In the past words like self-care, wellbeing and digital mindfulness would have sent me into a little bit of tailspin of negativity. Who has time for all of those things, let along focusing on just one of those things? Life is busy, it is so busy and I feel like all we are doing is trying to find that allusive 'balance'.
I have brutal truth for you all. There is no such thing as balance. It is not attainable. I don't say this to be negative, but rather to be realistic to those out there constantly searching and striving for balance. I'm here to offer you a new word... a word which has literally changed my life.
Have you heard of 'tilting'?
Tilting is attainable. I first heard of tilting from Steph @greenandgrowingthings. A very simplistic explanation of 'tilting' means you tilt your life to prioritise different things; depending on the time, what you are doing, where you are etc... If you are a visual person like me, just think of your life like a set of vintage scales; instead of maintaining balance, your life will tilt from side to side constantly.
Last year I was trying to do it all. The Merge Journal, create digital content for my Instagram @the.oneills and my motherhood blog (www.emmyoneill.com), work as Editor at Brisbane Threads & running all their social media, freelance for other online publications... oh and I still had to be a mother on top of it all!! No wonder I could not achieve balance. Everyday, for hours a day I was on my phone, answering work emails, responding to influencer briefs, working with clients getting content approved; constantly online. There was not break. I was completely addicted to Instagram, to growth, to likes, to comments, to engagement ratios. The more I got, the more I wanted. There was no satisfaction. There was no downtime and there certainly no balance.
I learnt the hard way, with one of those sitting-on-the-floor-rocking-in-the-corner-aha-moments that balance wasn't attainable.
And I became digitally burnt out.
So what does one do when one becomes digitally burnt out? Well like all things the first step is acknowledging the problem in the first place. I think if you had asked my husband he would have told you I had burnt out a long time before the end of last year; however for me I didn't realise until my health took a nastier turn.
A little backstory on me & my health... I have had Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) since I was born. In summary my CKD is a result of no oxygen at birth. Whilst it has never really affected me as I grew up, it did result in both my babes being emergency C-sec and premature; and my kidneys have slowly declined since childbirth. Towards the end of last year my CKD turned into Kidney Failure and words like dialysis, transplant, end stage kidney failure became thrown around. Suddenly words like engagement ratio, comments, Instagramworthy, followers etc lost meaning. Like they lost of lot of meaning.
Within an instant what became important was my family. I became a warrior. Fighting to stay as healthy as I possibly could for my family. Fighting to stay off dialysis as long as possible. Fighting to stay alive. So within one afternoon self-care, wellbeing and digital mindfulness became priorities. They became the why. I needed to look after myself for me and my family. One of the easiest things I could do, was to not do it all. Not try to do it all. Not try for balance. And so I come back to tilting. Now I tilt my life in different directions. If I am holding onto extra fluid (a glamorous side effect to failing kidneys) or if I am extra tired, I take a nap. Sometimes I don't do the dishes. I cut down my workload. We eat a lot of leftovers and I very rarely am on top of the washing. But my family is happy.
I have learnt that self-care can really only happen if you make it a priority. You need to fight for self-care. You need to ask for self-care but above all you need to give yourself permission for self-care. The same goes for wellbeing. To me they are interchangeable.
And what of this digital mindfulness you ask? I think I am still a bit of an IG addict. I know I am not alone there. But the difference now is, I don't have so many platforms consuming my life. I have learnt to say no. I don't check my phone every five minutes. And I don't give any fucks about followers, engagement or whether my child's birthday party is #instaworthy. I love being able to share the daily chaos, the ups and downs of motherhood, my health journey and all the little bits of creative play I do with #theoneilltribe. I am more mindful how I use IG, instead of mindlessly scrolling, I take the time to connect to those around me. Those people who are in my online village.
And I freaking love my online village.