It's so easy to get sucked into our cellphones. These handy and incredible objects that can connect us to the world and give us so much information in mere seconds can offer comfort, connection, fun, and a way to express ourselves. But does this stay true during your diagnosis, treatment, and afterward? Is there such a thing as too much screen time?
The unknown during diagnosis, treatment, and after can be one of the most painful parts of your journey. Finding the right kind of support and spending your time as you wish during your journey can be a battle in itself. Panic, fear, and doubt are a part of your everyday life, on top of trying to live your life as normally as you possibly can. Eliminating the negative things and people in your life during this time can be a very difficult decision to make. It can add another layer of worry and doubt to your life while trying to live and heal according to the societal norms around you. But what good are those negative people are things doing for you? Giving you extra stress, worry, hurting you, and possibly even making you angry? Why would you want someone like that in your life? The same thing applies to the cellphone that has casually become a permanent staple in your hand, back pocket, or bag.
We spend hours of our day scrolling mindlessly through our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts or on news sites, playing games, or surfing the web. We love posting about our families, the exciting things we're doing, looking up recipes, shopping on Amazon, and keeping up to date on the news. When going through treatment and afterward, social media and our connection to it can be a great form of comfort, reassurance, and an extension of learning more about what's happening in your body. There are so many inspiring Facebook pages and groups waiting to welcome you in with open arms, Instagram accounts that will keep you inspired, and brilliant websites to read and podcasts to listen to that will educate and comfort you on this journey. But what about everything else in between? How much time should you be spending on your phone, and when does it become a little too much? Is too much screen time a good thing or a band thing during your road to recovery or through treatment? This is an emerging topic that might cause a dispute or two. As you consider your path and choice of time spent on your phone, here are some things to consider and think about.
We've talked about the struggles of trying to keep up with the normalcy of your life while going through treatment. That even though you've been diagnosed with something very scary and difficult, you've started invasive treatments that can leave you exhausted and sick, society pressures you to keep on going, caring for your family and your job as if nothing has changed. You can do this all on your own, right? First of all, as we've said many times before, you have to flush the idea of "normal". There is no one way you should be dealing with your diagnosis or treatment, how you care for your family, or live your life through it all. You make those decisions to better your quality of life. But where does that pressure to look and live that perfect life come from? One of its many sources is social media.
You may be following others on social media platforms that are going through a journey similar to yours. But, some of these people make it look easy, that it's not a huge challenge, and their pictures are inspiring or beautiful while doing it. Remember, what you post online is under your control. Filters are there to make everything look exactly how you want it to. You can control every aspect of your pictures and leave the imperfection and ugly behind. The days you get bad news, feel sick, don't look or feel like yourself, the messy house, the distraught or frustrated family members, might be left out of their posts. Even if they don't show these things, it's all still there, just like you. Seeing these cultivated and perfectly inspired posts over and over again can either keep you inspired or weigh heavily on you. Thoughts of doubt, comparison, and low self-esteem can become a daily part of your experience with social media. These posts can make you question why your life and journey doesn't look as easy or as inspiring as others, and make you question why it's not like that for you.
When comparison starts getting in the way, we suggest that it's time to put your phone down. Granted, these posts, these blogs, Facebook groups, and anywhere you can find a connection are there to serve a wonderful purpose. But when that purpose no longer applies to you or when it's making your journey more difficult or upsetting in any way, it might be time to reevaluate why this amount of screen time and what you're doing on your phone is important.
It's so easy to let the hours disappear while you're scrolling or reading online. How many times have you opened your favorite social media app to check or post something and all of a sudden an hour or two is gone. How did that happen? Hours and time can become precious while on this journey. It is also time that needs to be used to rest and recover. It's so easy to pick up your phone and scroll when you can't sleep. Those hours can slip away and prevent you from getting the rest that you need to keep up your winning battle. Be good to yourself, you deserve the time to rest.
Phone calls, text messages, emails, messenger; these are all wonderful ways to stay in contact with your loved ones and to keep them updated on your journey. You can spend hours every day answering or making calls, responding to messages, and sending emails. It can be therapeutic for both you and those receiving them. It's also ok to set time limits on when you're going to be on your phone talking about your diagnosis or treatment. You can set up time slots for when you're going to be answering these calls and messages, and when you're not. There is no need to feel guilty for doing so. You don't need to give any explanation for making that decision. The hours and time you spend on the phone repeating the same information over and over again can be an emotionally draining experience. You are allowed to decide what times during the day is best for you to talk on the phone and when your phone will be put down.
There has been no proven science that being on your phone too long or storing it in your bra will give you breast cancer. Spending large amounts of time on your phone has been linked to headaches, stress, anxiety, depression, short temper, a shortened attention span, and damage to your eyes. None of these things are enjoyable when you're in your best shape, let alone dealing with breast cancer. You already have enough on your plate, why add more to that?
With all of this being said, there are plenty of benefits to screen time. As I mentioned above, there is a lot of comfort and education you can glean from your time on the web. It's also a way to share your journey, not only with your loved ones but with those you can help educate and inspire with your story. When choosing how much screen time you have in your life, make the choice mindfully. It's not a bad thing for you, but always choose your screen time for the positive reasons all of it was created for.
As in any decision you make while on your journey, make it for you. If you enjoy spending time on your phone, spend time on your phone! These are your decisions to make, so make them proudly. As you live through your diagnosis, treatment, and beyond, give yourself the joy and happiness you deserve in the best ways you can. We are here to give you the support you need, answer the questions you have, and guide you on the journey you want. Say yes to what to want, and allow yourself to say no to the things that are getting in the way of your life.