5 Things Vacation Will Teach You About A Break From Social Media

Internet Free VacationHow is it the last week of August? I mean, really.... where has summer gone?

Not that I am entirely sad though. I always enjoy the beginning of summer and then eventually want a 'start fresh' with September since fall is my favourite season.

I recently blogged that I enjoyed a week of vacation to Manitoba/Kenora/Lake-of-the-Woods (wish I could go back!) and that due to no internet connection while on holidays, I didn't have access to email or social media.

Considering social media is what I do for a living, having no access to it seemed like a problem .....  or so I thought. 

After a few days of worry and not knowing what to do with my phone (it is normal to have the shakes at first when you're on withdrawl, right?!) I finally adapted to what life felt like without a phone. And man did it ever feel good! So good in fact that I wanted to share with you in this separate post, the reasons why it was so refreshing to step back from social media and take a break from it when its something you do for a living.

Ironically, I read this article before I left about why you shouldn't check email while on vacation and I can honestly say, a week without social media/email was one of the healthiest breaks I've taken in a long time.

When I try and think of when the last time was that I didn't have access to internet on my phone at my fingertips, the last time was 2009 when I travelled to Europe. Yes we had cellphones (flip phones back then.. does that date me or what?!) but you couldn't use them overseas as I suspect you can now with smartphones. I remember leaving my cellphone at home at the time thinking, well, the only way I can communicate to let people still know I was alive was through quick and costly collect calls or my laptop. The only way I could get access to wifi on my laptop while travelling was going to an internet cafe or paying an arm and a leg at the hostels I stayed at to connect to wifi.

My recent vacation made me realize just how dependent we are as social media users, especially since we as Canadians spend the most time on the internet than any other country in the western world.

[Tweet ""Canadians spend the most time on the internet than any other country in the western world.""]

So what were those 5 things vacation taught me about a break from social media?

  1. Social media networks don't justify that you 'lived' through something - Just because you didn't document the moment or snap a photo to share with your network(s) of something you are experiencing that you think is cool, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Savour those moments with those around you and those your spending time with so you can truly be 'in the moment,' rather than thinking about what angle would be best for the best photo op.
  2. Set boundaries to not miss out on life moments -  If it is imperative that you be on social media during say long weekends, camping adventures, holidays, etc.... try and ask yourself if it is really necessary to bring the phone along with you. Set boundaries to your social media use - as an example, only check social media once or twice a day so you feel like you are in control of your social media habits, not the other way around.
  3. Use social media with intention and a purpose - This was probably the biggest lesson I learned while on vacation and then reconnecting after a week away. Was I really using social media for the right reasons before I left and in the most strategic way possible? Was I using it for professional reasons with a hint of 'personal' in there or was I just browsing social media to fill time that I should have otherwise been 'guarding.' Since returning, I've downloaded the app Moments to keep track of how much time I'm spending on my phone and on social media apps so I can cut back intentionally and use social media more purposefully.
  4. Choose to follow social media users and content that will better your life - After returning from holidays and catching up on things I seemed to have 'missed' while I was away, it was interesting to see how others chose to spend their time on a long-weekend in August and not for professional development or purposes that bettered them. It made me take a second look at the people and brands I follow and the type of content I am constantly indulging in to make sure that the people I follow and the content I consumer on social media channels adds value to my day whether it be from a personal standpoint (a funny laugh, a cute outfit, a good read, seeing other's adventures and obviously my friend's) and from a professional development standpoint (articles on social media, millennials, leadership, agriculture/food, business, #girlbosses, etc)
  5. See social media for what it is - likes don't justify the means - My biggest takeaway from a social media free week? That I can still live and exist in a world without social media. While I may have felt like I was missing out at the beginning, the guilt eventually passed and I realized how amazing it felt to really 'live' without having likes justify the means of what I was doing each day. Being in control and having the power to put my phone down was empowering!

I'm proud to say that since returning home from vacation, I've made a more conscious effort throughout August to only post when I felt like I had something to say and not just sit around browsing my social media channels.

This new intention and purpose I'm using with social media has felt so good. Try it with me! 

[Photo Source]

Where is the Pause Button At?

Say it with me... where is 2016 going?! Can we just push the pause button so we can slow this year down? And then on the other hand, I think of all the things I've did so far in 2016 and I'm not surprised we're already into August.

2016 has been an incredible year of travelling and 'firsts' for me including trips and experiences enjoyed in Mont Tremblant, Quebec; Banff, Alberta; wine tours to NOTL and discovering new little towns across Ontario like Jordan. And there are so many more towns and adventures I want to see and do before the summer begins to wind down.

My husband and I typically get a chance to visit my in-laws over the holidays back home in Manitoba but this summer, we were able to head to the prairies to take in the beauty of the western skies and canola/sunflower fields during the beautiful summer months.

Another first I got to experience with my in-laws was visiting their cottage on Lake-of-the-Woods near Kenora, Ontario. The views were spectacular.. as fellow blogger and friend Jen commented on my social media accounts when I posted the top photo, it looks like a photo from the group of even artists. Experiencing the beauty of the wilderness in the heat of the summer was so refreshing.

One of the best parts about my recent trip to Manitoba and cottaging in northern Ontario, besides seeing family and friends of course, was enjoying Lake-of-the-Woods and the outdoors without internet connection. I'll blog about this in a follow up post to elaborate more but the thrill of not having to answer emails and social media accounts was a healthy blessing in disguise for a society of people that now depend on these devices and mediums to keep us stimulated throughout the day.

Because of that, I was able to fish, canoe, finish the summer-fiction best seller 'The Nest' in two days, enjoy Ontario craft beer at the local famous brewhouse, Lake of the Woods Brewing Company, hike to Rushing River provincial park, and see the Northern Lights for the first time in my life! The pictures don't do these moments justice.

Hope you all are enjoying this beautiful summer... I think I can smell fall in the air already!

 Manitoba 2016

Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries

Hope you are enjoying your coffee this morning like I am, how awesome are Saturday mornings?!

Something I've gotten A LOT better at in 2016  (there is always still room for improvement, of course!) is trying to set more healthy boundaries in both my personal and professional life. It dawned on me over the holidays at the end of 2015 that the insanity that is life, will always be this crazy and insane. Its how you manage it and decide to make it as crazy/insane (in a fun way!) that will dictate how much of the journey you enjoyed in life.

I realized that if I continually take on more activities, to-do's, say yes to too many things, push myself TOO far and TOO hard, burn the candle from both ends and don't refuel and recharge myself, then it is a recipe for disaster. I really am a 'work hard, play hard' type of person but at what point do you decide that you are over-doing everything and not really enjoying anything? Its something ask yourself.. something I'm glad I did at the end of 2015.

In an effort to try and help myself, I proactively decided it was time to set better boundaries to everything I was doing, both at work, at home, with The Passionate Voice and in my extra-curriculars. I have taken small steps to create some helpful boundaries that really do add up to more free time throughout my day resulting in feeling a lot more productive and purposeful at the end of the day. If you're in the same position as I am and need some quick and actionable steps to feel like you're making changes that will help,  try one (or all) of these changes I've made and let me know what you think!

10 Steps I've Taken to Set Healthy Boundaries in 2016

  1. Removing Facebook from my phone as an app
  2. Not checking social media as often as I do (even though it sometimes kills me to miss certain conversations online, its not life or death so I'm fine!)
  3. Use social media more purposefully - setting scheduled tweets/posts and using it in a more professional/productive manner rather than just wasting time on it
  4. Creating a 'To Read' folder in my inbox and setting it up so all of the subscriptions/eBlasts I subscribe too automatically go into the folder for me to read at a determined time
  5. Using 3 methods to capture all of my blog reading I like to do by using Feedly, Pocket, and creating a Microsoft OneNote for all the articles I want to save and reference for future use
  6. Limiting the number of blogs I follow and read - this one has been hard because I've been a loyal blog reader for 10+ years  to many blogs but there comes a time where only the blogs of most value and the ones that are the funnest to read are what I consider the most enriching so I've got 100+ blogs down to under 25!
  7. Creating a reading schedule so I only check and use these 3 above mentioned platforms and read from my 'To Read' email folder once a week. I have apps on my iPhone and desktop so I can easily save articles of interest, but I only read them at a scheduled time slot every Monday morning.
  8. Going to bed earlier and (really) making a conscious effort to not use my phone before bed
  9. Working out more - this has seriously changed how healthy not only my body is but my mind as well - I have felt so much sharper and fresher since I started working out on a regular basis again.
  10. Taking planned days off and getting outdoors where I don't plan anything; don't open up my laptop to send one last email and try and get outdoors to do something fun (since I spend a lot of my time indoors during the week)
[Photo Source]