Thursday, December 12, 2019

How the Best Way to Appreciate Life is through Memory-Keeping

When people ask, "So, what do you do?" I generally have a hard time answering.  I try to focus so much on individual needs that I end up doing a variety of things that fall well outside the basic "Heritage Makers consultant" description.

I was asked this "So, what do you do?" question recently, and since my answer wasn't planned, I've thought about it a lot since it came out of my mouth.  Here's what I said:

I teach (free) classes on the importance of our photos and memories and then provide strategies and solutions to make high-quality memory-keeping doable.  It's less about "scrapbooking" and more about appreciating and cherishing life.

In the 14 1/2 years I've been sharing the Heritage Makers vision ("Everyone has a story.  Tell yours."), I've been met with surprising responses when I mention that one of the methods of telling your story is digital scrapbooking.  There are lots of methods, by the way:  {the Yearbook method}, {digital storybooking}, {pocket pages}, etc.  The word "scrapbooking," though, seems to get the most reaction.  People tend to either love it or hate it.  And people tend to mistakenly believe the {myth that if they don't scrapbook then they can't preserve their memories}.

So let me say this again.

Preserving photos and memories is less about scrapbooking and more about appreciating and cherishing life.

Doesn't it seem like depression, anxiety, fear of missing out, and a lack of real connection are prevalent these days?  

So doesn't it follow that happiness, security, joy, gratitude, and connection are needed right now more than ever?  

The good news is that these things are closer than we realize!

Let me be so bold as to suggest that the best way to appreciate your life is through memory-keeping.

Research going back over 25 years has concluded the following amazing (and very hopeful!) facts:
So don't you think it's time?  Don't you think it's time to stop worrying about "scrapbooking" or "not scrapbooking" and just be a memory-keeper?  Photos and memories do so many good things for us--so many things we NEED!  They aren't just "nice"--they're necessities.

{Memory-keeping} is nothing more than sitting down with your photos and memories--your life experience--and putting words to them.  It's organizing the things that happen in such a way that you can develop perspective and gratitude.  It's seeing {long-gone moments and long-gone faces in order to remember and appreciate}.

If I could share anything with you, it would be that!  So I've created this video for you to help you appreciate life, increase your happiness, make connections, and lower your stress.  I talk about WHY memory-keeping is so important, what it can really do for you, and how to actually DO THIS--how to make it a real, consistent part of your life.

(And because it's recorded, you can stop, start, and replay as needed!)

I'll end here with two personal examples.  

In 2012, my brother and sister-in-law were finally expecting a baby after years of trying, waiting, and trying new (expensive) options.  When my baby nephew died halfway through the pregnancy, the grief was unlike anything any of our family members had ever felt.  I couldn't do anything for them, so I made them a book.  (I discussed my experience {here} if you'd like to read it.)

Looking through pictures that were taken at the hospital 2,000 miles away from me helped me "be there."  Writing down the little miracles that happened along the way that my family had told me about over the phone helped me tell this little boy's story in a really beautiful way.  We grieved, yes, but putting those things to paper helped us through the grief AND helped us recognize blessings we might otherwise have missed.  And now that baby boy's 6-year-old sister gets to read about the big brother she never got to meet.  He is real to her, and it has created a connection for her.

Example 2:  Mostly, though, life is great!  There are birthdays and graduations, new jobs and old friends.  I take pictures of all these things.  Because I don't let them sit on my phone or camera and forget about them, I get to re-live them!  I get to re-love them!  Experiences and sweet times don't fade and disappear.  I put pictures and memories in {digital scrap pages} and in {digital storybooks}.  That's how they stay in my memory and in my heart.  Good times are always close by.

So scroll back up and be sure to watch this video I made for you:  Why It's Time to be a Memory-Keeper with Heritage Makers!  From my heart to yours.

Share and save this blog post and video by Pinning, Tweeting, Emailing, or Facebook sharing.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Three Gift Ideas for Connecting Kids with Far-away Grandparents

Do you know or love a toddler?  You probably already know that little brains have a hard time with long-term memory until they get a little bigger.  So the three ideas I'm sharing with you today about helping toddlers connect with faraway family members are just perfect for that toddler you know and love.

Marissa at Just Simply Mom has two little ones and faraway family members.  I wrote a guest blog post for her in September about three of my favorite ideas for using pictures, books, and games to connect across the miles.

You can see pictures and descriptions and even directions on how to create these amazing products for your toddlers--and they make the perfect gifts for grandparents, too!  

And these are not your ordinary grandparent gift ideas.  Trust me!  In fact, just go look for yourself.  These are AMAZING gift ideas that grandparents will love and cherish always.

Click on over to Just Simply Mom to read

Don't forget to share the post with someone who will love it!

Pin this image to Pinterest, or Tweet, email, or share on Facebook

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tiny Lay-Flat Nativities

I am a self-professed nativity addict, and I am always looking for just one more unique one to add to my collection.  Last year I came up with the idea of using {a deck of Heritage Makers playing cards to make multiple sets of tiny, lay-flat nativities}.  When I say "tiny," I mean 3.5" tall.  And when I say "lay-flat," I mean that these fold flat so that they take up almost no room to store!

These would make AMAZING little gifts for very little cost, so let me show you how I made them and how you can make them, too.

I'll show you how to DIY these sweet little nativities, but I have a handful already made that are for sale over at {My Heritage Makers Shop} (or just contact me) for a few dollars apiece if you'd rather not DIY.

STEP 1:  Publish this nativity playing card deck using your Heritage Makers account.
First, {open your Heritage Makers account} if you don't already have one.  Next, {contact me} and ask me to transfer this nativity playing card deck from my account to yours.  (I made this deck, so it's in my personal account.  But with Heritage Makers, you can transfer any project to another user!!  SO COOL.  I love sharing what I've spent the time to create!)
NOTE:  One deck of playing cards is $21 and contains 17 nativity sets.  
STEP 2:  Punch holes using a small hole punch (not a regular-sized one).
There are very small stars on the cards that show you where to punch.  They're a little hard to see, so if you can't see them, just punch holes in these general locations.  I like to hold one card on top of the other card, punching both at the same time, so that I am sure that the holes will line up perfectly.

Small hole punches can be purchased at craft stores.  Because these nativities are
tiny, a regular-sized hole punch would be too big.
STEP 3:  Tie the cards together with string, ribbon, or raffia (shown).
With the fronts of the cards facing each other, tie the cards together. Tie the shepherd card to the left side of the holy family card.  Tie the wisemen card to the right side of the holy family card.


This little nativity measures about 7" wide when open and 2.5" wide when folded flat.  Easy to store, easy to set up, easy to gift!

I absolutely love mine!

This is just one of MANY creative projects you can make and/or gift with a {Heritage Makers} product.  Explore this blog for lots more ideas!

Love this idea?  Pin and share!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Stop Wishing Your Scrapbooking Was Done and Do It (with 3 options)

Are you one of the many people who WISHES your scrapbooking was done?  Would you really like to have your photos in a book instead of languishing on your phone?  Do your kids ask to see pictures of themselves, but you don't have anything significant to show them?  

You're in the right place!  Today I'll show you three completely do-able ways to stop wishing your scrapbooking was done and do it!


Before we get into the 3 options I have to share with you today (which, really, are about 7 or 8 methods), let me first share with you two videos which can help you get over some of the basic hurdles to memory-keeping or scrapbooking.  

Here's how to get your photos off your phone (5 minutes):

And here's one great way to organize your photos on your computer (19 minutes--I walk you through the whole process):

And now on to the 3 options I suggest to help you stop wishing your scrapbooking was done and do it!


It's very important to find a high-quality method to preserve your photos, but it's equally important to find something you love.  If you don't love it, it feels more like a chore instead of something to look forward to.  Putting your photos and memories into something you can hold and look back at for years and years to come is good for the heart and soul.  In fact, I've called it {The Secret Ingredient to Self-Care and Wellness}.  So you should find something do-able that fits your needs and preferences so that you can enjoy all the {personal benefits of memory-keeping}.

So let's explore!!  Let me help you find something top-quality that you will love to do!  In this 15-minute video I show you 4 different possibilities (2 for printed photos and 2 digital methods) that are fantastic.  See which one you like best: 

If you're looking for a digital method that's basic and simple but still higher quality than the average "online photo book" out there, here's another option to consider.  There's even an auto-fill option where you just push a button and all your photos go in the book!

There's a lot of flexibility in those methods under the "option 1" umbrella.  Think about what you would prefer.  Do you want something fast and easy?  Do you want something ultra creative?  

If one of your preferred methods is digital, be sure you check out the {how to get started} tab so you have access to video tutorials that walk you right through the Heritage Makers program, Studio. 


This is my *favorite* method to share with people who are overwhelmed with their photos, wishing their scrapbooking was done but not knowing how to just DO IT.  The yearbook is a product, yes, but the method itself has some valuable strategies that will really help you out of overwhelm and allow you to enjoy your photos by getting them in a book.

I made this video to introduce you to the method (giving you a lot of pointers for dealing with too many photos) and to show you step-by-step how to make your goal into reality.  You want to stop wishing your scrapbooking was done and actually have it done, right?  This is how!  

(Note:  I had a technical issue from 27:11-34:05 in the video, so skip that part.)

I just love the yearbook method!  I hope you will, too.  If you're feeling stuck or overwhelmed, I really believe this is a genius way to get up and going again, preserving your photos and memories.


If none of those possibilities seem to do it for you, you might need a memory-keeping partner to help.  

Whether you need photo organization help or someone to make your ideas into reality, your wish is my command.  You can e-mail me photos with a little something (memory/detail) about each one and I can do the work of creating a digital book or digital scrap pages for you.  You can choose a yearbook theme, a vacation theme, and more.  Truly, if you have an idea, we can make it reality.

I can do all or part of a project, help you start or help you finish.  You can find all the details and fees {right here} at the bottom.

I have clients who just needed to see their first book in their hands in order to get motivated to (and believe they could) continue and do more books on their own.  I also have clients who just like handing me everything and saying, "Work your magic.  Make this a book."  :)  Either way is fine.  My Digital Scrapbooking For Hire program is intended to be whatever YOU need it to be.

Share the love by sharing these helpful ideas on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or
your favorite social media platform.  
What do you think?  Which method do you think would work best for you?  Which one will be THE ONE to let you stop wishing your scrapbooking was done?  Let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Kids (really!)

It might seem a little suspicious that I could tell you THE BEST thing you can do for your kids, but--believe it or not--it's true!  Over the last few years, I've done a lot of reading about actual research that has been conducted about the family and what helps kids the most.  The findings are absolutely fascinating!

I've summarized these studies, my own experiences, and a lot of hope in a guest blog post I wrote for Confessions of Parenting earlier this year.  You'll learn what is the biggest contributor to kids' happiness, emotional well-being, coping skills, and ability to overcome hardship.  Even better, you don't have to do anything extraordinary.

As a bonus, you'll also learn what is statistically proven to make you happier than chocolate!  :)  Really!

If you're a mom like me who worries about too much screen time and not enough vegetables, this post will make you take heart! 

So without further ado, here is

with a huge thanks to Michele and Shiree at Confessions of Parenting for the opportunity to guest post over there.

Did you love the information and encouragement in that post as much as I did?
Share it by Pinning this image, by Tweeting, or by Facebook Sharing.  

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Digital Scrapbooking and Memory-Keeping For Hire

One of the casualties of the busy lifestyle so inherent in today's culture is our photos--and with them our memories.  Unfortunately, we're not just losing our photos and our memories.  We're {losing ourselves}. 

I believe strongly in the process--how sitting down with your own photos and memories is a great source of peace.  Taking the time to look through photos, choose your favorites, and preserve them in a hand-held way where you can write memories next to them is powerful.  There's actually a lot of perspective, gratitude, and connection to be had through it, too.  Studies even show that looking back on happy times (in a photo album, for example) actually increases happiness in the present.

I've been doing this myself for years, so I know all these things firsthand.  However, I also know that memory-keeping has become a lost art.  And, no, I'm not (necessarily) talking about scrapbooking.  I'm really just talking about the simple act of printing up a picture and writing down something about it.  People just don't do that any more.  Digital photo snapping is super cool and easy to share, but we have SO. MANY. PICTURES.  So many people I talk to are {overwhelmed}, and most people don't even know what they're supposed to do with all those pictures.  Or how.

an heirloom-quality book from Heritage Makers, plus
digital scrap pages of the same event
Because memory-keeping comes second-nature to me, I have--in recent years--begun digital scrapbooking and memory-keeping for others.  There's no way, of course, that I could do ALL that memory-keeping entails since they're not my pictures and not my memories, but it's really easy for me to be the boots on the ground, so to speak, making everything happen.  Your wish is my command.

So if you find yourself wanting to do something more with your photos than confining them to JPEG Jail, let me help you.

There are lots of options from digital hardbound books to digital scrap pages, and I can even do paper scrapbooking if you prefer (only it takes a lot longer).  If you'd like a cute scrapbook-y kind of look, I can do that.  If you'd like a clean look, I can do that.  One of my favorite things is showing you the immense {Heritage Makers template gallery} and letting you pick a specific template you like.  One of the best things about a Heritage Makers template is that it's fully editable, so you can tell me, "I like this one, but take off all the flowers," and I can do it!  Using a template ends up faster, too, since I don't have to design each page from scratch, and since I charge an hourly fee, you save a bit of money, too.

You can read {why I choose Heritage Makers and what makes it the best} there at that link, and you can see a simpler digital book option (still the same high quality) as well as a paper scrapbooking option {right here}.

I can make any project you have in mind, from baby books to family yearbooks to graduation sign-in books and wire-bound cookbooks.  In fact, because of the variety of Heritage Makers products, I can create wall canvases, playing card decks, and even labels to make adorable chocolate favors for events or holidays.  If you missed the {digital DIY wedding} posts from last year, check them out at that link {and this part 2 link} to get an idea of everything that's possible, from invitations and creative save-the-date ideas to table place cards and gifts.

Let me be your memory-keeping partner.  You take the pictures and make the memories, then you share with me your favorites (both pictures and a little blurb about each one) so I can make those pictures and memories last.  {Here is the basic information} about how Scrapbooking For Hire (or any project) works.  For more details how it works, just {contact me} and I'll e-mail you a document outlining everything.

If you need a memory-keeping partner, don't put it off!  Memories get dimmer all the time, and photos left in digital form are always at the mercy of technology.  Let's get your photos out of the cloud and your memories out of your head into something that will be seen, held, and loved for generations.

Know anyone else who needs memory-keeping help?  Share!
E-mail, share on Facebook, Tweet, or Pin to Pinterest.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

My Best Methods for Organizing and Storing Digital Photos

Are you in {my Heritage Makers Facebook group}?  It's a great place for information and inspiration, but I love it when people use it to share projects they've created and to ask questions.

A few months ago, Angela posted a great question.  Here's her post:
"Looking for some advice on best methods of organizing and storing photos.  Please share your methods!  Go!  Thanks!"
This is a great question!  This is such a common question and common need that I want to share the answer with you, too.  Here's what I told Angela that I hope will be helpful to you also.

There's so much talk today on photo organization and storage that it can feel overwhelming and even impossible.  Some people even pay to have their photos stored.  But the purpose of a photo isn't to store it.  It's to see it.

So here's how I make sure my photos are taken care of, all the way around:  I store them digitally and in print, which are the two suggested ways for storing them.  (Experts say not to put all your eggs in one basket and that the safest way to store photos is in print.)  Storing photos in multiple ways might seem overwhelming, but the way I do it is actually really convenient--I only use one website for multiple methods!  Here's what I do:

  1. I store my photos in print (which, if you Google, is one of the safest ways to store them).  By "store in print," I mean that I publish my photos and memories using Heritage Makers books and/or individual scrap pages.  I choose {Heritage Makers for many reasons, most of which I have listed out here.}
  2. Because I use Heritage Makers, my completed projects (not just my photos) are saved in my Heritage Makers account in case of disaster, from a house fire to a kiddo spilling milk on it.  So I not only have my photos saved in printed books and scrap pages like the ones shown below, but this second method of saving my photos is that I have a digital backup of those books and scrap pages, too!

  1. I'm already uploading all my photos to my Heritage Makers account to make books and individual scrap pages.  They stay there in my account forever (as long as my account is active by being used every 18 months, which I always do).  Here's another super cool thing about Heritage Makers:   You can store all the photos that you've used in a project (like the ones shown above) FOR FREE.  That means that since I started using Heritage Makers in 2005, I now have 14 years' worth of digital photo storage... for free!  And storing my photos in my Heritage Makers account isn't just free--it's private.  (If you haven't heard yet that other photo companies sell your photos, be sure to {read this article ASAP}!)
  2. I save my photos on my computer before I upload them to my Heritage Makers account.  Computers {aren't the safest places to store photos}, but since I also back up my computer to an external hard drive once a month, my Photo Eggs aren't all in my Computer Basket.
  3. Once a year I order {a Millenniata CD from Heritage Makers} with all the pictures from that year on it.  Technically, if my computer crashes or something, I could just download all my photos back from my Heritage Makers account since they are stored there indefinitely (with my active account), but I like having another non-online source to have my digital pictures saved.
Experts say to store your photos one way in print and two ways digitally, so this is probably overkill by a tad, but I know my photos are SAFE and secure, plus I get to actually LOOK AT THEM in printed pages any time!  Print is where photos actually get loved.  

And I've saved my photos a total of FIVE ways in TWO methods (print and digital files) with not a lot of effort and minimal cost.

I personally organize my photos this way.  This video is 19 minutes of you essentially looking over my shoulder while I organize photos and explain my system.

I think the video is the best way to see what I'm talking about, but here are some pointers in written form for both physical (already printed) and digital photos.  Just click here to read:

My niece was here visiting for my daughter's graduation in May.  We were really busy most of the week (especially me), but it was fun to see that during downtime, my niece would pull out the scrapbooks and photo books I've made.  She and my son are the same age (22), and they enjoyed looking at pictures of themselves when they were babies "meeting" for the first time and toddlers playing together.  

That just wouldn't have happened if I'd had a CD or a flash drive sitting on the shelf.  The printed version, complete with details and memories written out, is what means something.

It's what pictures are for.

Get started preserving them with Heritage Makers {by following these steps}.  Because it's the BEST!  Really.

Share this blog post by Pinning, Tweeting, emailing, or Facebook sharing.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Yearbook Boot Camp - preserving a year's worth of pictures in 8 weeks!

Have you preserved your photos and memories from last year yet?  What about 2016?  Or 2012, for that matter.  If it's been a while, or if you feel a little lost about the best way to go about preserving the myriad pictures you've got on your phone, camera, cloud, computer, etc., do yourself a favor and come to Yearbook Boot Camp.   It's all online!  And it makes {a fantastic gift that is meaningful for decades to come}.  

UPDATE:  Yearbook Boot Camp runs in the following 8-week sessions, so you can RSVP/register for upcoming YBCs at any time.  (Minimum 4 attendees in order to hold the session.)
Session 1:  September 16 - November 4, 2019
Session 2:  January 27 - March 16, 2020 REGISTRATION DUE JANUARY 24, 2020
Session 3:  fall 2020, dates TBA

Here's a little 1-minute teaser about Yearbook Boot Camp, then you can keep reading to find out details.  

In 8 weeks you will preserve one year's worth of photos and memories in a high-quality, well-organized hardbound book that you can gift your family for the holidays if you like.

Every Monday morning of Boot Camp, we'll "meet" at a 10-20 minute video call where you'll receive your assignment for the week and plenty of resources to help you complete it.  (And each video call will be recorded and emailed to you to watch later in the day if you can't make the call live.)  Then you'll set aside approximately 1-3 hours per week to complete your assignments.

Look at what you could have in just 8 weeks!  And I'm not talking about bargain bin "photo books," either--these are heirloom quality, fully editable books!!

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

photo credit: Brooke Mehr

photo credit: Brooke Mehr
"Jennifer is so professional and knowledgeable.  It was an excellent experience start to finish and the best part is you actually finish a family yearbook!  It's something my family will always treasure."  -Candace, Washington

There are 3 Yearbook sizes and many styles to choose from.  Using a template makes it go quickly, and EDITABLE templates by Heritage Makers give you lots of freedom and flexibility to make the pages exactly what you want.  There are 2 pages dedicated to each month of the year, but you have the option to add more pages if you like.

photo credit: Heritage Makers Template Gallery
"Thank you for the workshop.  I have been scrapbooking for years but appreciate the format in which you broke it down in small chunks.  Never thought of that!  I'm happy to work with you." -Brenda

REGISTERING FOR YEARBOOK BOOT CAMP IS SO EASY!  Just email ASAP.  You'll receive an email with Venmo payment information.  Yearbook Boot Camp is only $20!  Once you're registered and paid, you'll receive an email with a link to our first video call (via Zoom).  

"This was a great boot camp!  I committed 3 hours a week (sometimes less) and I have a whole year of memories done for my kids.  This is super doable for anyone.  Jennifer was always super fast at responding and helping when I needed it."  -Elnora, New York

During Yearbook Boot Camp, I'll walk you right through all the steps of getting your pictures into something you can hold (and love!  and gift!).  The calls will only be about 10-20 minutes, depending on what we're talking about, and the assignments and helps (including step-by-step video tutorials) can be done whenever it's most convenient for you during the week.

photo credit: Heritage Makers Template Gallery

a screenshot of the page-by-page peek into the book shown above

Nothing better than that.

"Thank you Jennifer for doing the Yearbook Boot Camp.  As you know, I've done several calendars and storybooks with you, but you taught even this old dog some great new tricks that I will be able to use for years to come."  -Radeen, Colorado

Although this is (or can be) a physical gift you can give your family, it's also a personal gift that will keep on giving right back to you because you'll have the skills and knowledge you need to keep creating and preserving your precious photos and memories!

There's absolutely no time like the present, so don't delay!  (To register, all you have to do is email and tell me you're in.)  

See you soon at Yearbook Boot Camp!  

Just about everybody could use some help getting a handle on preserving their photos and memories,
so share this post on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your favorite social media platform!

"I love the way you have broken everything down.  I have ADHD and it's hard for me to keep up with things sometimes, but not this.  Your explanations are very clear.  I really appreciate it."  -anonymous

Thursday, August 1, 2019

How to Transition from Paper to Digital Scrapbooking

Memories fade, and photos in digital form are always at the mercy of technology.  Maybe even more important to remember, though, is the fact that photos and memories {have been shown} to increase our happiness, gratitude, and sense of belonging while also lowering stress and anxiety.

At this blog you've seen lots of examples of digital books, from {life storybooks} to {time-saving yearbooks}, but {paper/traditional scrapbooking} remains a favorite method for some people.  As I always say, it's important to find something you love so that you'll do it.  Looking forward to something you enjoy makes it easy.

But what if you're a {burned-out scrapbooker}?

Or what if you LOVE the hands-on method of cutting pictures and using fancy scissors and adorable stickers but you just don't have the time (or table space) any more?

Well, you're in luck.  I can help.

If you're a scrapbooker but find it hard to make time for handcrafted pages--or if you've never been a scrapbooker but just need a fun but high-quality way to preserve your photos and memories--come to my online class.  It's free and only about 30 minutes but will be jam-packed with information!

You'll learn how digital scrapbooking can help you work faster (while it's easier on the wallet) without giving up the hands-on aspects you love.

You've probably guessed, but it's VERY true that not all digital scrapbooking (or storybooking) is created equal.  At the class, I'll teach you what I've found is the BEST out there--not just how to scrapbook digitally, but where.

No paper scrapbooking required!  This class is for everyone who knows that pictures are important and that they matter to kids, families, and hearts.

Here's what Sherry, a paper-scrapbooking lover, said about her first experience with digital scrapbooking using Heritage Makers:

Come dip your toes in the world of digital scrapbooking and see what it can do for you.

UPDATE:  Here's the recording of this great class.

Do your friends a favor and share this with them!  Everyone needs a little more happiness in their lives, and pictures are one of the best ways to get it!  So let's make memory-keeping fun and easy.

Pin to save and share!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Antidote to the Emotional Toll of Social Media

In June, I shared my best time-saving hack with you: {Use Your Phone as a Phone}.  One of the things I looked at in preparation for writing that post was the effects that social media have on us.  When I googled it, all sorts of things came up about mental health dangers (in many forms) and how social media is disconnectingIsn't that the ultimate irony--something created to connect people actually has the opposite result?  As it turns out, social media takes quite a toll on us!

In reading articles about what social media does to us (two of which I'll share with you shortly), it occurred to me that I actually know the antidote to all these harmful effects!  So I am beyond thrilled to share them with you today.  We need an antidote to the emotional toll of social media.


I'll cite sources, but you will probably recognize the problems caused or exacerbated by social media use without needing sources, whether you recognize them in yourself or someone else.  They are, unfortunately, quite common.

The Independent published {this article} citing six ways social media negatively affects your mental health, which are:
  1. lowered self-esteem (which comes from comparing yourself to others)
  2. decreased human connection (including FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out, as well as fewer face-to-face interactions)
  3. disturbance of memory (spending so much time making sure you're posting the best photos that your memory of actual events is neglected and then forgotten)
  4. lack of sleep (using an electronic device too close to bedtime makes it harder to fall asleep; endless scrolling capability makes it harder to put the device down in the first place)
  5. decreased attention span (both from decrease in concentration and increase in addiction to social media)
  6. increased depression and anxiety (41% of people in a March 2018 poll said viewing social media made them feel anxious, sad, or depressed.)
"The Emotional Toll of Social Media" at adds a few more dangers of social media to our list:
  • having more "Facebook friends" than real friends (real=people to whom you'd send a wedding invitation or Christmas card)
  • feeling a sense of inadequacy (seeing only cookie cutter ideals and false standards)
  • cyber bullying (most common with children but not unheard of with adults)
  • feelings of isolation (easy to feel like you've "connected" with others when it's actually just one-way)
  • being socially stunted (with too much "virtual" interaction and not enough eye contact and hand-shaking)
  • stress (all of the above)

Many Millennials and Gen X-ers who are literally "connected" to thousands of people online suffer from loneliness.  At {a conference on loneliness among young adults} presented by University of Delaware professor Dawn Fallik and Brigham Young University professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad in March, so many young people registered that they had to add another session.  Imagine a whole room full of lonely youth, complete with the irony.  Twice.


Of course, one of the biggest solutions to the emotional toll of social media is to cut down on social media use.  You may remember some of my suggestions for how to do this in the "Use Your Phone as a Phone" article I referenced in the first paragraph of this post.  I share my experience there plus seven fantastic suggestions from Michele Tripple.  If you pick up your phone or login to Facebook more often than you should for good mental health, definitely check out that article.  (Link in the first paragraph of this post.)

The antidote, though, is something else.  An antidote combats a poison.  It counteracts or prevents a disease or other unwanted effect.  So if you've been depressed or stressed or felt inadequate because of social media, here's the fix to that!

It's something you may or may not have heard of:  Memory-Keeping.  If you click on the tab in purple at the top of this blog (under the header) that says {"benefits of memory-keeping,"} you'll find links to several articles, but here's a summary of what memory-keeping has been shown in studies to do:
  • reduce stress
  • lower rates of anxiety and depression
  • increase a sense of belonging and purpose
  • increase connections (to family members, friends, and life in general)
  • increase happiness (even more than chocolate and wine, the most common "go-to"s for boosting mood)
  • increase self-esteem
  • increase gratitude
It's true!  Memory-keeping can do all that.  


If you missed my article last November, {"What is Memory-Keeping? And Why Does it Matter?"}, you can hop over there for the details.  In short, though, memory-keeping is doing something with your photos and memories.  Sometimes people throw around the word "scrapbooking," but memory-keeping isn't exactly that.  It certainly can be, but doesn't have to be.

Both photos and journaling are how we record our life's experiences.  All too often, though, we don't make the time to go through photos and do something with them.  Photos are most often left in what I call JPEG Jail.  They stay on cameras or phones or computers, never to be seen again.  The process of choosing favorite photos and giving them a HOME (a tangible place for them to live, such as a book or album) and writing down our memories is Memory-Keeping.  It's organizing and giving meaning to our life's experiences.  It's reminiscing about good times and appreciating that we made it through the bad ones.  

I often hear people say they don't have time for memory-keeping.  It's unfortunate that we make time for social media and its potentially damaging effects while the antidote to those effects is right at our fingertips.  Ironically, we would all have more time for memory-keeping if we allowed less time for social media.  

Re-visit that list of the benefits of memory-keeping in those bullet points above.  Those things are not just things we want.  They are things we need.  We need less stress.  We need more connections with loved ones and more happiness.  


If you're ready to combat the depressive effects of social media, it's time to make time for memory-keeping.  Here are five steps to begin a memory-keeping habit:
  1. Set aside time.  We never "find time"--we make it.  You probably set aside time for other self-care such as haircuts and exercise and time with friends.  Setting aside time for memory-keeping isn't any different.  Choose a time that works for you, then put it on your calendar and keep your commitment to yourself.  It could be every Friday night or the first Sunday of every month.  I have a lot of resources and ideas for creating time for yourself at the {"don't have time?"} link in purple at the top of this blog if you need it.  If doing this with another person would help you, team up with someone else who needs the positive effects of being a memory-keeper, too!
  2. Go through your photos regularly.  Delete garbage photos (pictures of your finger or 12 pictures of the same thing) immediately!  Get your photos off your phone or camera regularly, too.  Set aside specific time for it if you have to.  Saving photos from your phone/camera to your computer is smart photo storage since you'll then have your photos in more than one place, but it also puts the photos in a place where you can actually do something with them.  From your computer, you can print them or create {a digital book or scrap pages} with them.  If you don't know {how to get your pictures from your phone to your computer, this short video} shows you how. 
  3. Organize your photos.  With the hoards of photos people often have, this can be a daunting prospect, but don't let it!!  This can be a really fun part of memory-keeping!  Seeing your photos and reminiscing has been shown in studies to increase your happiness!  Because memory-keeping involves doing something with your pictures, not just seeing them, though, organizing is an important step.  You have to know what you have and where those pictures are before you can do anything with them.  If you have digital photos to organize, you can see my method (and copy it!) if you like here at this {"organizing photos demo" video}.  If you have printed or physical photos to organize, find strategies at {"How to Organize Both Printed and Digital Photos."Please don't feel like you have to keep or preserve every photo you take.  Generally speaking, we just have too many for that nowadays.  Preserve just your favorites.  
  4. Choose your weapon.  There are lots and lots of ways to preserve your photos and record your memories.  It's important that it fit your style, interest, and budget, but it's equally as important (maybe a tad more!) that the memory-keeping method you choose be high-quality!  You don't want something this important to fall apart a few years from now.  I only recommend high-quality methods, and you can see {my top memory-keeping recommendations} right there at that link. Remember that you're not just finding a tangible home for your photos!  As important as that is, writing down your memories and experiences is vital.  You need a method that will support all the journaling you want to do.
  5. Start!  If you haven't been a memory-keeper before, just start.  Start with something small like looking through your photos and deleting some you don't need.  Or start by looking through memory-keeping methods you might like to use.  Don't get overwhelmed.  Do something small and enjoyable first and then your excitement will propel you from there.  And speaking of starting small, I suggest that you begin your memory-keeping with whatever is easiest.  Do you want to preserve the photos you have on your phone right now and do a {yearbook} from last year?  Do you want to write a {life story for yourself}, starting with baby pictures?   Or do you want to start with an event--the wedding, the graduation, etc?  Start with whatever sounds easiest!


I know that using something you already have--your own photos and memories--seems like a pretty simple way to truly combat serious problems such as depression and loneliness.  While not a replacement for medication if it's needed, memory-keeping is a much more powerful thing than we give it credit for.  It's {good for kids} and equally good for the big kids we call adults.  

While social media use can contribute to feelings of sadness and isolation, memory-keeping engenders connection--connection with family and friends, connection to your purpose and value, and connection to your own heart.  In his compelling Ted Talk, {"Everything You Know About Addiction is Wrong,"} Johann Hari even says that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety.  It's connection.  

So what are we waiting for?

I suggest you {get started right here}.
Share this important message by Pinning this image or sharing on Facebook or Twitter.