Why Elyse Fox Won’t Log on to Instagram Before Noon
The Simple Things

Why Elyse Fox Won’t Log on to Instagram Before Noon

The Sad Girls Club founder on setting social media boundaries and teaching her parents about self-care.

Welcome to The Simple Things, a wellness series dedicated to the routines and rituals that bring a sense of well-being to our daily lives. As the name implies, sometimes it’s not about making seismic shifts in our day-to-day—simple actions can be just as impactful for ourselves and for those in our community. This week, we’re chatting with Elyse Fox, the New York-based founder of Sad Girls Club—a nonprofit committed to creating spaces for community and conversation around mental health. Read on for her approach to creating a healthy social media regimen, staying connected to friends, introducing her parents to self-care, and more.

Are you a morning person?

"I have become a morning person since I had a baby. It kind of forces you to be a morning person. But I really do my best work early in the morning—5 a.m. or 6 a.m. has become my sweet spot."

Woah, so you wake up at 5 every morning?

"I wake up around 5:15 a.m. and my son typically wakes up at 5:30. Waking up at that time helps me because there’s nothing to do online. That early in the morning I’m not tempted to check anything or look at anything so I wake up with ease."

It’s like you’re waking up before the world. Do you have a strict morning routine?

"I do. That’s the one thing within my routine that’s very consistent. I try to give gratitude every morning, whether I’m still lying in bed or sitting up to meditate and chant. And I always have to drink a whole bottle of water to make sure I start the day off right. Even if I don’t eat anything for hours, at least I’ve had my water. Then I brush my teeth and do my skincare routine—that kind of puts a bow on feeling ready for the day."

A few years ago you mentioned that travel and friends were the most powerful tools to help you navigate seasons of depression. Now that we’re coming out of a season where both of those things were essentially off-limits, have you found new ways to navigate those lows?

"I had to learn different ways to connect with people. It really hit me hard when I couldn’t travel anymore because I was someone who would hop on a plane every two weeks and go somewhere new. And that’s how I was able to experience my friends as well because I would bring them along. It was a way for me to take my friends out of their comfort zones and for us to experience something new together, which is kind of hard for us to do now as well. But I learned to stay connected using voice notes. I was never a voice note girl before the pandemic, but it’s really dope to check up on your friends by actually hearing their voices. We can’t always be on the phone the way our moms used to be on the phone for two or three hours talking to our aunties, but I can send a voice note. We’re able to have a flow that works for all of us without putting too much pressure on anyone because I know they’ll get back to me when they will."

I love that. I used to think that those friends who only sent voice notes were annoying, but you completely changed my perspective. I really do love hearing my friends’ voices.

"Yes, but like, don’t send me a five-minute voice note. A sweet spot is one minute and 15 seconds or less."

How do you find balance on social media? It can be so challenging to balance or reconcile using it as a tool to connect without feeling so consumed by it.

"I feel like when the seasons change, that affects our habits online. I have no scientific backing on that, I just feel this way. In the winter in New York, I’m more prone to wanting to be on my phone and in the summer I can go without it. I’ve set really strict boundaries with myself on social media. May is my only exception because it’s Mental Health Month and I have to make sure that I’m engaging on social media, but every other month I’m not on social media before 12 p.m. or after 9 p.m. I also use my platform for different reasons. Instagram is more like my business page, but TikTok is like Tumblr for me. That’s where I go for inspiration and laughs. I know what I use each platform for and when I’m not using them for those reasons, I ask myself, why am I even on here?"

Online and IRL, what is your relationship to wellness?

"I think it’s about self-auditing and creating communal space. I’m very big on personal relationships. I have a small group of friends and a small family and I’m working on being more tapped into my friends and family group. For myself, if things are not going to my liking, I have to look at myself and ask, ‘What role am I playing in this?’ and ‘What can I do better?’ Or celebrate when I’m doing a great job. I’m always trying to self-audit."

Bringing those conversations to our families can be challenging. I wasn’t raised in an environment where I was immersed in conversations about wellness and mental health, and I've read that you weren’t either. What did it look like to encourage your parents to unlearn those patterns?

"It was tricky in the beginning. My father is from the Bronx and he was always that ‘manly man.' My mom is a first-generation immigrant from St. Kitts, so she’s never learned about self-care. My dad immediately got it. We understand each other very well. But with my mom, there was a bit of strain. As a child in a Caribbean community, you’re supposed to stay in a child’s place. But I had to put my foot down and say, ‘I’m an adult and this is how I feel. If you’re not open to hearing it, that’s fine. But these are my boundaries.’ It was tricky, but she’s now learning about what self-care actually means to her. It’s so cute to see her finally taking care of herself and experiencing things for the first time while also understanding new ways to communicate. How I parent my son is way different from how she parented me and I think she’s picking up on things that are super beneficial to her. But it was definitely a struggle in the beginning."

As a New York native, where in the city do you feel most at peace?

"There’s this gallery space that my friend showed me a while ago called Patrick Parrish Gallery. They basically let you touch all of the artwork—you can play with it, you can sit down on the furniture, and there’s a lot of great architecture there. It’s super small, but very calming. I go there when I want to feel inspired. I also love Hyland Park. I go there with my son and we put our feet in the grass."

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