How does it feel to spend less time on social media? My experiences pt 1#unplug

A screenshot from a smartphone, showing a window asking if the Facebook app should really be deleted

On a recent Monday evening, I pulled the plug. I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. As uneventful as that may sound, it has been a drastic decision for me. I have never measured how much time I spend on Facebook, but I am sure it must have been quite some hours in a week.

Getting dragged into the never-ending rabbit hole of the auto-scrolling Facebook feed for more time than I wanted was one part of the problem. What was even more of a problem for me was that I kept reading postings that aggravated me and caused me to think about smart rebuttals, resulting in long, imaginary conversations that kept my mind working for hours. I hardly ever really replied to anyone, of course, knowing that discussions with others online seldomly where fruitful.

You can read about why I pulled the plug in my first post about this topic: https://www.mizzi.at/reduce-social-media-consumption-in-september-unplug/

So, a few days have gone by since Monday – how did my “strategy” work out for me?

I haven’t logged into Facebook ONCE since Monday. I never felt the urge to do it, although I had a brief moment of wanting to check out one of the camping groups I am in to find some info about travelling to the Bretagne.

I have checked Instagram sometimes, although way less than I used to. Somehow it currently feels uninteresting to me to scroll through endless streams of pictures. My Instagram follow-list has grown so much that I sometimes see more stuff from people I don’t really know than from the ones I care about. Today, I opened Instagram and was instantly triggered by a posting about organic veggies by somebody I don’t even know in person… I closed the app and haven’t opened it again since.

The first noticable effects my reduced social media consumption has on me are:

  • better sleep. I guess the first reason is this: less imaginary discussions mean less time that my brain is rattling on when I actually would prefer to sleep. The second reason could be that I was more conciously spending my evening, watching a movie or a show and not browsing social media at the same time. Due to this, I noticed when I was getting tired and went to bed a bit earlier.
  • more time for other things. It sounds cheesy, but I really managed to do more “real” stuff instead of scrolling around on my phone, without it feeling like a burden or being exhausting. I’m not forcing myself to do more “real” stuff, I just want to do it. For example, I went on multiple walks, I completed a book, I made my own chocolate, I tried my hand at making granola bars and I completed some chores in the garden and house.
  • more creativity and motivation. I wrote a few postings on this blog already again (which I have been wanting to do for ages!) and I often have ideas for new posts or other stuff I want to try/make. That’s how I came up with the wish to make chocolate and granola bars.
  • feeling better. I am proud of myself that I have gone a few days with less mindless social media consumption.

Sounds pretty good so far, eh? Even a bit too good to be true ;)
I am looking forward to seeing how this journey unfolds for me. At the moment, a variety of different developments is imaginable to me.

My experience with my #reduceplastic challenge pt 2

A hand holding a cardboard box of noodles and a packet of chocolate.

Today, I went shopping for groceries. I wanted to check out what options with no plastic and less packaging in general there are.

First, I went to the farmers market. This is a pretty easy way to buy non-packaged stuff, often-times the food is even organic. I loaded up on veggies there, got some fruit and bread, as well as grape juice in a glass bottle.

Next, I stopped at the local organic supermarket. I was able to find some hearty spreads to go on top of the bread I bought, packaged in glass. They also had one of the chocolate brands that use biodegradable wrapping for their goods (info found here: https://einbisschengruener.com/2016/02/14/plastikfreie-alufreie-nachhaltige-vegane-schokolade/).
Sadly, they didn’t have any noodles in paper or cardboard. Maybe one of the packages was non-plastic, as it felt differently to the touch, but since there was no info on it, I didn’t buy it.

I went to a bigger supermarket, where I found noodles from the house-brand, packaged in cardboard box. Too bad that those noodles aren’t organic. Phew. Maybe it’s like with the vegetables – if they’re organic, they will be wrapped in plastic. If they are non-organic, they won’t have a plastic wrapping. I still haven’t understood why it’s necessary or meaningful to wrap the organic stuff in plastic, but I guess most people don’t buy organic, so at least less plastic gets bought that way… with the exception of those damn plastic bags they give away for free at the fruit & veggie section.

My conclusion so far: it’s possible to buy less plastic and less packaging. It feels a bit like when I went vegetarian (or vegan after that) – in the beginning, it seemed a bit difficult to find alternatives, but as soon as you knew about them, your shopping list changed a bit and from then on, you simply bought a few different items.

We’ll see how my experiment continues…

Making my own chocolate #reduceplastic

A piece of star-shaped chocolate on a plate.

I have found an inspiring blogpost about making chocolate yourself and tried it out today. Here’s the recipe: https://cakeinvasion.de/schokolade-selber-machen-vegan/

Only three ingredients are needed: cocoa, coconut fat and powdered sugar. That means that you might be able to quickly make yourself some chocolate anytime you crave some, if you keep basic baking ingredients at home! That sounds pretty calming to me ;)

The process is easy, although it takes some time to melt and mix the ingredients. I was able to produce a pretty decent result, so everyone with minimal baking knowledge (reaaaally minimal) can do it too! Next time I will use syrup as sweetener instead of the powdered sugar to avoid having lumps of sugar in the finished chocolate.

My experience with my #reduceplastic challenge pt 1

Since deciding to reduce my plastic consumption starting in September, I have done a bit of research and thinking.

My first quest is to find alternatives to noodles and chocolate packaged in plastic.

So far, I have found out that there‘s a company from Austria called Wolf Nudeln which produces noodles packaged in paper/cardboard AND they offer vegan noodles (good old-fashioned durum wheat noodles ;)).

Also, I found a blogpost about chocolate without plastic wrapping, stating that there are some brands which use a bio-degradable plastic wrapping. The author even tried the bio-degradation for herself by burying the wrapping in her garden for some time and she was able to confirm the company’s claim.

Here‘s the blogpost: https://einbisschengruener.com/2016/02/14/plastikfreie-alufreie-nachhaltige-vegane-schokolade/

I will visit the organic supermarkets that we have in town to see if they offer one of these brands. So far, it seems like good alternatives can be found.

Focus already!

During my current quest to reduce my social media consumption, I have noticed a general urge in myself to improve my focus skills. I feel like I am easily distracted and I want to change that.

To help myself to stay on track, I have started using the Pomodoro technique (again). Basically, the Pomodoro technique helps you to focus on getting one task done, concentrating on it for 25 minutes. After that period, you can take a short break of 5 minutes. When you have completed four cycles, you get to take a longer break.
Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the Pomodoro technique: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

I am using an extension for Google Chrome called „Block & Focus“, which helps me to stay on track.

Sometimes I also manage to turn off all notifications for a period of time, but sometimes I am also too weak for that ;)

So far, I feel that using this technique is helpful for me. I find it hard to grant myself the right to take a break, although breaks are needed to stay mentally fresh. The breaks are what make a work process sustainable after all! Still I feel guilty from time to time for taking breaks.

I have extended the focus timespan to 60 minutes today, because 25 minutes seem just a bit too short for the tasks I need to complete. Maybe I will go down to 45 minutes of focus, so I don‘t overlook my need for breaks.

I will try to incorporate the Pomodoro technique as often as possible!

Reduce social media consumption in September #unplug

A female hiker sitting on a bench on a summit, overlooking a valley filled with green trees and meadows

During the last weeks, I have felt more and more uncomfortable and unhappy with my social media consumption. Multiple times I was aggravated after reading articles and comments on social media. My biggest issue is with Facebook. I am aware that there is a strategy behind which postings get washed into my feed. The more it triggers me, the more likely I am to interact with it, the longer I will stay online on Facebook.

Fear of missing out, hate-reading, looking for validation are some of the factors that make us open up that social media app time and time again. Stuff like comparing ones life with the seemingly perfect lives of others makes us feel bad about ourselves.

I don’t want to sound like I think I am a zen guru now, I am not claiming I will never open up Facebook again, in fact, I still want to keep running the Mizzi Facebook page (however I am going to handle that) and sometimes check my feed, but I wish to reduce the time that I spend on social networks.

I have already attempted that once, I deleted the Facebook app from my phone which somehow was a scary experience, telling myself that I could always just sign in via the website if I needed to. My experiment went well for some time, until I got annoyed by all the detours I had to take. I even reinstalled the Facebook messenger because Facebook made it harder to respond to messages without the app.

We will see how my experiment goes this time. I deleted the Facebook app yesterday, I kept the messenger because I hardly get messages there and it’s not dragging me back into the rabbit hole of social media anyway.
I will not delete Instagram or any of the messengers I use, because I feel like those apps are not having a big negative effect on my life. I do of course compare myself with others, but I am aware that most pictures on Instagram are not “real”. I, myself, also use a good angle when taking pictures, I try to cut out disturbing elements, I play around with filters… I think that’s fine, as long as I am aware that Instagram is an app for posting “nice pictures” and not authentic, real life stills.

I have turned on the screen time statistics on my phone to collect a bit of info, I am curious to see how often I pick up the phone… I guess I should have started that before I deleted the Facebook app, but oh well ;)

Do you have any issues with your social media usage? Have you tried to reduce your social media consumption or your screen time? Do you have any recommendations for me? Please feel free to write a comment or e-mail me!

Avoid plastic challenge in september #reduceplastic

Stephanie Jagl-Posch standing at the beach with a pile of collected trash

Inspired by a posting by a fellow surfer, I will try my best to reduce my plastic consumption this september (and hopefully stick to it for the rest of my life).

Here is the posting I am referring to:

I can relate to the experience that the awareness for how much we litter our earth has grown due to surfing. I have reduced my plastic consumption over the years already, but I still have lots of room for improvement.

I really had to think for a while what items packaged in plastic I am buying constantly, then I noticed that our beloved noodles come in plastic wrapping. I don‘t know why, because I guess that dry durum wheat noodles could easily be packaged without using plastic, but then again, I‘m not a food engineer, so what do I know, really? ;)

Another item that always is wrapped in plastic is chocolate. There is of course chocolate that is wrapped in aluminium foil, but that‘s probably not better.

My personal challenge for september will be to find an alternative for the noodles that come in a plastic bag, I am optimistic that this will be possible.

More of a mystery to me is my second challenge task – don‘t buy chocolate wrapped in plastic or aluminium. Will it work? I have no idea. But I want to educate myself, so I can make more conscious decisions in the future.

I will continue to buy less plastic, stick to fruits & veggies that are sold unwrapped (ideally locally, organically grown stuff directly at the market) and look for other alternatives to single use plastic.

If you have any recommendations for me, please feel free to post a comment or send me an e-mail!

one weekend of path maintenance work with the Gebirgsverein

path maintenance at the Schneealm: hammering a pole into the ground
hammering a pole with marking into the ground

are you aware of all the work that has to be done to ensure safe paths in the mountains? do you know how much time has to be dedicated to refreshing markers and mounting signposts? are you informed about the people who take care of handrails alongside steep paths? well, i wasn’t, at least up until the first weekend of july 2016!
after years of splitboard touring, hiking, freeriding and some (easy) climbing in the alps, i decided it was time to give something back to the volunteers who generously donate their free time to ensure safe paths in the mountains for everyone to use free of cost.
in may, after getting inspired by an article about path maintenance, i contacted the Alpenverein to ask about possibilities to help out. i quickly got a reply, offering the chance of joining a team which takes care of the paths on and around the Schneealm in Styria. this sounded like a great opportunity to me – to be taken under the wings of experienced people, getting initiated into the vast field of knowhow around path maintenance.
although the weather was forecasted to be a bit capricious, i set out for Altenberg an der Rax in the morning of the 2nd of july 2016. i arrived at 10pm and met up with Otto from the Gebirgsverein Südwien-Mürzer-Oberland. after a short stop at my accomodation, the Lurgbauer-Villa, we quickly began our drive up the Schneealpe.
our first tasks were improving the mounting and cleaning some signs. we then moved on to the Kutatschhütte, which is a small shelter on the Schneealm. to ensure a welcoming hut experience for all visitors, we cleaned up a little, sweeping the floor, emptying the trash can and folding the blankets.
path maintenance at the Schneealm: sweeping the floor of the Kutatschhütte
sweeping the floor of the Kutatschhütte

then we continued our trip across the Schneealm plateau, stopping every few meters to either rectify existing posts with marking or to hammer new posts into the earth, to allow for good orientation even on foggy days. every post needs a bit of barbed wire wrapped around it to keep the cows which graze on the mountain pasture from playing with the posts. they love a good scratch just too much!
after a short break in one of the huts, we continued our work and repainted the letters on some signs. they get worn out by the weather so much that they need a bit of refreshment now and then.
path maintenance at the Schneealm: Otto repainting a sign
Otto repainting a sign

later on, we drove back down towards the valley and stopped at the Knappensteig. we ascended a short bit, carrying a cordless screwdriver and a cordless brushcutter to the path. we enhanced the mounting of a sign and then proceeded to mow the grass covering the path. since a lot of people like to use this path for trailrunning, we made sure to uncover the path as good as possible.
at 5pm, just before the thunderstorm, we ended our work day and i headed back to the Lurgbauer-Villa for a very relaxing night of sleep.
 
on sunday, the weather was not too friendly – grey clouds and rain greeted me in the morning. still, we had work to do and met up at 10am. this time, we were 4 people in total, since we were joined by Peter and Nikos.
we packed all of the needed equipment into the all-terrain car and drove up to the Nasskamm. at the end of the road, we noticed that a handrail had been partially destroyed, probably by an avalanche in late spring.
our first task for the day was found!
path maintenance at the Schneealm: picture of a handrail, that was broken and has been repaired by us
the handrail, before and after

we searched for the missing parts of the handrail and tried to figure out how they could possibly fit together. after getting a general idea of the situation, we started with pulling up one of the longer logs with assistance of a rope to the path over the steep slope. we hammered a shorter pole into the ground and Peter used the chainsaw to even out the ends of the longer log, so that they formed a flat surface to lie upon the tops of the vertical poles. after using long nails to fix the log, the first part of the handrail had been restored successfully.
the rain got more intense and we had to use a hoe a few times to chop steps into the steep, slippery path between working on the handrail. after about 2 hours, we were done with repairing the handrail.
luckily, the weather had gotten better again, so we grabbed spar varnish in red and white, a sledge hammer as well as a chainsaw and started a 20 minute hike upwards to a meadow. orientation in the fog would be a problem here, since the marking on the trees had already faded out too much and the posts with marking were too far away from each other. so we started enhancing the situation. Nikos and Peter added posts and cut away some branches to reveal the paint marking, Otto and I refreshed the spar varnish on the trees.
path maintenance at the Schneealm: Nikos is mowing the lawn in the mountains
Nikos mowing the lawn in the mountains ;)

path maintenance at the Schneealm: using a brushcutter to uncover poles with marking
uncovering poles with a brushcutter

after this, we took a short break and then proceeded to the last place of action of the day, a path further down the mountain. we followed the path by foot, added posts with marking and cut away the grass around all posts.
when we reached the car again, we packed all equipment into the trunk and headed back down to the valley, where we ended the day at the Altenbergerhof.
 
although I was tired after two days of work, I was very happy that I decided to take part in this project! especially the hard work on sunday was great, because you could see the results directly afterwards. I was able to learn a lot and I was not aware of all the work that needs to be put into maintaining a safe network of paths.
my goal is to keep participating in these missions to learn enough so that I can contribute on my own in an area near to my home one day.
 
-> info on path maintenance and volunteering at the Alpenverein website
-> German version of the article on powderguide.com

go with the flow!

relaxing with a view!
relaxing with a view!

let me get this straight – i love winter sports. i love splitboard touring, i love snowboarding, i love cross country skiing, i love going for a walk in a wintery wonderland. last winter, i was very frustrated by the weather. we had had only a few powder days here in eastern austria, and it didn’t look much better in western austria. i was in a bad mood, constantly waiting for this one big dump that i had hoped for since the season before. but it never came.
we enjoyed some really great days in the mountains, but it just didn’t feel like a proper winter.
about 10 years ago, we would get lots of snow, even in the flat lands of eastern austria. when you were unlucky, you had to shovel yourself a passage through a snow windlip on the street to my parents’ village to get through by car. in the morning, you’d find your car hidden underneath some 30 centimeters of freshies and dug in even more by the snowplough. you could often go cross country skiing on the fields nearby, you could bobsleigh down hills, you could go skiing or snowboarding on the mountains close-by.
these times seem to be long gone. and so far, it doesn’t seem like they will come back this winter season.
i have gotten in one splitboard tour in lower austria in november and since then, nearly all the snow has melted and temperatures have risen again.
having a break in the sun.
having a break in the sun.

the big difference to last winter is my personal stance on the weather. i have decided not to get upset about the lack of snow and warm temperatures anymore.
i will do whatever i can to minimize my own negative impact on the climate, like reducing the waste i produce, reusing or repairing stuff before buying new things, eating a plant based diet and using my bike or my feet as means of transportation as often as possible.
i often pick up trash that i find washed upon a beach or lying around in nature. 3 days ago i found an empty bottle of vodka in a forest. i collected it and carried it with me until i reached the next trash can.
i will continue to do things like that because i truly believe that everyone of us can make a positive impact on the environment.
but still – i can’t change the weather, i can’t make it snow and i can’t reduce the temperature.
it is of no use to be upset because of the weather.
i have decided to adapt to the current situation, go with the flow and make the best of it!
for me, this means not driving hundreds of kilometers to the next glacier to be able to snowboard. i’d rather stick to the options i have in my nearer surroundings and embrace the beauty and fun that can be found here.
while i won’t be able to work on my snowboarding technique this way, i still can continue to build up stamina, balance and muscle power to help my body perform even better (and by the way, this year i have finally acknowledged that my body is already capable of so much awesome stuff, i’m really grateful for that!).
a fiery sunrise.
a fiery sunrise.

 
two weeks ago on sunday, i decided to flee from the ongoing fog that has been plaguing the valleys and flat land for the last week. i hopped into the car, drove for 30 minutes and then started a short hike. although i was tired and it was cold and foggy at the parking lot, i soon saw the first rays of sunshine and enjoyed a wonderful hike! it was warm and the birds sang a lovely song.
last weekend, roman and i finally had the chance to go on hikes together again!
on saturday, we conquered the paulmauer and on sunday, we summited the göller, both mountains in lower austria. the first one being more of a little hill, the second can be called a decent mountain already ;)
here are some pictures…