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Because of this quarantine/shelter-in-place/isolation/“house arrest” (as one friend calls it lol), we are prone (as we humans are) to get into harmful habits when under pressure and stress and uncertainty.

I’m saying this because of the tendency I personally fall into if I’m not painfully and carefully aware of myself.

Be very careful not to spend your day scrolling, scrolling, scrolling through your social media feed…whatever it may be. Doesn’t matter if it’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (which one author I heard this morning described it as currently becoming a “dumpster fire”). It is a very easy habit to get into when we’re just unsure what to do with our time. After all, this is uncharted territory for some of us.

I believe that we tend to scroll and scroll and scroll because we’re looking for a connection…any kind of connection that we can grab onto. We’re looking for any kind of good news; we’re looking for hope; we’re looking for something—anything—to take our minds off of our current circumstances.

We look at all the things: all the memes, all the celebrities, all the “lives,” all the articles, all the posts, all the words, all the everythings! Stop it!

That’s so dangerous, my friends. We get sucked into a rabbit hole like Alice…into everyone else’s life…which is honestly no more better nor put together than our own, even though we imagine that it is.

Are there wise people out in the social media world that have words of truth and encouragement and hope for us? Of course there are! But they’re not going to be found by the “wheel of fortune” scrolling that we’re doing. They are specific people and specific accounts that are offering that kind of hope: positive family and friends, your local church and its leaders, authors and teachers of wise words, etc. You know who they are. Find them…and follow them.

Here is my suggestion. And this is something I try to do every 6 months or so. I go through my different social media platforms and I do one of these three things:

UNFRIEND/UNFOLLOW/UNSUBSCRIBE

Nobody is making us be friends with, follow or subscribe to anything or anyone that we’re currently friends with, follow or subscribe to. We get to decide what we read. We get to decide who we listen to. We get to decide who to learn from and who to follow.

Our eyes and ears are the inputs to our hearts and minds…what we see/read and what we listen to greatly determines the health of our spirit. That’s just God’s honest truth, right there. So please be very picky and discerning about the voices that you’re allowing into your life.

This uncertain season we’re in right now is a very loud season—so much input, so many “experts,” so many voices and opinions and warnings and projections and reports and numbers and statistics and graphs and charts…that can all lead to more fear, panic, despair, etc.

Here is a question that will help us decide who to unfriend, who/what to unfollow and what to unsubscribe from.

Are the people you’re friends with and the people/accounts you’re following impacting you in positive ways? Do you feel empowered and encouraged and inspired by the words they write and the way they live/think/interact? Are you able to learn from their beliefs, wisdom and experience?

Be careful to most closely follow people who inspire you toward hope and encouragement, toward kindness, prayer and faithfulness, generosity, creativity and brave actions…and especially good humor. Laughter is so important during these days. And it’s more than okay to laugh!

Don’t follow people (even friends) who stir up your fear, depression, anger, anxiety and panic. Many of our “friends” on social media are only our friends because we met them one time at that one place and they said that one thing we liked. Or we’ve known them and their family a very long time and if we weren’t FaceBook friends, it would hurt somebody’s feelings. 

(And don’t forget that the number of friends you have on FaceBook is no indicator of your worth, your popularity or your happiness. It’s simply a number!)

If that’s the case, it’s perfectly ok to “unfriend” them. Remember, you are looking after your heart and mind; you’re protecting and caring for your spirit. 

If you don’t want to go so far as to unfriend, that’s ok. There is always the option of “unfollow.” They won’t even know that you’re not following them, but you won’t be an unwilling, uninvited party to their negativity and unwise whatevers.

Is it time to create a little more space and silence and sanity in your own corner of the internet? I challenge you to unfriend/unfollow/unsubscribe from anyone or anything that feeds your anxiety, your fear, your panic. And add some people or accounts who are brave and kind, Biblical, true, encouraging, hopeful and outreaching…who make you want to be more courageous, who teach you something you’d never have known otherwise. 

The internet is simply a tool. We get to decide how to use it for good in our lives and in our communities. Let’s choose wisely.

(And if you need to, disconnect completely from your social media accounts for a period of time. That’s the surest way to avoid additional stress and will allow your heart and mind and emotions to withdraw and heal.)

Instead of scroll/scroll/scrolling, here’s a long list of other ways to spend your time. Put your phone/pad/computer away (like in a locked box, if you must) and:

Listen to Rapunzel’s song about isolation in a castle
Rest
Make a gratitude list
Go for a walk
Read
Sit outside
Bake
Reach out to someone living alone
Write in a journal
Write a poem
Play games with your kids
Assemble a puzzle
Organize the pantry
Learn (or relearn) to play an instrument
Watch your favorite movie
Color in a coloring book
Write actual hand-written letters to family and friends.
Write thank-you notes to service people
Organize your food storage containers
Learn to knit or crochet
Listen to the happiest, danciest songs you can think of
Women, go through and get rid of all of your old/unused beauty products
Men, go through all of your tools and gadgets (organize them or give away multiples)
Call your grandparents (you’re blessed if you still can)
Go through your camera/computer pictures and delete unneeded/repeat photos
Go ahead and finish your taxes now
Learn a new dance
Grow a killer beard…moisturize it, comb it, groom it, love it
Practice writing with your non-dominant hand
Do stretches to release the tension in your neck and shoulders (YouTube)
Plan and/or plant (if it’s time) your flower garden
Try moving in   s l o w   m o t i o n   for a while…and laugh about it
Practice using Old English words…grab a Jane Austen book and get after it
Do deep-breathing exercises

But above all, discover new Scriptures…and pray. Keep building into your relationship with God. Don’t waste this extra time that’s been granted to us to grow and learn and thrive.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Here’s a PS,  my friends: Sweet, loving, well-meaning family and friends will send/forward you texts, emails, private messages, videos, articles, etc. that, if we’re not careful, can cause us to be yanked back down into sadness, fear and depression…and a rise in our cortisol. If you are able, politely ask them to refrain from sending you anything, especially if you are bent toward negative thoughts. If you aren’t able to ask them, then glance at the attachment and move right on along if it looks like something that will do more harm than good. Shalom!

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