If you’ve been on the internet recently you’ve probably heard about self-care, often coupled with Insta-worthy pictures of pretty bath bombs and a glass of wine. However, I think real self care needs to be more than just those pretty pictures. In our ever more digitized world, it is becoming harder and harder to unwind and de-stress - especially if you keep yourself constantly plugged in. Even if we hear all the potential downfalls of too much screen-time, including: isolation, blue light disrupting sleep, even self-esteem issues, we are almost all guilty of being constantly “plugged in”.
For example, the blue light thing. Most of us have heard all the data on how blue light makes it harder to fall asleep by interfering with melatonin production and how checking our phones before bed or first thing in the morning isn’t good for us. But how many of us actually take the time to unplug? Instead, we buy the fancy blue-light blocking glasses and continue to chug away on our laptops and phones because we have deadlines!
Those of us working in very tech-heavy or social media heavy industries can be even more susceptible to this; we think we always need to be available or “on call” as it were. The typical 9-5 job can quickly become 24-7 if we don’t take the time to breathe and disconnect from our tech.
Working in social media marketing, we need to be available when customers are online to help troubleshoot, post relevant content and engage with our audiences; however, most customers are online after work - in their free time. This often necessitates that we (the marketers) move or extend our working hours so that we are able to quickly respond to any inquires as they come up in those post-work hours. With this then, how can we set boundaries for ourselves so work doesn’t take over every waking hour? How can we disconnect from our tech without feeling guilty or like we’re missing something?
The first solutions are meant to help with the internal, business part of marketing teams. Starting by implementing tools within your business that will help your workers feel like they have work/life balance can start off very simple! Try setting up automatic posting, programming automatic replies to frequently asked questions and setting realistic business hours on social media pages. A simple “we will do our best to answer your questions in a timely matter, but our employees need to go home too so we will only be responding between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm” can do wonders! People understand that a job is probably not your entire life and that brands are run by humans too. In fact, a humanizing statement like this may actually help your brand seem more approachable and trustworthy! Think about it: would you rather know that you won’t get a reply on that Facebook message you sent to a company after hours or get increasingly frustrated that no one has responded to your message and it’s been three hours and counting (even though it is 10:00 at night)?
Once you’ve set reasonable expectations for your customers, how do you let yourself unwind after a day’s work? Most of the following tips are very simple and if you find a method of relaxing that you really enjoy, you won’t even miss your tech!
To start with, try to turn off all work-related tech and notifications at the end of the work day. Make yourself finish all your work at the office (or for those remote workers - during work hours) and have coming home be “you time”. Your commute is a great place to start! Traffic can be a hassle and you may be hungry after a long day at work. Keep some snacks in your car and have your favourite podcast/audiobook/music ready and waiting so you can begin to unwind before you even get home.
Another easy place to remove tech from is dinner. Put your phone away during dinner and have quality time with the people (or animals) that you live with. As someone who lives alone, I think that TV can be comforting background noise after work. It can sort of take the place of someone to talk to and fun, mindless shows are a great detox after a day at work where your brain has been constantly working.
After dinner, really make an effort to carve out time for yourself. Whether it’s going to the gym, reading, doing a face mask, taking a bath, meditating, going for a walk, doing a puzzle or anything else: find what calms and centers you. This is great to do before bed. Speaking of which, morning and night routines can be so helpful! If you plan out a morning routine such as going to the gym, taking a shower, getting ready, breakfast, and making a to-do list for the day before you ever go onto your phone/computer, you will feel so productive and not rushed by the never-ending emails! The same goes for bed. Maybe you could go for a walk after dinner, take a shower or a bath, grab a glass of wine (caveat: alcohol actually makes it harder for you to fall asleep) and then after all your fancy lotions and creams are on, get into bed with a nice book and/or a cup of tea and some soft lighting; you’ll be ready to sleep before you know it and your brain won’t be running a hundred miles a minute thinking of everything you need to do tomorrow.
Basically, if you take anything from this blog, I hope it’s this: take some time for you, away from your phone. It doesn’t have to be entire days or even multiple hours. Like anything, you should start slow; try putting your phone away during dinner or changing your notification settings so you only get your work emails during work hours or taking an hour to meditate/take a bath/read a book each night. Your stress levels will likely decrease and your sleep should improve too!