When Amber Discko was working seven days a week, doing social media for Hillary Clinton's campaign, she realized that, in the midst of her hectic work life, she wasn't really taking care of herself. So, she created Aloe to fix that.
"I saw someone tweeted, 'Have you remembered to have water in the last hour?' And I was like, 'You know what? No, I haven't,'" Discko says. After printing the tweet and hanging it by her desk, she thought to take it a step further by working with a friend to create a self care-driven Twitter bot. "We worked together to come up with this idea for Aloe to be a garden—a Twitter garden. We use emojis as resources to help flowers grow. The bot tweets automatic reminders every few hours to keep people checking in with themselves, asking followers to tweet specific emojis to nourish the garden."
'Self-care shouldn't mean spending lavish amounts of money on things that give you temporary satisfaction.'
With a background creating online communities (Discko founded Femsplain, a site filled with personal essays by trans and cis women, as well as gender-nonconforming individuals), Aloe quickly found a welcome audience. Now, Discko is working to expand her concept of a digital self-care community by crowdfunding to create an app that will pull together all of Aloe's content in one convenient place.
"Aloe is a community, and it's a community that currently lives across Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and our newsletter," says Discko. "Across all of those channels are different types of content that help people check in with themselves—including messages like, 'Have you taken a 10-minute break from your screen in the last hour?' Aloe reminds people that it's OK to take breaks, especially since, with the news cycle, it's sometimes really hard to do."
Need help checking in with yourself? Below, Discko shares her top four tips.
Step No. 1: Stop the Social Media Spiral
Ever find yourself falling down a rabbithole of social-media stalking that leaves you feeling bad about yourself? Find a distraction! " I have a lot of group chats going," says Discko. "I constantly have conversations happening, so if I'm spiraling down social media on my phone, just having a notification pop up is a good way to distract myself." Need some other options? Set an alarm for yourself before scrolling through the day's postings: after five minutes, log off.
Step No. 2: Find a Community
If you don't get the support you need IRL, an online community can help you to check in with yourself. "The best way to find a community is to find people who have the same passions as you," says Discko. "And then going from there, see who they follow—seeing what hashtags they post and finding more people that way. It's really finding people who post things that you find interesting, and then just inserting yourself in the conversation by participating."
'Self-care is self-preservation, and you need to focus on the things that'll make you feel better both physically and mentally.'
On Twitter, you can join different chats by finding specific hashtags. Having a bad day? Femsplain's Twitter chat #LetMeFemsplain is a great resource for checking in with yourself and venting any frustrations.
Step No. 3: Don't Be Afraid of the Sidelines
Even the most accepting communities can be intimidating to join—so it's alright to take it slow at first. "Definitely don't feel bad being a lurker at first," says Discko. "If someone does post something that you really want to respond to, you should feel free to say something because chances are, if you have an interest in it, then the person is going to be similar to you, because they have similar interests. So, they should be friendly!" Reaching out can be scary, but when it results in a new friendship, it's worth it.
Step No. 4: Embrace the Basics
Aloe reminds its community to do simple tasks like drinking water, having a snack, and getting enough sleep, all because they're crucial acts for taking care of yourself. "Self-care shouldn't mean spending lavish amounts of money on things that give you temporary satisfaction. If you want to do that, then you totally should—but self-care is self-preservation, and you need to focus on the things that'll make you feel better both physically and mentally."
To learn more about Aloe, visit aloe.club and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @aloebud