Eddie Rangel | The Poly Post

Unplugging to recharge: The toll social media took on my socially distanced lifestyle

March 12 seems like a lifetime ago. So much has changed since that last day of in-person classes. At the time, I remember telling my classmates that even if Cal Poly Pomona were shut down past spring break, we would at least come back at the end of the spring semester for finals week.

It is now late August, and there seems to be no end in sight. COVID-19 has changed all our lives in ways that we never could have predicted. I spent most of my time between the months of March through July at home; it began to take its toll.

(Eddie Rangel | The Poly Post)

Most of my social interaction during those months happened through a screen, which is simply not as fulfilling as talking to someone face to face.

Social media became a lifeline for me to stay informed and remain connected. However, the longer that the pandemic raged on, the more I realized how unhealthy social media was for me.

There are many benefits to social media; I will not deny that. It allowed me to stay in touch with many people that I had not seen in months, and it provided a way for me to get updates on the pandemic.

However, I also believe that it is very easy to go overboard and remain trapped in the digital world, especially without the option of activities outside the home. I realized that I needed to disconnect for my own mental health, and I began to feel much better once I unplugged myself from the world of social media.

One of the best things I did was also the simplest—­I put my phone down in another room and left it there for a few hours. It was liberating.

A constant struggle of getting off my phone was simply putting it down. Once I wasn’t constantly tuned into it, I realized how much better I felt; I actually wanted to stay off my phone longer.

Once I had completed this very simple but vital task, I was able to focus on activities that didn’t involve social media. I found that the most productive and helpful activity that I used to relax while staying at home was reading.

When I would sit on the couch with my phone, my mind would wander, and I would just flick through apps without paying any real attention to what I was doing. When I was reading, however, I was able to keep my mind focused.

Reading is a terrific way to transport yourself someplace else, and just get lost in another world for a few hours. Whenever I would finish reading, I would feel incredibly refreshed, because I had been productive while relaxing at the same time.

Another incredibly rewarding activity that I made a part of my daily routine was exercise. Although it seemed difficult at first, having a daily exercise routine was a great way to keep myself active while also continuing to socially distance. I would jog around the neighborhood and just get lost in the activity—another great way to take my mind off the pandemic.

Finally, there was one activity above all that really made a difference in my daily routine, and it is probably the simplest. Every morning when I woke up, I would make the bed. It’s a simple activity, taking less than a minute. However, making the bed every morning drastically changed my outlook on the day and improved my mood.

Making the bed is the least challenging thing I could possibly do but starting my mornings off by accomplishing this simple and easy task, helped to motivate me throughout the day to continue to stay on a schedule and accomplish other things. By starting my day off with a simple but mandatory task, it helped put me in the headspace to follow through with other tasks and not just slip into a completely lazy state.

Although we are living in uncertain times and none of us know what the future will hold, incorporating these activities into my daily routine helped me to create a small sense of normalcy. Social media can be a great way to keep in touch while still adhering to social distancing practices. However, unplugging from my phone was the first and most necessary step to completing these simple tasks. This self-discipline helped me to stay in a routine and build some structure to my day. In doing so, I was able to have some semblance of calm during an unprecedented time.

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