The irony of reading this on a screen and possibly linked from a social media post is obvious. Social media is not all bad, and in fact, allows us to access a vast array of useful information and connection with one another. However, many of us have become unknowingly addicted to social media, our devices, and endless browsing, to which there are real downsides.
Like anything else, the key is balance. The purpose of these tips is not to villainize social media, or torture ourselves by abstaining from things we like or disconnecting people we love. It's about leaving room to be more present, and in the moment, versus always thinking ahead to how you're going to share something with your audience, being distracted by your phone all the time, or stuck in loops of comparison.
Beautiful moments can happen, without them being shared in a post.
There is growing evidence that excessive social media usage contributes to higher levels of anxiety and lower self-esteem. Things like constant comparison and external validation are prevalent while one spends endless hours scrolling. We are hard-wired as a species to want social validation, acceptance, and approval. We are not however made to receive these things daily through the click of like buttons.
Here are 10 things you can do to make your social media use more sustainable, less addicting, and find what unique balance works for you.
1. Don't check your phone or social media first thing in the morning
When you awake is the ripest time you have for meditation, yoga, and to get your head on right for the day ahead. However, many of us go for our phone first thing in the morning. Even 15 to 30 minutes of mindfulness first thing in the morning before reaching for your phone or going onto Instagram, can have a massive benefit on the rest of your day.
2. Don't check your phone or social media right before bed either
Similar to the morning, the moments before you drift off into slumber are powerful to start your next day off on a good foot. Do you fall asleep scrolling each night? If so, try to turn it off, even 30 minutes before bed, to give yourself space to clear your head from the day before.
3. Pick a day a week of the week where you sign off completely
You can pick and choose how much time is suitable for you here. Maybe a day without your phone is not an option, but a day without going onto Facebook is. Find what feels doable, but just uncomfortable enough that you get a real break from social media and your devices.
4. Delete your social media accounts for a month (or week) at a time
Again, this one might not be for everyone, as we live in a time where many use these platforms for work and business. However, what I found was that after a few weeks of not participating in social media, my anxiety levels went way down, I felt more present in my in-person relationships, and I could have good moments in life without thinking about how I was going to portray them with others.
5. Go for a walk in nature without your phone
Plain and simple, there is nothing like going back to the Earth to reconnect with yourself and drown out the noise from the outside. If you need to drive to nature, leave your phone in your car. You might notice incessant urges to grab for it frequently!
6. Do something epic without sharing it with anyone
Yes, it's possible. The world outside of our screens is also beautiful and worthwhile. You can have sweet moments without anyone but yourself and the others there, knowing about them.
7. List out what you love using social media
This is where the biggest variation often occurs. When surveyed, people report their favorite things about using social media to be the things you'd expect. Things like staying connected to loved ones, getting life updates from friends who don't live nearby, and staying connected usually top the list.
However, when this list is compared to how people actually spend their time on social media, there is a massive disconnect. People spend hours upon hours mindlessly browsing instead of using the tools how they say they like to use them. Get clear on why you're active on these platforms, and you're more likely to be intentional about how you use them.
8. Learn more about the addictive nature of social media
Books like Digital Minimalism and the film like The Social Dilemma, go in-depth about how technology companies have designed these apps to get us hooked and how they profit from the more time we spend browsing. Information is knowledge and understanding why we get addicted to these platforms in the first place, can make us more empowered to not be controlled by them.
9. Prioritize mental health and good habits
More than fighting things you don't want, like social media addiction, focus on adding more good habits, like a daily yoga practice, reading books, or meditating. Even if you lose control of your social media habits, you can take solace that you're also doing other things with your time that benefit you. It's not about being perfect.
10. Don't fight with people online
Guess what? Trying to change someone's mind or political views on Facebook, never really works. Usually, a political fight online ends up in frustration or outrage. Save your energy for something worthwhile and do your best to not get lost in neverending online arguments. You're not going to change everyone's worldview to suit your own. The days before social media revealed every political, religious, or social thought one had at any given moment, did exist. This transparency has taken away the ability to get to know someone in a genuine way. We all have different perspectives based on different life experiences. While I don’t agree with everyone, I’d like to be able to make my own opinions of people based on actual experiences and not their Facebook posts.
By Keith Allen
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