Happiness Boost: Curate Your Social Media Feeds

Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. SnapChat. Etc. Whatever platform(s) you use on a regular basis, you probably spend more time on them than you’d like to admit (I know I do). If you’re like me, your social media feeds probably have a big impact on your mood (especially if you follow any news sites. ugh.). It’s not just the news, though. The posts from your friends and family (or even complete strangers) can put you in a bad mood, too. We’re constantly viewing everyone else’s highlight reel and wondering why our lives can’t be like that.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” –Theodore Roosevelt

We get stuck in a cycle of comparing our real lives to everyone else’s highlight reel, and that’s a surefire way to dampen your mood and make you feel like you don’t have enough, you’re not good enough, etc. The first step to a better experience on social media is understanding that few people show their real life on there. Some show their “behind-the-scenes” so people understand that the pretty Instagram photos don’t show everything, but many don’t. So you have to take everything you see and put it in perspective.

That food blogger who always takes pictures with perfect lighting on a marble countertop may have none of that. I’ve seen the behind the scenes of a few food bloggers who use a small piece of marble and set it up next to a window with lots of natural light to get the perfect shot.

Here’s the thing. You can’t let other people’s seemingly “perfect” photos keep you from sharing what you love. Who cares if you don’t have the perfect lighting or even a slab of marble or granite? Take your food pictures under your fluorescent lighting on your laminate countertop and be proud of your creation.

If what other people are posting affects your mood, however, it’s time to curate a social media feed that brings you joy instead of feelings of “not enough”. How do you curate your social media feeds? Here’s a few tips I’ve used myself to ensure when I log in to Instagram or Facebook, what I see generally makes me happier:

  1. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. Give yourself permission to unfollow any social media accounts that don’t bring you joy for whatever reason. On Facebook, you can unfollow people but still remain friends (so no one gets their feelings hurt). On Instagram, there’s not an option to stay “friends” when you unfollow, but sometimes unfollowing is the best thing you can do for yourself. If you’re real-life friends, great. Stay in touch–call, email, text, grab coffee, etc. But don’t follow them on social media if doing so makes you feel less than. For the people you don’t know in real life, well, don’t feel bad about unfollowing them.
  2. Connect with others who have similar goals. If your goal is to lose weight, connect with other people who want to lose weight. If you want to run a marathon, connect with other runners. If you want to save money, maybe unfollow those bloggers who are always posting about their new bags or shoes or whatever. Find bloggers who thrift or are always on the hunt for sales instead. For me, running, mental health, and eating healthy are all really important to me. So I’m friends with/follow other runners. I’m even in a couple runners’ groups on Facebook. I follow accounts on Instagram that regularly share self-care tips and ways to boost mental health. I follow a lot of accounts that are associated with the Whole30 in one way or another. My Instagram feed includes a lot of Whole30 recipes, kitchen and grocery shopping tips/hacks, and other healthy products. I don’t follow accounts like McDonald’s or bloggers who are constantly making choices that would not be healthy for me. I follow accounts that bring me joy and bring me closer to my goals.
  3. Set limits. For those accounts you just can’t unfollow for whatever reason, set limits. I still follow several news sites because I want to be informed. But I don’t let myself get lost in a sea of bad news. Instead I’ll read one or two news stories (and skim a few other headlines/snippets) before moving on to happier things, like posts about dogs or some new recipes to try. Unfortunately, there’s no easy “hack” for this. You have to have some self-control and know your own limits. I’m learning that when it comes to social media (at least for me), less is more. I’ve also implemented a social media “curfew” for myself recently. I stop checking/mindlessly scrolling through social media at 8pm every day. I’ve been doing this for over a month now and although there have been a few exceptions where I either forgot or lost track of time, I’ve stuck with it. Even better, it has helped. Quitting social media altogether or taking a hiatus (however long) just wasn’t realistic for me. But logging off by 8pm every night has been relatively easy. Plus, it gives me more time to wind down before bed.

Social media seems to be a blessing and a curse for most people. We’re more connected to others than ever, but it can also lead to feelings of isolation and “not enough”. Taking control of your social media feeds by changing who you follow and how you use it just might give you a happiness boost when you log in.

If you try any or all of these tips, let me know if they help! If you have any other tips to share, I’d love to hear them!

Missing Running

Things have been a little quiet on the blog lately, mostly because my personal life has been chaotic. I’ve been struggling both mentally and physically since I had to stop running over a month ago (chiropractor’s orders). I had plans to run a 10k at the end of May and that’s just not going to happen. Maybe if I got cleared to run in the next week I could pull off a 5k, but I think the 10k is out of reach at this point. So that’s frustrating.

On top of that, I really have had zero physical activity over the past month. I went to the gym once and did the elliptical and it was awful. Way worse than the “dreadmill”. So I’m not getting much exercise, I’ve been sore from my adjustments and muscle work at the chiropractor, and I feel like I’m not making much progress with it. My shoulder still hurts and although they tried to have me do exercises last week, I was so sore afterwards that they’ll probably delay those even longer.

I know it will eventually get better and I’ll be able to do more than I could do this time last year, but the waiting is hard. Especially since running was about so much more than staying in shape for me. First and foremost, it got me out of the house at least once every day (work from home problems). But it’s also an outlet for anger, frustration, sadness, writing blocks, and so much more. So now I have all these pent-up feelings and I don’t have a way to release them.

IMG_3169.jpgThe past month or so has been hard for lots of other reasons, too. My freelance work was slow for a while, which really stresses me out (and I couldn’t run to relieve that stress!). Then, my grandpa passed away, so I had to cut back on the little bit of work I did have so I could be with my family. It was all hard and exhausting, but the amount of people who came to the visitation and/or funeral was incredible and I’m so grateful to everyone who stood in line for almost an hour or more just to say hi and chat for a minute.

In spite of all the sadness and stress and exhaustion, good things are in the works. My freelance work is picking back up and I’ve got some promising full-time opportunities on the horizon as well. It’s been hard to stay positive lately, but I’m trying.

For now, I’m going to keep working hard, and maybe try to write a blog post more than once a month! I’ve got some other posts I’m working on so be on the lookout for those!

The End of an Era

My run streak has come to an end.

That probably sounds a little dramatic, but it’s how I feel right now. I finally went to see a chiropractor to find out if they could do anything to help with the shoulder pain I’ve been dealing with for over a year now. Turns out, my shoulder pain is probably the result of some neck problems, which were probably the result of one or more concussions I had in high school and college.

So the chiropractor is going to start working on my neck, which should relieve my shoulder pain and will probably help quite a few other issues I’ve had over the years. Unfortunately, that means ending my run streak. I asked him twice, just to make sure I actually had to end it. [And I thought briefly about continuing it anyway, but decided I’d rather be pain free and re-start my run streak at a later date.]

Not only do I have to end my run streak, but I can’t do many other physical activities either. He said I could still go to the gym and do things like the stationary bike or elliptical as long as I’m not moving my arms and I’m not hunched over. Those sound worse than the treadmill, to be honest. After about a week or two of adjustments, I should be able to start running again, but it will be a while before I’m doing upper-body work again (not that I was doing much to begin with).

So my 4.5 mile run on Tuesday was my last for a while. I made it 218 days and ran over 370 miles. That run streak pulled me out of a depression that had lasted most of last summer. It showed me just how strong I am. And it reminded me how much I love running. Over those 218 days and 370 miles, I got faster and ran farther.

Now I have to let it go and put my goals on hold. It’s frustrating to say the least. I’m trying to remind myself that a healthy, pain-free shoulder will be a good thing. Because eventually I’ll be able to do other exercises I haven’t done in over a year. Like yoga and lifting weights. I’ll eventually have some upper body strength again, which I completely lost over the past year. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally be able to achieve my goal of doing a headstand.

It was hard starting the past two days without a run. I’ve started the majority of the last 218 days that way and it’s been amazing. I’ve seen a lot of sunrises. I’ve run in the heat and freezing cold; in the snow and rain. I’ve put a lot of miles on my two pairs of running shoes, which are in dire need of retirement. I’ve found money on my runs and seen a car accident. I’ve run on vacations and overcame my hatred of the treadmill. I’ve run through soreness and head colds and on holidays and weekends. I’ve run through every possible excuse to not run.

It’s hard to let it go, even though it’s only for a week or two. But I know when I come back, I’ll make even bigger gains in my training. Once my shoulder is feeling better and I can start doing upper-body exercises again, I’ll be able to cross-train properly, which will make a huge difference in my endurance, speed, and overall strength.

Doing what’s right for your body isn’t always easy, but I’m choosing to take this time to rest and regroup so I can come back better than ever, even if I am starting over at day 1.

200 Days of Running!

Last Friday was a milestone: My run streak made it to day 200. As of today, I’m on day 206.

To be honest, there were times in the weeks leading up to that day I wasn’t sure I’d make it. I was having random pains. I was tired. I felt sluggish. But I pushed through to the other side, and here I am on day 206 feeling great again (and in need of new shoes!).

I’ve done things in last 200+ days I never thought I could. I’ve run at least a mile each day (though lately it’s at least 1.5 – 3 miles). I ran while I was on vacation. I ran 2 5ks and PR’d the second. My speed has improved. I’m training for a 10k (and eventually a half marathon!). I’ve been harassed.

I ran in single-digit temperatures. I ran in the snow on Christmas Eve. I ran on the treadmill at the gym when I could. not. take. the cold anymore. I’ve lost weight and I’ve got some definite muscle definition in my legs (eating Whole30 for the first 45 days of the year definitely helped in this department).

More important than the physical gains, however, is the mental strength I’ve gained. I’ve learned I can push through and keep going, even when things are hard, even when it hurts. I can do hard things and I can do them with confidence.

That strength and confidence has spilled over into other areas of my life. I’ve finally made both my mental and physical health a priority.  I’m asking for what I want. I have a more positive outlook, despite facing some serious obstacles and hardships. I know I’ll survive because I already know I can do hard things and I can keep going, even when it hurts.

I only wish I had started this run streak sooner. I feel like I have grown so much in the past 200 days. I’m physically and mentally stronger. I’m taking more risks and trying new things and getting out of my comfort zone. Running has done so much for me already. I can’t wait to see what the next 100 days bring.

Happy running!

Mindset Shift

I’ve been working on shifting my mindset a lot lately. I spend a lot of time worrying about horrible what-ifs and areas where things are lacking (ie I don’t have enough; I don’t make enough; etc.). To maintain a more positive mindset, I’ve been repeating a few mantras to myself lately:

  • Believe good things will happen and they will. 
  • I am enough. I have enough. 
  • Keep going. 

It’s an awful thing to believe you’re not good enough, and I’ve spent so much time believing that about myself. I’m choosing to focus on the good that could happen and I’m choosing to believe that I am enough.

Last week, thanks to this Instagram post, I added a new one to the rotation:

  • What do I have to lose? What’s the worst that could happen? 

It’s been a great reminder to take risks, particularly when I have nothing to lose and the worst that could happen is someone says “no”.

I’ve been looking for full-time jobs lately (and regular freelance work in the meantime). After applying for a full-time job with a company I was excited about working for, they unexpectedly asked if I’d be willing to start in a contract (ie freelance) position first. I immediately said yes because I’m excited about the company and position.

I didn’t negotiate rates at all. I just accepted the range they gave me. The last time I did that, things didn’t turn out well, and I’ve always regretted not negotiating for higher pay. So when they sent over the contract for this freelance position, there were a few concerning items, in addition to the low pay I had initially agreed to.

I felt a little strange negotiating rates after already verbally agreeing to what they offered. But I thought to myself, I have nothing to lose here. The worst that can happen is they say they can’t go any higher and won’t make changes to the contract, at which point I walk away. Sure, I’d be missing out on the possibility of it turning into a full-time position, but I wouldn’t be any worse off. I still have some steady freelance work and I’m still looking for other full-time jobs. 

So I went for it and asked for a higher hourly rate that better reflected my experience and what my target salary would be for a full-time position, in addition to the other changes I wanted to see in the contract. I didn’t hear back for over a week, so I assumed the “worst” had happened. I let it go and refocused my energy into looking for other jobs. Yesterday I finally got a response from them and they agreed to the higher rate and the other changes I had proposed.

Now I’m just waiting to see the final draft of the contract so I can sign it and get to work. I feel so great for “leaning in” and asking for what I wanted and needed. This time last year (heck even just a few months ago), I might not have had the guts to do that. I’ve been working really hard to have a more positive attitude about life in general and I’ve been taking more risks, both personally and professionally. Hopefully this is the start of all that hard work paying off!

Have you taken any risks lately? Did they pay off? How do you maintain a positive attitude—or is that something you struggle with like me?