Do you cringe when you see the amount of hours your screen time logged at the end of the week? We do too. We often get lost scrolling on and on in our feeds, realizing later that we’ve been drawn in. It can be the last thing we see before we go to sleep as well as the first thing we see when we wake up. It has become a way for people to stay connected when apart, network within the business world, generate new ideas, change a perspective, and even escape a reality. But to what extent can social media have on our mental health? There is a correlation with the increase of depression that has risen in tandem with the increase in smartphone usage. Today, people spend an average of 4.7 hours a day on their smartphones checking social sites. Finding a strong balance and healthy habits while using social media can play a big part in that. Viv wants to help you shape some ideas that may help to build a secure relationship with social media.
- Track the time you use your smartphone.
Some of the smartest people in the world spend their days designing platforms to draw you in as a consumer. Social media is addictive for a reason. To regulate this, set times when you can surf the internet, as well as times when you can ignore notifications- especially when you’re spending time with friends and family or before you go to bed. The blue light from your screen suppresses the secretion of melatonin in your brain which can directly affect your sleep. Set downtime on your phone so that social media apps won’t send notifications to distract you.
- Be clear about what your purpose is when you log into social media and stick to it!
It is always easy to go online to double check the date of your friend’s birthday, but hours later when you are scrolling through memes or funny videos you will wonder where the time went. Be mindful about why you are logging on and be mindful when to log off. If you go on snapchat or twitter to get the daily news or sports updates make sure to limit yourself. In other words- don’t get lost in the social media maze.
- Use other’s posts as inspiration and not a comparison.
Watching others post their successes or picture perfect moments may make you feel like you are missing out. Social media can be seen as highly curated with people's life highlights. As a user, you can grow envy or FOMO towards your peers. If you choose to keep toxic people out of your life, why would you not reflect the same in social media? Find the posts that will add value to your day. Unfollow or hide the accounts that don’t bring you positivity. Rather use these posts to be inspiration to work towards your own goals and not let them take over.
- Take a detox!
Sometimes what you need is a digital detox. Whether it be a couple weeks or a weekend, some time away from the phone and media can shift your focus onto other, more important things. When you are addicted to something you are biased to the suggestions of quitting; it can seem scary to separate from something so comforting. Spend that time with family and friends, outside appreciating nature, working on a hobby, exercising, or working on yourself. A detox may also mean limiting your usage to 10 minutes a day for a couple weeks. It will give you a reason to reconnect with the real world and allow you to live in the moment. You may even see an overall shift in your mood, anxiety, or stress levels if you try a detox.
“Spending time on social media tends not to be in real time”- psychologist Jean Twenge and author of iGen
In the past I have done social media detoxes lasting months at a time. The first couple days are tough, sometimes weeks, but you eventually forget what it feels like to have an urge to pick up your phone and look at your peers glorious lifestyles- you are left with your thoughts instead. To some extent, it really helped me realize who I genuinely wanted to stay in touch with as well as who wanted to stay in touch with me. Writing this blog, it sheds a light to me on my relationship with social media today. My job entails checking social media accounts numerous times throughout the day. Moving forward, every time I log into Instagram or Snapchat I will pay attention to its purpose. Rather than getting lost in my soft spot, new vegetarian recipes or boujee travel destinations, I will follow my log off times closely.