Social Media Overwhelm!

Social Media Overwhelm! I didn't even want to get out of bed today... Here's the plan to minimize the overwhelm and set better boundaries going forward.I hit a wall this week. Total overwhelm.

In typical ADHD fashion, I over-did the very things that were exciting me and energizing me until I felt like I wanted run and hide from everything. I love blogging. I love writing and networking and sharing stories and ideas and feeling like I’m helping others. And I’ve been working on a post series for another site on making the best use of Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, so I could rationalize all the time I spent on my phone sharing and chatting…

You can see where this is going, can’t you?

Over the last week or two, I noticed I started feeling differently about the beeps my phone made. It was no longer exciting; it was more like a task to attend to. I wanted to be responsive to any comments left on my Facebook page, and I didn’t want to ignore any Tweets… but I felt this pressure to check the messages even when I was trying to focus on work, even during family time.

It should be simple, right? Turn off notifications, Carolyn! Just look later! But it is not that simple. There is a reason ADHD people are more susceptible to internet and gaming addiction. Responding to those pings gives us a rewarding dopamine release, something our ADHD brains really dig.  We’re like well-trained rats responding to our mobile phones.

So I was thinking a lot about how much time I spend on social media “investing in my blog,” and between my computer and my phone, it’s too much. The reality is, with the advent of apps like Tailwind and Hootsuite, there’s no reason for it. I could easily schedule time once a day to respond to any messages, and set aside time once a week to schedule pins and posts.

How much time could I recoup to give back to my family, to catch up on other things?

I have been feeling really overwhelmed, and that’s a cycle you don’t want to get caught up with if you have ADHD.  You start getting behind on housework and grocery shopping, then you aren’t eating well, your to-do list grows longer, you start feeling terrible about yourself, you become less and less able to cope… I know we’ve all been there.

Jennifer Koretsky, author of Odd One Out: The Maverick’s Guide to Adult ADD, describes it perfectly as “The Cycle of Overwhelm:“

You wake up in the morning feeling completely overwhelmed by all the things you have to do. You spend your entire day thinking about all those things, and trying to get them all done. Your stress builds throughout the day as more and more gets added to your to-do list and little, if any, gets crossed off. You go to bed feeling even more stressed out, and then you wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Eventually, the stress gets to you and you burn out. Then you find yourself spending your entire day thinking about all those things you have to do, but feeling paralyzed and unable to even get started.

Yeah, that’s me. I spent my Saturday this weekend paralyzed. Then to top it off, I woke up today (grabbing my cell phone first thing because that’s what a well-trained rat I am) and the very first thing I read was a message from a reader who felt the need to tell me how much he didn’t like one of my posts and how I’m basically just a fraud.  Way to greet the morning, eh?

I felt like maybe I should just pack it in and quit blogging (because I’m sensitive and I have been known to overreact).

But then I realized: I need to set better boundaries!

Why would I wake up first thing in the morning and let a total stranger into my bedroom to tell me what he thinks about me? And why would I keep opening the door (my phone) every time someone knocks when I’m busy working or making dinner or taking a bath or in bed or every other time I keep responding to the bings my phone makes?

It’s about more than just quitting my dependence on the dopamine fix. I need to set some business hours and protect myself and my family so I can avoid burnout… or else it won’t be long before I do close up shop!

I spent some time thinking about this today, and not only do I think most of my readers would totally understand where I’m coming from on this, I thought that many of you would appreciate the reminder: it’s hard to be mindful about where we spend our time and attention.

And it’s hard to notice when the overwhelm starts keeping up. For some reason, I almost never notice it until I have a crying fit. Then suddenly: There it is! It’s like: I’m going, going, going… Oh, I think I’m doing too much! Get me offa this ride!

So my plan is this: I will be more thoughtful going forward about scheduling time to check on my social media accounts, even if it means I won’t be as quick to respond. Instead, I’ll spent more time writing here (because heaven knows I should reclaim a lot of time!), and maybe  being open about this will help me be accountable.

I even downloaded an app to help me with this: Quality Time for Android. It tracks the number of times I open my lock screen and how much time I spend on my phone, broken down by app. That should be a reality. check! Maybe I’ll do a post update. Yikes!!


Photo: Unsplash

Disclosure: One of the links in the post above are affiliate links (the book). This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission that helps support the site. I only link to products or services that I use or am very familiar with and that I would personally recommend to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

About Carolyn

I'm Carolyn Mallon, RN, and I have ADHD. I'm also parenting at least one ADHD child, so it makes for quite an adventure! I don't have all the answers, but I certainly share the challenges of many ADHD parents! I started this blog as an exercise to help us improve our game at home and at school. Join us!

9 comments on “Social Media Overwhelm!

  1. I can’t agree with you more! Setting boundaries is unbelievably tough, especially with that reward that comes from getting new notifications. I’ve had to actually put my phone on airplane mode or even purposely ‘forget’ it, just to get a break from notifications and checking social media. As much as I want to keep blogging, I need to try to stop focussing on it. I’m sure I currently spend around 95% of my day either checking my phone, writing, or thinking about it. Not good!

  2. Yeah, sounds about right. Of course, immersing yourself in social media or even just websurfing can also be an avoidance behavior if there’s something in your real life that you want an excuse not to deal with. For example, I just finished washing and hanging all my fabric (cat pee. . .) and now I’m ready to take my new measurements on my significantly larger body and make myself some clothes. But here I am!

    • Hi Alison. I do think the avoidance is a factor. I work from home, and I get anxious a lot, whether it;s because I have a lot of work, or because I don’t have an assignment and I’m worried about that!!! The irony! And then I avoid housework… and the stress of the kids and the rationalization that I’m taking a break from all the stress and anxiety! hahaha

      And what is it about cat pee?! I HATE cat pee more than any other thing on this planet, I sweartogod! I can smell it a mile off and it’s like nails on chalk board (because I grew up in a house full of cat pee, I think).
      Carolyn recently posted…Social Media Overwhelm!My Profile

  3. I think we all need to set those boundaries. I don’t have ADHD, but I definitely spend too much time on social media and on my phone, and I’m very susceptible to the paralyzing overwhelm. I love the idea of setting hours to check social media, and hours to be on the phone for whatever reason. I definitely need to do that too.

    Penny Williams
    Author of “What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD” and “Boy Without Instructions”
    Parent of preteen with ADHD, Autism, and LDs
    pennywilliams recently posted…The grass isn’t greener over there: Parenting Hack #2My Profile

    • Hey Penny. You should check out this Quality Time app. It’s very enlightening. It also have a cool function to set “family times” where it will block out all notifications and/or calls (but you can set certain numbers to ring through) and it will save the notifications for you to check after the time is up. It helps to respect you own predetermined quality time… I’m doing an audit of how much time I spend on my phone now, but that’s the next step… it seems like a useful (free) app…

      Yeah, I think many of us (ADHD or now) have this issue. 🙂
      Carolyn recently posted…Social Media Overwhelm!My Profile

  4. I truly believe that as much as social media helps us grow and succeed it also hurts us. I love it for the way I can connect with people but I hate it for the way some of those people feel it is necessary to behave. I love it for the way I can connect with businesses but hate it for the way some of those businesses then start blasting me with offers. I can’t jump onto every new app that comes out and think it is going to save me time and money and I definitely don’t have the bandwidth for things that move so quickly in front of my eyes (ie Twitter and Snapchat) that I start to feel dizzy. It’s all just exhausting and instead of feeling like we have more control we actually have less. . .as I sit here on my computer with 18 screens open 🙂
    Beth recently posted…Social Media: The Great Uniter and DividerMy Profile

    • Oh my gosh yes! I always seem to have a million things going on at once! And I out this imaginary pressure on myself to respond ASAP! Then facebook has this little reminder:

      100% response rate, day or more to respond.
      Respond faster to turn on the icon.

      So apparently, because I didn’t email someone back one time (because I texted them back, actually- it was a friend), I now have a slow response indicator! Argh! What pressure! lol. They actually suggested I should respond within 5 minutes to get the best response time. Are they crazy? Who can do that consistently?

      I think that it’s key to decide consciously what is worth worrying about and what isn’t. You can always respond faster and find one more social network or blogging syndication platform to use… but when does it stop? I think when you first start out, it may be worth investing the time for a few weeks to get the ball rolling… but then you need to step back before you lose you mind…!

      This is why I’m doing an audit now (with this Quality Time app), and I’m going to try to set some limits myself.

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂 It is nice to know I’m not alone in this feeling!
      Carolyn recently posted…Social Media Overwhelm!My Profile

  5. I so admire your willingness to be open, honest and vulnerable. I have been in that place you described and felt the need to crawl up into a shell. I am so proud of your taking the time pause, face the reality of what you have created and to re-evaluate where you are headed and how you want to go. You are not alone and are a great example of how to stop and start over with a new plan (and hopefully, not beat yourself up). Thank you!

    • Thank you for that! I was a bit nervous about that post. But I thought: I don’t want to write if I can’t write about my truth, and it’s not always positive. I think sharing the overwhelm and anxiety is important, too. There are two sides to the passionate/excited ADHD coin. We can burn ourselves out with that enthusiasm, and I don’t want to lose this. I want to focus my attention on creating posts, not just responding to Tweets!!

      I’m actually going away for four weeks later this month, working as a camp nurse. I think it will be a great opportunity to re-center, brainstorm and write, and come back refreshed and ready to focus.

      Thanks again for the kind words. I means a lot, really.
      Carolyn recently posted…Social Media Overwhelm!My Profile

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