How I am learning to consume less media

Back at the end of October, I had my first supervision session at work with a therapist. The grouped supervision is to help us discuss the content we cover at our events. I work for a Counselling and Psychotherapy Association so often the content is heavy, distressing and often traumatic to hear. I can arrive home after an intense few days feeling sad, overwhelmed and lonely. Left with a lot of statistics and content I don’t know what to do with. I don’t want to keep it to myself but I don’t want to vicariously offload it onto my family. After voicing our concerns work kindly started to support this by offering supervision post events.
Of all the outcomes I imagined I was going to gain from this session the ability to cut down on the media I consume was not one of them. As I went into this session I was at a peak. I was trying to cram everything into my life and felt as though I was failing at everything. I was trying to listen to a number of podcasts, watch every recommendation on Netflix whilst reading all the books on my reading list. Along with keeping up with music in the charts, reading all current affairs online and trying to stay up to date with lifestyle articles from the Times etc. Not to mention reading my favourite blogs whilst scrolling Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. You may think I am exaggerating but you would be wrong. I was becoming so overwhelmed. All these forms of media were supposed to be outlets I enjoyed, to relax me and help unwind after work. Yet they were causing me more stress. I was writing a ‘to watch’ list in my diary, trying to cram podcasts into every second of my waking day and rattle through books instead of having a conversation. Something needed to change, These are the steps I have taken to cut down on the media I was consuming. 
I Swapped media outlets
I have stopped my Daily Mail Habit (shock I know, I could do an Ecourse on this). I realised the pointless scrolling, the awareness of knowing it was non-news was adding nothing to my day. Instead I swapped it for the Guardian and BBC news which don’t draw you in with click-bait headlines.  
I now only read blogs by the handful of bloggers I love. The title really has to catch my eye and I try to only check Manrepeller, The Pool and websites such like a few times a week. 
Let go and forgot the programmes I missed

When we were children the only option to watch a programme was when it was airing, or if you had recorded it with a videotape. I did this once, (Olympia horse show 2003 FYI and my god did I watch it over and over). We still hadn’t seen the introduction of plus one, there was no Iplayer, on demand, catch up or Netflix 24 hour streaming of your favourite programme. When we were children if you missed something you missed it. If you were lucky you could catch a snippet in the TV magazine but that was it, you forgot about it. Now there is no need to miss anything, any recommendation made you can go home that evening and catch up. Which is exactly what I was doing. I had recommendations longer than my arm and I was trying to watch them all. Now if I miss a programme which I am not too bothered or desperate to find out what has happened I leave it. This has resulted in me forgetting about the endings of a fair few shows, and it hasn’t killed me. Nor has anyone asked me my thoughts on said programmes. 

Choose one-off episodes instead of a series of shows and podcast
This change really contributed to making me feel less overwhelmed with watching and listening to vairous series. It helped me return to watching programmes to relax and let go. I started to watch programmes like First dates and listening to podcasts I could dip in and out to instead of having to listen to consecutive episodes. It is a lot more mindless and results in me feeling less stressed about finding the time to fit them all in. 
Read to relax instead of reading to read everything 
Reading is one of my favourite pastimes. I am never sad if I am reading. So when I found I was trying to blitz through books to try and keep up with various reading lists I knew I had to change. I stopped buying books off Instagram recommendation. I stopped buying new releases others were reading and started going to the charity shop to pick up books I thought I would enjoy. I do still buy the odd one or two off Amazon, there are some I don’t want to wait for. 
Don’t mass follow on Instagram with a fear of missing out on new trends 

I have lately been trying to reduce my following list on Instagram. I follow so many accounts so I don’t miss out. I know the places to eat in various cities I don’t live in. I follow countless journalists to keep up with the latest read. I follow hotels and holiday destinations I cannot afford to visit at the moment. I follow 1000s of bloggers and influencers to keep up with general trends. I realised this isn’t healthy and it wasn’t making me happy. Often even if I was in a city I never frequented any of the restaurants I have on my Instagram account. This is a working progress because I like to support businesses and people but I am trying to unfollow the accounts which don’t positively add to my life

Turned notifications off my phone

I wish I had done this sooner. I now only pick my phone up when I have time to.

Only follow links on the podcast which actually interest you

The High Low is one of my favourite podcast, they recommend so many valuable sources of information. From other podcasts to listen to, programmes they have loved, films, music, books etc. I found this was one of many places where I was trying to make my way through all their recommendations. I now only click on the links I am interested in and do not even try to entertain the others. 

Forget about it if you’re not hooked

The most important. We can often persevere with recommendations because they have been spoken of so highly by others. Feeling like a failure for not liking them as much. Do not waste your time, there are so many other things you will like, spend your time on them instead. 

After making subtle or unconscious changes I realised I was going to bed early and not giving a second thought to programmes which were on. I was picking up a book because I realised I had a few hours where I could get stuck into a book I loved. I was going to the charity shop to buy any book I liked, instead of buying another amazon recommendation.
I didn’t care if I missed the ending of a series, it obviously hadn’t gripped me. I began leaning towards programmes like first dates which made me feel happier and helped me switch off. I felt as though I finally had my evenings back. I could unwind, enjoy and actually found I wanted to get on with work I had because I was no longer feeling so stressed out.

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