Science of Exercise And Stress/Depression/Anxiety, you know that exercise can directly benefit those suffocating feelings of missing out.
Moving will help ground you in the present and out of the downward-spiraling head space created by FOMO. Go out for a walk, run, class or even a touch football game with your family. Just get out and live in the real world. It’s a great reminder of something you should fear missing out on while you’re huddled in the corner tweeting…
Even though Thanksgiving has passed, I just want to express my deep gratitude for all of you who take the time to read and support me here at Strong Inside Out. I would like to personally invite you to send me a message if there are any issues you wish for me to write about here! If you’re comfortable saying it out here in the open, please feel free to leave it in the comments below.
Thank you all for giving Strong Inside Out the strength to keep growing,