Real-time messaging has been a great invention for many of us, except, when the time is not right, those messages could get more annoying than a wood-workshop at full volume next to the ears, pushing up those stress levels to the limits; Especially when you want to do a task which requires full attention at hand.
Everyone with a smart phone is mostly connected 24/7 to various apps, like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Tumblr and (many) more. This gives the advantage to be reachable at all times, but also brings a burden to be “too much” connected to the on-line world, bringing extra sensory overloads through that (super fast) connection of your phone.
Most people want to (and can) be reachable 24/7, but with autism and ADHD, it has its perks, especially when being in a mental state where there is no more platform to communicate actively with other parties. Most people see real-time messaging as granted and can become mad when you do not respond (in a timely manner) to a message being sent to you, making the anxiety and stress only raise in level.
I have dealt with this in a few ways, to lower the sensory overload coming from those apps, which lowers the anxiety of ‘having to respond’ to those messages that just entered my personal space, at the most wrong times.
1st step: disable real-time notifications.
It is a multiple steps program, which requires a bit of personal motivation and discipline, to get back a lot of peace in mind.
- Tell your friends on your friend list that you will not always be available when they send a message, even when your phone is 24/7 connected. I will respond when it best fits me, instead when it best fits (all of) them.
- I give up as reason that “I need to be able to focus upon my tasks at hand”, while real-time messaging is taking me away of that focus, sometimes partly but often entirely. That is my primary reason which is no lie at all.
- Put notifications (or atleast the sounds) OFF for all real-time applications. This will make sure, you won’t be triggered by all those messages and status updates to clutter up your screen and mind.
- When e-mails give similar stress, put their notifications off as well.
- Put yourself only reachable through SMS, iMessage and/or only a single/primary e-mail account which your family or best friends only know.
- Enjoy the first part of this process and the peace it brings.
- You could enable “badges” to be active, so you can still see the amount of messages waiting for an application, without actively distracting you. Do this only if the amount of accumulated messages will not stress you.
This is the first part of decluttering your phone and mind, for the requirement to be always reachable. When you are ready to be reached, you can get on-line at that moment itself.
2nd step: let others know your communicative state.
The second part is to warn others in which kind of “state of mind” you are by adding a colored dot or colored border to your profile pictures.
- When in a communicative state, the color would be green (everything is all fine) or green/yellow (nervous or anxious state), which would indicate everything is all fine and I am open for communication. At that moment you could ask (almost) anything.
- When being in a less communicative state, the color would be yellow (coping fase), orange (bail-out/fight-or-flee response), which indicates I will have issues communicating and I will not be able to talk open about everything. When you want a serious talk, it is best to talk about that when my “mental mood level” is lower.
- When unable to communicate, the color would be red (meltdown) or blue (crashing). At that moment it is best to leave me alone and only ask the reason why, when I am back in a better communicative state.
These colors will depend from person to person. With me, there are 6 levels, while with others there might be less mood states. I wrote about this here.
A bit later, I will add examples to this article, how this will look like on social media and how to make those colored borders or dots to show on your profile.
Enjoy these stress-relieving tips and let me know if you got any other tips, to make it easier to work with social-media, real-time messaging or anything for apps that require a fulltime online presence.