My guide to limiting facebook use during difficult times
I've written several articles and infographics this year about self-care. Getting acupuncture is a form of self-care but there are other DIY (do-it-yourself) tools that I like to share with patients. This post is not strictly related to Traditional Chinese Medicine, but it is woven in there because it's part of my life.
This was originally a letter to a friend of mine who was trying to figure out how to limit her use of facebook since the Presidential election. Since facebook stirs up lots of emotions for many people, I've decided to expand it and share it here.
There are three sections. The first is stuff to set up outside of facebook so you'll be less reliant on it for different things. The second section is strategies to limit your time on facebook when you're on it. The third is about navigating your emotions and some suggestions from Traditional Chinese Medicine and alternative healing modalities.
I know this list may seem daunting, but even if you only do a few of them today and then more the next day, it can help. These are things I've done just over the past few weeks and it has made me a lot calmer.
Things to set up outside of facebook:
A few friends to connect with every day in person or via email, text, or owl to see how you're doing. I encourage you to find at least one or two people a day who you can be real with and who feel comfortable being real with you.
Pick a place to get your news from somewhere other than facebook. I subscribed to the New York Times during the election because I was looking at it so much. On the iPhone, there's a News app where you can set which publications you'd like to read and it give you the latest news there.
I also use feedly as a reader to follow friends' blogs, celebrity blogs, LGBT news, fun stuff, etc. I suppose I could combine those two into one but I just started using the news app and it was easy to set up. I've been using feedly for a few years.
Look into apps that limit facebook and other social media. I know they exist but I haven't used any. This article is from 2015 but it has some suggestions. I'm looking at twitter more than facebook now because it's easier to digest but I'm still limiting my use there.
How your phone can help. The iPhone has a "night mode" setting that makes the light warmer between 10pm and 7am. That's my cue to get off of the internet. Your smartphone may vary.
Limit your social media and news consumption while eating. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Spleen and Stomach are responsible for our digestion of food and also information. It is hard to digest both at the same time. As a result, reading or watching the news or social media while eating can lead to digestive issues. Also, the negative emotion associated with these organs is worry.
If you find it hard to do this at every meal, can you pick one meal or snack a day when you are simply eating? If you eat with friends or colleagues, can you agree not to talk about the news during your meal?
For activism, there are websites like:
I'm also on the mailing lists for causes I support, including my congresswoman and senators. I get notifications from them now of actions I can take.
Suggestions for facebook while you're on it:
Take the facebook app off of your phone. First, if you have it, take the facebook app off of your phone, that way you won't get notifications or be tempted to click on it. That also means every time you log in via a web browser is a conscious decision. When you're done, close the browser window, that way you won't be tempted to look if the window is open.
No facebook in bed. Since the election, I found that if I checked it in bed in the morning, I had a really hard time getting out of it.
Decide in advance how many times a day you're going to check facebook. I've chosen 3-5 per day (which is down from 25+). After a day, the urge to keep checking it will go down. I promise.
Set a timer if you have to. I usually check the notifications to see if there's anything important. Sometimes, that's all I check and then I log off.
Set up a list for the most important people you want to follow and go to that list first to see their posts. Then check pages you're an admin for and any events or groups. Just scrolling through your general newsfeed can be a rabbit hole. There is no end and you could follow links for hours.
Check: Have you gone over your time limit?
How are you?
Let your emotions be your guide. Facebook sucks us in and we can feel a range of very intense emotions. If you are feeling strong mood swings, log off and go for a walk, snuggle with your pets. If the mood swings don't go away, contact a health professional. Self-care is really important and maybe more so now.
In my Self-care for trauma and shock article, I touched on some of the basics of how we look at different emotions in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is a review of those associations with links to infographics and articles I've written so far:
- Grief, Trouble Letting Go – Lungs & Large Intestine, Metal element, Fall
- Fear – Kidneys & Urinary Bladder, Water element, Winter
- Anger – Liver and Gallbladder, Wood element, Spring
- Worry, Pensiveness – Spleen and Stomach, Earth Element, Late Summer
- Shock, Joy – Heart and its officials, Fire element, Summer
Start with checking in with yourself to see how you're doing. Can you identify one or more of these emotions? Sometimes, you're in shock or feeling numb and it may be hard to figure out what you're feeling. The RAIN meditation by Tara Brach is one way to get in touch with your emotions and feel where they are. The acronym stands for:
- Natural Loving Awareness/Non-identifying/Nourish and Rest
Here's a link to the written explanation of how to do the RAIN meditation. You can also find a guided version on the Buddhify app for Android and iOS. It's under the “Feeling Stressed” section on the actual app.
Next, there's a way to help you clear the negative emotions from your body through the Six Healing Sounds You can also hear musical interpretations of the Six Healing Sounds by composer Yuval Ron (or just ask me and I'll play them for you at my clinic).
We are living in difficult times. Social media gives us the chance to be connected to so many people. But being in a world that's virtually connected can also make us feel alone sometimes. You're not alone. Limiting our use of facebook and other social media can help us connect to ourselves. It also gives us the chance to really connect to the people in our lives who are most important to us.