How To Keep Your Sanity Online

Jim Woods by Kari Shea on Unsplash

The internet is a lot like high school. There’s the cool kids (popular blogs and internet famous people), the jocks (sports junkies), the nerds (tech lovers) and the band geeks (musicians). And all of these groups come together online.

When you feel like you don’t fit in anywhere, it gets really lonely.

Judgment from a faceless crowd stings.

You may even feel like a loser.

But know you’re not alone — not by a long shot.

Something inside longs for continual praise — especially online.

Seeking approval is completely normal, but what if the only REAL approval that matters is from those you love?

“You can’t please everyone, and you can’t make everyone like you.”
— Katie Couric

On many days, our worth is mistakenly measured by claps, read time, views, likes, or web traffic.

A retweet equals a smile, so obviously silence or any hint of negative feedback brings a frown.

People pleasing and comparison with others kills dreams and drains the joy out of life.

You may think I’m being overly dramatic — but I promise I’m not.

Continual comparison stops growth and progress.

Envy kills creativity.

So what can be done about this problem? Well, here are three things you can do — and I included several links for apps and plugins here — all with free trials! Here are three ways to keep your sanity.

1. Limit The Time You Spend Online.

Know how much time you are actually spending online. To really stay on top of things, get a plug in like Time Tracker and pay attention to the numbers.

And don’t forget the phone. Moment is a app for iOS which helps you be aware of how much you are using your iPhone or iPad. It even offers a family option so you can know how much time is being spent on other devices.

When you know how much time you spend online, then you can start to look at the data. The cool thing about data is that it is not emotion driven. It won’t lie to you. It’s like looking at a historical document that simply recorded the time you were doing something. Emotions get fuzzy and can mislead you. Emotions can even lead you to tell yourself a story.

2. Avoid Known Problematic Areas.

Spending too much time on any specific websites? Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter are my main distractions. You already know which websites are problems for you; get a plug in like Stayfocusd to keep you on track.

Got some negative friends? Avoid them like the plague. Your attitude will improve dramatically. The Debbie downers and Donald downers are draining your joy and mental energy more than you think.

Afraid that you’ll burn bridges or hurt relationships? I get that. Here’s the thing, some people act differently online than they do in real life. Maybe you just hide them or unfollow them but keep in touch in another way. Use your best judgement and be honest with yourself. Mental load is real. Your mental health is very important, so take good care of yourself.

3. Set Goals That Fit What You Want.

To accomplish the goal of having less stress and craziness, you have to customize your goal so it fits what you really want. Ask these questions and be honest with yourself:

  • What do you really want to do?
  • What are your goals? Why do they matter?
  • Are these things in sync with your priorities and values?

Now go do that.

A while ago, I read some great words by Emily Freeman.

I will tell stories.
I will be myself.
I will write to connect, not compete.
I will remember fear is a normal part of the process, but courage gets the final say.
I will not be a jerk.

Pretty incredible right?

I want to do all of these and also be more honest with every word I write. No more acting like I’ve got it all together. More raw, less filtered and less censored. This is an important part of honing my voice as a writer. Calling a spade a spade is something I do in real life; I want to do this more with my writing.

Now, It’s Your Turn

What are some things you want to do maintain sanity online? I recommend following the steps above to stay on track. Here’s a quick recap:

  1. Limit the time you spend online. Use some tools to help with this or you likely won’t do it.
  2. Avoid your known problematic areas. You already know what those are. Be honest with yourself and do something about these areas. This step alone is a game-changer.
  3. Set the goals that fit what you want. Focus on your strengths and your values.

Don’t give up. It’s hard to keep things in check online. Don’t accept being busy all the time and never resting. Focus on what matters most to you. Build the life you want to live, not a life that is right for someone else.

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