Scroll Free September
Way back in August (doesn’t that seem FOREVER ago!?) we were approached by Royal Society of Public Health to be an ambassador for their incredible Scroll Free September campaign. This campaign, the first of it’s kind in the country, has specific aims of getting us out of the “scroll hole” and taking a moment to reflect on our screen time. With mental health problems across the board on the rise - particularly in the younger, most tech-savvy generations - social media has been getting a lot of stick for the impact it’s having on our lives. What Scroll Free September promises is an opportunity to take stock of the boundaries we have in place and have a hard reset on our on/off-line balance.
As someone who has struggled with her mental health most of her adult life and makes no secret of her experiences, grown up with Facebook and now works in the world of digital; it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss out on. Obviously, the additional exposure for Rock Rose Digital, certainly in the the field of digital mental health was inviting; but I was more curious about the personal journey this challenge would take me on.
With 5 different options to choose from Scroll Free September was a really flexible and accessible campaign. You could opt to go for the full cold turkey with no mobile phone or computer access to social media, down to switching off in work or school. For me, I chose ‘Sleeping Dog’ which was to encourage not taking your phone into your bedroom whilst sleeping. So, I bought an alarm clock, moved my charger into the living room (as far away from the bedroom so I couldn’t be tempted) and I was OFF!
Initially, no issues. I actually relished and took a lot of pleasure in tucking my phone in at night (so to speak) and leaving it in another room whilst I went to bed. Straight away, I definitely noticed an improvement in my quality of sleep and in the amount of time it took me to nod off.
The first ‘wobble’ happened when I was struggling with a bit of anxiety, probably over-tired, not drunk enough water and couldn’t get to sleep, probably about a week in. So I sneaked into the living room, under the cover of darkness like the cat burglar so not to wake my partner. I got my phone and took it back to bed with me - only to play a podcast with my headphones on, in the hope it’d settle me to sleep. Worked perfectly and I wasn’t tempted to delve into any other apps.
All carried on as normal for another week, until I noticed - the issue wasn’t necessarily with my night-time routine. I was pretty good at not having my phone with me at night and it was happening naturally every night, no bother. The issue was the mornings. I’d get up and straight away I’d pick up my phone, checking on my own social accounts as well as my clients. By the time that was done for all accounts - business, personal and 10 clients, on all platforms, the impulse was to go back and do it all again. And so, down the rabbit hole of social media I’d fall and it’d be a trap it’d be stuck in for the rest of the day. Trying to work, I’d be easily distracted, picking up my phone repeatedly to see how well a certain scheduled Instagram post was doing, or if there was a new relevant blog I could RT for a client.
This behaviour leaked into my weekends, and I noticed it completely stealing my attention from what was happening in the moment. Aimless scrolling, missing near entire episodes of whatever I’d been watching with my partner with him reluctantly catching me up. Of course, I’d brush it off under the ruse of “it’s work”. But most of time, it wasn’t at all.
Girl to (I presume if you’re reading this) girl…Normally around the time of my monthly visit from “aunt flo” (TMI, SORRY!), my mental health takes a little dip. Nothing major, but something I’ve learnt to manage and prepare for over the years. By the time September’s came round, this rabbit hole social media cycle was FIRMLY established. So not only was it sapping a lot of time and attention, now, my slightly more delicate and impressionable period brain was slipping into a world of comparison and imposter syndrome. As if PMT wasn’t bad enough already!
This was a huge wake up call for me. It wasn’t the night times I should have been worried about. It’s the day times! Starting off my day giving my attention to the demands and needs of others was a doorway to downward spiralling portal without an end.
So, what have I done about it? At night now, I don’t just put my phone in another room. I make sure it’s on aeroplane mode and it doesn’t come off until I’ve done what I need to do to set myself up for the day in the morning. I’ve never been good at morning routines. 12 years in hospitality has had my body clock all over the place. But slowly, I’m establishing a loose agenda of herbal tea, meditation and breakfast - with no scrolling in sight! One of my HerStory guests Kat Horrocks discusses this on her podcast with Celynn Morin (LISTEN HERE) - something I’ve been re-listening to a lot recently as a source of motivation in getting my own agenda sorted. That first hour of the day being key to sorting your own s**t out before allowing anyone or anything else interrupt.
I probably would have come to this realisation at some point. But without participating in Scroll Free September, having that focus and time of reflection on my screen time, I doubt I would have come to it so quickly; nor put in new plans and agendas so swiftly and firmly. Plans which I’m extremely determined in maintaining.
Next Wednesday, 10th October is World Mental Health Day. I’ll be running a live Q&A session on Facebook at 3.00pm with a focus on Digital First Aid/Self Care. So if you have any questions you’d like to see me answer, please get in touch! Also, don’t forget to put it in your diary to tune in! It’s the first EVER live session I’ve ever done, so would be great to get some support.