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The Internet Has No Boundaries

Facebook posts, group emails, Instagram stories, Slack notifications, and on and on. The internet just keeps shooting stuff at us like a t-shirt cannon.

And what do we do? We typically react without considering our needs first, sapping our energy and time (two of our most valuable resources). 

We need to get intentional about how we engage with the internet.

In other words, we have to create some healthy boundaries.

We can't rely on the internet to do that for us. It will never voluntarily support our efforts to be well, take time off from work, or reduce our exposure to trauma or bullying. 

Only YOU can set boundaries with the internet.

I'm pretty sure that Smokey the Bear's cousin, Burnout the Beaver, said that.

No surprise, technological boundaries popped up during a round table discussion I hosted on compassion fatigue at Animal Care Expo the other week. As a group, we shared what works for us and I want to pass on a few nuggets from that conversation:

1. Emails are someone else's to-do list. Not yours. You do not have to react immediately every time someone else hits "send." 

Try to respond to emails and messages intentionally, based on your to-do list. You decide when you will check-in and what takes priority.

Obviously, some emails are very time sensitive.

But all emails are not equally important and the majority are the equivalent of someone asking you a benign question while poking you in the arm incessantly.

If these emails were people in your physical space, I bet you'd get a door and create office hours (those are boundaries!) so you could get work done.

Treat your Inbox the same way. Be intentional. Don't just react to other people's messages. Think carefully about how you want to use your time and energy.

2. Stop exposing yourself to trauma online. Research tells us that one of the most effective ways to reduce compassion fatigue/vicarious trauma is to reduce your exposure to trauma.

You can't always change what you see at work, but you can choose to stop exposing yourself to traumatic materials that ambush you on your social media feeds (and TV). 

You have no control over what other people post. Set boundaries by unfollowing people and pages that post graphic content without warning. If you do want to see upsetting content, take control back. Actively choose to seek it out, rather than being a passive recipient.

3. Create a feed that feeds you well. Having a life outside of work also helps to reduce compassion fatigue. Use social media to help you connect to other aspects of your life by heavily curating your feeds.

One lovely woman told me she edited her Facebook feed so that it's ALL mountains. Mountaineering is her hobby and that's all she sees on FB. This helps her mind to rest and recharge after a long day at the animal shelter.

Do the same. Set boundaries on work-related and animal-related posts. Fill your feed with art, music, nature, jokes. Whatever fills your cup. Give your heart and mind a real break.

Boundaries = being intentional about what you consume. 


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