Social media is well and truly ingrained in our daily lives. So much so, that it’s almost become taboo if you’re not active on the popular social apps. Be honest - how long can you last without scrolling the ‘gram? Truthfully, many of us aren’t even aware how much time we actually spend on social media - it’s the last thing many of us look at before we go to bed and the first thing we check when we wake up. Sound familiar?
If the thought of missing out on a notification makes you break out in a sweat, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship with social media and enforce some new healthy habits.
Social media has revolutionised the way we view, access and share information - we can get the latest news headline in a click, instantly check-in with a friend on the other side of the world, and even create an income at the tap of a button. It can inspire us, connect us, and make us laugh until we can’t breathe!
But social media can also be a hindrance to our mental health.
With so much accessibility at our fingertips, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by how much we’re consuming each day. The comparison side of things is also not so fun - social media is where people tend to share their highlight reel, a small 5% of their life, but it’s enough to enforce feelings of comparison, low self-esteem, and pressure to stay relevant. Not to mention, the ‘always available’ mentality can leave us feeling emotionally and physically drained.
If you’re ready to reevaluate your relationship with social media and create balance so that it has a positive presence in your life, here are some tips for healthy social media habits.
Be intentional and use your phone with purpose: When you want to use your phone, consider the reason why. If it involves negative coping behaviours like avoidance of an activity, think about how you can better handle that feeling. When you find yourself scrolling on auto-pilot, bring awareness to what you’re doing, being mindful of what you’re seeing, thinking and feeling.
Set time boundaries: You need to allow yourself downtime throughout your day. Schedule technology-free hours every day, especially while you work, as it will help boost your productivity and focus.
Try not to look at your phone for at least an hour after you wake up in the morning. As easy as it is to pick up your phone and start scrolling from your bed, it may not be the healthiest way to begin your day, as you cannot control what you’re going to see. Seeing something negative could potentially contribute negative subconscious thoughts. Instead start your day with mindfulness practice, such as a 10 minute meditation, journaling, breath work, reading, or positive affirmations.
You should also try to log off of social media and shut down your screens about an hour before bedtime. The blue light from our phones and other devices can negatively impact how well we sleep.
Only follow accounts that bring you joy: Are there any upsetting posts that pop up as you scroll through your feed? Unfollow, block or mute content that bothers you. A lot of social media content is highly curated and may represent lifestyles and attitudes that don’t exist. To account for this, consider limiting the number of people you follow on social media. Follow those who are close to you, make you feel good, and will be there when you need them.
Focus on inspiration rather than comparison: Social media is a highlight reel of people’s lives. Seeing the successes and picture-perfect moments of other people’s lives might make your daily life seem a little boring or lacklustre in comparison. But remember that these moments aren’t representative of someone’s whole life, and behind the screen that person is probably struggling with a lot of the same things you are. Instead of comparing your daily life to someone else’s Instagram, view posts as inspiration for you to work toward your own goals.
Think before posting or commenting: Always think about what you’re sending out to the world. Before you hit send on a post or comment, consider whether it’s spreading positivity and kindness. You can help make social media a healthy place to be by avoiding trolls or online arguments and fostering a community of support and positivity among your friends or followers, as well as those who you follow. If you feel the urge to leave a nasty comment or attack someone’s behaviour, stop and reflect on why you feel that way - what is triggering you and why are you projecting?
Turn off notifications: Oxford University published a paper on digital health and found that “problematic smartphone use is facilitated by characteristics of the technology including the frequency of alerts and messages. Popular apps, like the Facebook app, are designed in ways that increase the amount of time people spend on them.” You might think that you're keeping yourself in the loop by receiving constant updates on what’s happening in the world, but it’s also very distracting. If you're being interrupted by notifications several times in an hour you are never properly focused on the task at hand, and will find yourself reaching for your phone time and time again. Turn off as many notifications as you can live without.
Don’t forget to live in the moment: Photos and videos have their place, but awareness of the present moment is crucial to your connections and experiences. Capture that amazing sunset or Insta-worthy meal, but don’t forget to enjoy it, too.
Take a break when you need it: Listen to your body, thoughts and feelings. If you notice that using social media is impacting your mood more than it should, it’s a good idea to take a break. Unplugging helps you recharge your batteries and helps you refocus on what’s most important in your life. Here are some ways to unplug when you need a digital detox.
Final takeaway: While being on social media can help enhance your life in many ways, it can also easily become an additional stressor and hindrance on your mental health. Try implementing some of these tips to help you create healthy social media habits that allow balance in your life and protect your mental health. And always remember to make your social media presence a positive force rather than a negative one.
What are you healthy social media habits? Leave a comment below!