5 Tips for a Healthier Approach to Social Media
Social media has become almost an essential part of our lives, even more so during lockdown, with most people having a presence on at least one media platform. Research conducted has expressed the positive and negative impacts social media can have on mental wellbeing, emphasising that its impact is determined by the habits of the user. Becoming addicted to social media is not difficult, and many of us have likely experienced the draining feeling from continuously scrolling through feeds and letting the content affect us negatively.
Having a healthy balance and the right approach to social media makes it a positive presence in your life, and something which is beneficial rather than draining. These five tips will help you to achieve this.
Take control of your usage
The key to using social media in a healthy way is to control it rather than letting it control you. Be disciplined with it, and set aside time where you don’t have your phone right next to you and can’t log in to any sites. This allows you to be more present in the moment, undistracted by a new notification or getting a good instagram photo. It can be helpful to leave your phone in another room while you are socialising, or even turn it off for a while, if you can.
Deleting networking apps from your phone such as Facebook and Instagram means you spend significantly less time on social media. According to research, 40% of mobile phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, so removing these apps means you only access social media via a computer and not when you’re hanging out with friends. It also means the time spent on the sites is much more intentional, with less mindless scrolling and more meaningful social interactions online.
Several networking apps come with a built-in timer feature, allowing the app to notify you when you’ve exceeded a certain amount of time using it. This allows you to manage your time more efficiently and become more aware of how much you are using social media.
Switching to a traditional alarm clock means you don’t have to sleep with your phone beside your pillow and will not spend hours on social media before going to sleep, or just after waking up.
Be inspired, not compared
It’s easy to look at other people’s posts on social media and compare their picture-perfect lives to yours. But remember that we often only show the good, and not the bad or the ugly, and these people may well be facing similar struggles to you.
Our social accounts are usually a highlight reel and not a behind-the-scenes feature, so you should not compare your life to someone else’s Instagram feed.
Don’t be disheartened by the overwhelming stream of content on your socials, but rather use it as motivation for achieving your own goals. Instagram, and other social platforms, are places of great beauty and creativity once you start using them to build yourself up, rather than tear yourself down.
Positive vibes only
Social media was not created to make people sad, so don’t let it. Your online social space should be a place which brings value and positivity to your life. Don’t be afraid to unfollow accounts which are cultivating stress and negativity, whether they are impersonal accounts or people you know. You have the power to tap those people out of your life for the sake of your own wellbeing, so use it.
Equally, make sure that what you are putting out there is not going to upset or disturb other people. That doesn’t mean we don’t have freedom in what we post, but consider what you are posting and whether it is something you would like to see in your own feed.
Keep it natural
Being careful about what you post online includes keeping things authentic as well. While your posts will naturally display a highlight reel of your life, and while filters are just amazing, you should keep it as natural as possible. Don’t let social media become a place where you overcompensate for areas in life where you’re not as happy.
Comparison culture among both men and women is a nasty side effect of social media usage. Just as you struggle seeing a photo of a perfectly sculpted body with almost unachievable standards, think twice before posting a picture which isn’t completely, authentically you. You could end up hurting someone else mentally.
Take a break
Reclaim your time and re-learn what really makes you happy by taking a social media break. This trick is not just for high-profile celebrities, it is highly recommended to anyone and could be the healthiest boundary you set for yourself. Cutting yourself off completely for short periods at a time allows you to do the things you really want to do, rather than just for the ‘gram.
A lot of the time, social media platforms can feel like ‘noisy’ spaces which easily fuel stress, anxiety and depression. Removing it from your life can significantly improve your mental health and refocus your attention on the here and now. By disconnecting yourself, you will notice relationships in your life growing stronger and more meaningful. Social occasions are less about getting that perfect boomerang story, and more about connecting with each other on a deeper level.
It can be a huge sigh of relief to let go of that world for a while, it can improve your work life as well as your personal life, and will change your overall attitude towards social media upon your return, should you choose to come back…
Written by Emily Wright
Emily is a media graduate and a keen writer. She enjoys exploring topics such as mental health and social politics, with a particular interest for how new technology can affect both mental and physical wellbeing.