It is very difficult for me to write this article. I’m going to do it anyway because I think by sharing my experience; it might be helpful to someone else going through the same thing.
I love social media, and I’m typically on Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, YouTube, etc… every day. It is not unusual for me to send 50 tweets in a day. I’m what you would call “very active.”
About two months ago, I noticed that I started making changes in my life to accommodate my social media habit. These small changes started out to be subtle things, but slowly increased to be major changes, which affected my sleeping patterns, my eating patterns, my health in general and my personal relationships.
At first, I was able to keep all the plates juggling in the air at the same time. I was like any beginner addict; I could incorporate it all into my daily life without too many people questioning me. However, when a few of my personal relationships, which happened to be online, suddenly became more complex, I hit a wall and I shut down. I have not logged into any social media site for 8 days. If it wasn’t for the help of some very special friends, quite honestly, I may have never come back. I felt, at the time, like I was at the point of no return.
I’m happy to say that during my 8 days off, I’ve made huge progress. I know that I have two choices. I can either take this experience, feel embarrassed and shameful, and never come back. Or, I can return, stronger than ever, kicking ass as always, and armed with new information.
I have chosen the second option and I feel better than ever. What I experienced was a very real case of social media burnout. As a Twitterholic, I’ve joked around about burnout before, but I will not do that again. It can be a very painful, very real experience to go through.
The symptoms of social media burnout are: Anxiety, depression, fatigue, isolation, loneliness, mood swings, poor nutrition, loss of interest in personal relationships and loss of interest in daily activities.
If you are experiencing this, the first thing I recommend that you do is start drinking a lot of water immediately. It is amazing what water can heal. The next thing is, start exercising right away. Exercising releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. It will really help you feel better. I want to share with you the things that I did to return from the dark side to see the light again. I hope this will help anyone else that is going through a similar ordeal.
1. Do Not Eat Your Meals At Your Computer
I’ve always loved to cook. I even published a cookbook last year. A few months ago, I stopped cooking altogether. As a matter of fact, I stopped buying groceries. Instead, I started just buying quick already prepared, unhealthy meals to eat while sitting at my computer.
This was a bad habit that contributed to my burnout. Now I have gone back again to the joy of cooking, and I eat my meals at the table with my son like a real family. I’m not saying you have to cook like me, but just don’t eat your meals at your computer if you can help it. Just making this one modification has helped me tremendously.
2. Keep In Touch With Phone Friends
I had gotten to a point where I only checked my personal voicemail about once a month, and I almost never called anyone back. Some of my friends joked with me that they had to join Twitter to get in touch with me.
I’m still catching up on all my phone calls. I’m happy to report that I did finally call my mother back and other people in my family. I cannot stress the importance of keeping up your phone relationships. Once I stopped doing that, I felt disjointed from the world, which only added to the problem.
3. Reach Out To Others
I’m not a person who normally reaches out to anyone. I am very private, and I do not open up to many people. I’m so blessed to say that I didn’t have to reach out to others; they came to me. I have received dozens of DMs and tweets from friends who were concerned. Thank you all so much for that. It means the world to me.
There were three people though that really helped me see the sunshine again. My Twitter BFF, @mistygirlph, continuously checked on me to make sure I was okay, and I love her so much for that. @AskAaronLee, who I am convinced is an angel walking the earth, took the time to talk me off the ledge and helped me put things in perspective. I just love him.
There was one other person who I don’t think I will ever be able to thank enough. He contacted me on DM about two days ago, and as a result, we spent almost two hours on Skype. I was able to open up to him about everything and wow… it felt so good. I’m leaving his username out of this article, but he knows who he is, and knows how much I absolutely adore him. It was truly a RAOK, which I will never take for granted or forget. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
If you are going through a similar experience, I cannot stress to you how important it is to find someone that you can open up to about it. Along with social media burnout comes feelings of isolation and loneliness. I promise you, the best way to start the healing process is to trust someone and open up to him or her. It will open your heart and allow the sunshine back inside.
4. It’s All About Balance
Like so much in life, it’s all about balance. You control your life; your computer does not control you. Social media burnout doesn’t just happen overnight. You don’t just wake up and say, “Oh, I’m burned out.”
It happens slowly over time. I can compare it to being in a bad relationship. It’s all fun in the beginning, but then things slowly start to deteriorate over time. Then you look at your life and wonder how you got there in the first place. It’s the same thing. Keep the balance in your life. If it doesn’t come naturally for you, then go out of your way to make time for activities and events that are not in front of the computer. This is critical.
5. Don’t Take Life Or Yourself Too Seriously
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Take a step back, relax, have some fun, giggle at a funny joke, take a walk on the beach, or even just enjoy a rainbow. Everything is going to be okay. It’s not the end of the world. It may feel like it in that moment, but it isn’t. Remember that.
6. Your Social Media Friends Are Real Friends, Really!
I’m going to say something here that will disagree with every article I’ve read on social media burnout. It’s something that all those articles say which doesn’t feel right to me, and I finally realized it is a skewed way to look at things.
You will read that when you are feeling burned out; you should start to focus on your “real life.” I hear that all the time. It’s such segregation really. There seems to be this theory of real life vs. social media life.
Just like at other times in our history we have had issues with segregation, I think this is a backwards and messed up way to view things which only contributes to the problem because it encourages a feeling of “us” and “them” instead of “togetherness.”
Our online friends are just that, online. However, that does not mean they are second-class friends that are irrelevant in our “real life.” This attitude, to me, just shows that social media is still in the infant stages.
There are real people behind those avatars (most of them anyway), and the relationships you build are real. Social media, in whatever form it continues to evolve into, is an extension of our “real life,” not a separate entity. My social media friends are not the red headed stepchildren of my life, which is how most articles on this topic will spin it.
My Twitter friends are especially very close to me, and I love them very much. Knowing that these relationships are real, and you can treat them as such, will bring a lot of happiness to your life which will help you overcome this burnout syndrome.
You have to believe in yourself enough to trust your own decisions about where you are spending your valuable time. Unless social media is specifically part of your 9 to 5 job and you are being paid to do it, it should not feel like work. If it does, something is wrong.
I have met the most genuine, caring and creative people on Twitter. I have missed you so much, and I love you dearly. I’m back, and back stronger than I was before! Whoever coined the phrase, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” was correct. Thank you for being patient with me while I worked this all out. You are such wonderful friends, and I appreciate you so much more than you know. :) #ilovemytwitterfriends
http://www.flickr.com/photos/atpalicis/4364282212/ – made by the very talented @atpalicis
http://myburnoutthing.com – Thanks to cartoonist Megan @myburnoutthing