In the age of digitalization, we can feel more connected than ever before. With the availability and convenience of our smartphones, it seems we are always online and ready to connect with others. But, have you ever felt like you just cannot close that one app? Or felt anxious if you are not able to stay up-to-date on the latest posts? What about still feeling alone despite being connected? Experiences such as these may be indicators that you have developed a dependency on social media. The likes we receive, the comments on our posts and the resulting feelings of connectedness all fuel our desire to use social media. But while social media may be a great tool for staying in the loop, it may be having a detrimental impact on your well-being.
Frequent social media use can contribute to feelings of isolation, sadness, anxiety, and inadequacy. Constantly comparing ourselves to friends, family, celebrities, and others can make us feel dissatisfied with our activities, bodies, and overall lives. Indeed, comparison is the thief of happiness. If you feel that social media may be negatively impacting you, here are some tips to help you engage in a healthy way.
- Be intentional. We are all guilty of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or falling down the TikTok rabbit hole. Instead of scrolling on autopilot, be intentional with what you are seeking out on social media. Is it news? Recipes? Checking out your favourite influencer? Formulate a goal to focus your intention as you log on.
- Set limits. You have likely checked social media and before you know it, an hour or more has passed. Set a firm limit on your social media use, not only in frequency but also duration. Need help with this? Set a timer to remind yourself.
- Notice triggers. You may have realized that certain images, videos, and text evoke different feelings. Notice what makes you feel negative and take active steps to either unfollow, hide, or quickly scroll past such posts.
- Turn off notifications. Notifications can be hard to ignore and even cause anxiety when we feel as if we are missing out on something online. If this is the case for you, try turning off the notifications to feel more in control of your social media use.
- Educate yourself. Understanding the detrimental impact of social media use may be motivating to make some changes to your scrolling habits. A quick search on google will pull up vast research on this topic. The Netflix documentary titled “The Social Dilemma” provides an extensive look at how and why social media can cause us to feel the way we do and the addictive potential of these platforms.
- Foster a positive online environment. The negativity online can be unnerving and you may find yourself falling victim to unwanted comments or even being the culprit of negativity. Before posting, ask yourself if the comment you are about to make is true, necessary, and kind. If not, reconsider your post. For any unwanted negativity on your newsfeed, remember you have the power to unfriend or unfollow.
- Start your day another way. Most of us are in the habit of waking up and immediately checking our phones. Scrolling at the beginning of the day can invite negativity into your day even before you step out of bed. Try starting your day with a healthy routine to boost your mood and don’t be afraid to throw in some positive self-talk.
- Detox from social media. If you feel more negative than positive when engaging in social media, try taking a break. Deleting or removing the apps from your home screen reduces temptation and can help shift the habit of opening the app whenever you are on your phone.
- Ask for help if you are struggling. The difficult feelings that can arise from social media use are no joke. Take them seriously and seek out the support of a professional if they persist after trying the tips outlined above. Remember you are not alone in this struggle and reaching out to a professional can help you to feel better.