Social Media and Mental Health: How to Use Social Media Mindfully
Talking about negative effects social media has on our overall wellbeing has become somewhat of a cliché.
Is it actually possible to use social media mindfully? Opinions are split, but I’ve created a four-step guide that might give you some ideas if you’re feeling stuck (to your phone…)
Step 1: Limit the Number of Social Media Apps
My first tip for a mindful social media use journey is to start simply by tidying up your phone. And don’t worry, this doesn’t have to mean deleting every single possible app off your phone.
There are plenty of apps that you can use that will benefit you and perhaps even make you MORE mindful (Headspace or Calm are surely 2 of the strongest contenders).
But the more apps that you have, the more likely you are to be distracted. Turn off the need to always keep up with the world and start by deleting the apps that aren’t adding value to your life. Try it for a week or two just to see how it makes you feel.
Step 2: Set a Time Limit
Facebook and Instagram have recently announced plans to introduce time limit settings. This will allow users to cap the amount of time they wish to spend on their social media platforms and I’m all for it! To be frank, you don’t have to wait for Facebook to roll out their newest feature but can instead start setting your own limits right now.
One of the very best things you can do to start using social media more mindfully is to completely ignore it in the morning. I used to have a terrible habit of checking my social media and emails before getting out of bed. This would create an endless circle of anxiety and really set me up for bad, stressed out mornings. The same goes for checking social media right before going to sleep. If you’re finding it hard to cut down on phone use at night, why not dedicate a limited amount of time to social media every evening. For example, you can give yourself 30 minutes of social media use (important: NOT straight before going to bed) and slowly cut down to just a few minutes (or even to zero!).
Even though general rules like not checking social media in bed can be really useful, I encourage you to look at your own needs and create your own set of rules. This way you can be sure that lifestyle factors are taken into account.
Step 3: Turn Off Notifications
Social media notifications are NOT going to save you in an emergency situation. They are there to keep you distracted, so turning them off can provide an instant relief.
By turning off notifications you will still be able to catch up on all your favourite social media action, but won’t be that likely to open an app just because you’re bored. You will only open the app when you really want to use it, which is the very essence of mindful social media use.
Step 4: Encourage Mindful Content
Be strict (but creative) when following or liking new pages and people. Think outside the box and use social media to get inspired or share your creativity with the world. Following unrealistic expectations of what your body and life should look like is just setting yourself up for a disappointment. Instead, find people that encourage your creativity, teach you about your favourite hobby, introduce you to exciting new books and films and share useful knowledge.
Even Facebook doesn’t have to be the place to stalk your high school friends or put up with your politically incorrect uncle. Facebook provides the option to hide posts from people you don’t want to follow without them knowing about it. Whilst you get rid of toxic content, why not like some pages that inspire you to live a more meaningful life and fill your newsfeed with positive messages.
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