How much time do you spend using social media each day? You probably have no idea of the exact amount of time, because let’s face it, the standard answer would be too much time’. We’d probably frighten ourselves if we actually knew how many hours we were dedicating to Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter combined!
To be realistic, social media has become such a big part of our lives. It’s just become ‘the norm’ to pick up our phones and scroll, that we sometimes don’t even realise how much time we are spending scrolling through our feeds.
The question is: is it wasting time, or utilising time? Well, social media tends to usually be the last thing many of us look at before we go to bed every evening and the first thing we check when we wake up. But is our constant obsession affecting our mental health?
The answer lies within how you personally approach social media, and how you protect yourself and your mental health when constantly scrolling. How you absorb what you are reading and looking at, and how your mind acts after it.
Some studies have found that social media has positive impacts on people’s lives, while other studies have warned against the possible connection between social media, depression, and anxiety.
Whether social media has a positive or negative impact, it’s important to understand that either way, it has an impact, and it all depends on how the individual uses it. If you find a healthy balance and develop good habits, you could find that social media brings a positive presence in your life.
Give yourself a time limit
It might sound hard at first, but try to schedule a time to use social media, and then be aware of times to step away from it. What works for a lot of people is to mentally tell yourself to stop scrolling after 8pm, so that your mind isn’t fixated on technology as you wind down. You can set time aside time to browse social media, perhaps during your lunch hour, maybe a little break in your working day, or tell yourself it’s fine to browse as you please from 6-8. Then, set the times when you log off and ignore notifications.
It’s most important to cut down on social media use when you’re with friends and family, and like mentioned above, just before you go to bed. Putting your phone on airplane mode helps when you go to bed too, so you don’t get tempted by any pesky notifications.
Have a clear purpose
A good mindset to have when using social media is to always be clear about what your purpose is every time you choose to scroll. We’ve all been there: picking up our phones to check when someone's birthday is, and then an hour later we’re in a video loophole, watching someone's content when we don’t even know how we got there.
It’s about being strict with ourselves and constantly checking in. Keep asking yourself, ‘what am I getting from this?’. Then you’ll soon realise it’s time to put the phone – and the noisy videos – down.
Focus on inspiration, not comparison
Social media can be a fabulous resource for inspiration, although it’s easy to get inspiration and comparison mixed up. We’re all aware that social media shows you the ‘glossy’ snippets of someone’s life, but even though we know this, it can still make us feel dull.
Always have it in the forefront of your mind that behind each styled Instagram post or happy-as-larry Facebook album, there is someone behind it carefully curating what content is to be shown to others. What they have just posted is not a representation of their life every hour of every day. It’s merely an edited snapshot.
When you scroll, keep thinking of inspiration. Take what you can as something to fuel you, whether it be fuel towards a healthier lifestyle, being more active, taking care of your skin, or switching up your fashion. It’s also a good idea to be selective about who you follow. If seeing someone’s posts makes you feel inadequate time and time again, then you need to remove their feed you’re your life.
Pause before posting
It goes without saying, you should always take a moment before posting anything on the internet to think about what you are putting out there. We’ve probably all been guilty of a Twitter or Facebook rant, and now it’s even easier with Instagram stories.
Consider whether what you’re putting out there is spreading positivity. Your page is your space, and ideally, you want to avoid negativity or causing any friction with people who follow you.
Check-in with your mental health first
Always check in with yourself before going on a scrolling session, and see how you are feeling. If you feel a little down and low, the slightest thing on social media could trigger you. It might be better to go for a walk with a friend, grab a coffee or do some exercise instead of being sucked into the blue light.
Some people can also feel constantly stressed out with things like WhatsApp notifications constantly going off all day, so it could be worth looking at muting certain chats or turning off notifications if it’s affecting your daily mood.
Overall, remember that social media doesn’t have to be the devil, but it all depends on how you use it and how you personally react to it. It can indeed become an additional stressor and can kick-start feelings of jealousy and anger if you’re over-exposing yourself to it, or find yourself in constant comparison. You have control over how often you use it, and what you choose to see, so do utilize the tips above to help you create healthy social media habits that will only offer balance and inspiration to your life.