6 Ways To Improve Your Relationship With Social Media
Recently, I’ve been polling my Instagram audience to find out who some of their favorite accounts are on a variety of topics: mental health, body positivity, positive relationships with food, etc. Although the topics differ, the underlying theme is the same — people helping to lift others up through education, information, or personal experience.
There are a lot of ways to use social media, and the amount of time plus the accounts you follow can have a serious impact on things like mental health and life perspective. A study from earlier this year by Johns Hopkins University found that “young people who spend more than 3 hours a day on social media are susceptible to depression, anxiety and other illnesses and are more likely to internalize bad feelings about themselves.”
I have certainly had an up and down relationship with social media and I’m no stranger to feeling the negative effects that can occur if you’re not mindful about how you use it. If you’re finding yourself struggling and overwhelmed, here are six ways to improve your relationship with social media that have helped me.
Stop mindlessly scrolling
It can become a habit when you’re bored or feeling something you want to ignore to open up social media. I’m 100% guilty of it and know it takes attention to try and change. The next time you go to open a social media app, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you uncomfortable? Bored? Lonely? Try to focus on using social media intentionally rather than out of habit.
Examine your physical reactions to posts
Really pay attention to how posts make you feel physically. There would be times when I would see a post that made me feel angry and my heart rate increased, my palms became sweaty, and my stomach just felt off. I counter that with posts that I see today that make me smile or make me feel warm because I’ve connected with whatever the image or, more likely, the caption has conveyed.
Are things making you feel negatively? It might be time to unfollow.
Ask yourself why
Why do you follow the people and accounts that you do? Do they bring you joy? Inspiration? Do you learn from them?
I’ve started using social media as more than just a mindless time suck. I use it to learn (from CREDIBLE and CREDENTIALED people), get food inspiration, and to see the beauty that others can create through their photography. I no longer use it because “so and so is pretty” or “they have a big following.” Just because everyone else follows them doesn’t mean that what they have to say enriches my life in any way.
Go through and think about the why behind the accounts you follow. What served you in the past may not serve you anymore.
Unfollow accounts that no longer serve you
It seems like a simple click of a button, but we can get so used to the content we see on a regular basis that it makes it hard to consider removing it. There have been several accounts over the years that I became preoccupied with – whether to hate follow them (it’s a thing) or compare myself or any number of negative reasons. Once I hit that unfollow button, however, so much space in my head cleared up and I was able to focus on things that brought positivity into my life.
Follow accounts that align with more positive messages
Because there are SO many accounts across various social media platforms, I like to rely on others to help me find ones that I will like. Just like any type of referral from a friend or family member tends to hold more weight, those accounts that come from referrals I am more likely to follow.
If you’re not sure where to start, just ask! I’ve started compiling accounts to follow in a highlight on my Instagram account, so feel free to check there. Also feel free to leave any that you recommend in the comments below so that others can find them.
If asking others isn’t helping, try searching for certain terms that convey what you’re looking for. Things like “body positivity,” “mental health,” and “inspiring quotes” are some to help you get started. What makes you happy? (Puppies). What do you need help with? Search for that.
A note to be mindful about certain terms like “healthy eating” or “healthy ______.” Often, but certainly not always, these terms can be used to promote disordered behaviors that may do the opposite of what you’re looking for. Not sure how to tell the difference? There’s an e-book for that. 🙂
Take a break altogether
There’s no NEED for you to live in the world of social media, and many people choose not to. If you’re still interested in the experience, but are feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, maybe you need a break.
Many people I know simply choose to walk away for a period of time. This looks different for everyone, but some of the most popular options are:
- Uninstalling apps
- Turning phone on airplane mode for a specific period of time
- Logging out for “x” amount of time
- Taking a break on weekends
Whatever you choose to do, know that you’re in control of how you take in information. If something no longer works for you, you’re free to let it go.