Everything In Moderation

In an effort be more present and less distracted both in my professional and personal lives, I have been cutting back on my social media usage. I’m a rebellious person even when I make the rules, so anytime I’m dealing with addictions I know in order to be successful I have to strike the balance between self indulgence and self denial. For Facebook, that means taking the app off my phone and forcing myself to use my laptop or the web browser on my phone which isn’t as polished or easy to navigate.

Social media is the latest in a series of comforts I’ve sought throughout my life to escape reality and medicate my depression and anxiety. Like many people who deal with mental health issues, I have an addictive personality. In the past I’ve used food, alcohol, cigarettes, recreational drugs, video games, exercise, sex, relationships, my career, my phone and even religion to self medicate. I am confident I will continue to find new ways in the future. I suppose what distinguishes me from “an addict” is that I do not have to stop using completely to gain control.

As a former dieter I grew up hearing “everything in moderation” in regards to food, but the older I get the more I see how this motto applies to life in general. Too much of anything is, well, too much! We all know balance is what we should seek. So why do so many people have such a problem with moderation?

My take? We’re anxious as hell, and technology has only made that worse. Through our phones we are CONSTANTLY inundated with notifications and headlines about terrifying and tragic events in our country, world, and climate. I care deeply about feminism and issues of social justice, but for my mental health I’ve had to limit my news consumption. The only thing that works to get me back to my present reality is mindfulness. I use my senses to notice what I see, hear, feel, smell and taste. I calm the tornado of thoughts by putting my full attention on my breath and body. And then I ask myself what I *really* need in that moment: sleep, food, water, or maybe to be alone or connect with a friend and then do my best to give myself what I need. It gives me something to do when I feel helpless or hopeless and never fails to make me feel better. Try it!

A couple of days after I deleted the FB app, I put it back on my phone. Two hours later I deleted it again. I told you I’m a rule breaker.  Maybe “work in progress” is a more compassionate term.

Kathleen Schwarz