Social media has become one of the biggest components of modern day life. From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook to Snapchat, it feels inescapable. You try to control yourself by deleting apps or logging off, but somehow, something or someone keeps calling you back. Something new comes out every few months and your friends pressure you to try it and next thing you know, you have 6 different apps that you check several times an hour and you find yourself getting lost watching videos of internet fights and kids doing the nene in math class. Some of us may try (and succeed) to give up on social media altogether, but when handled correctly social media can actually be beneficial to your life. At the very least it doesn’t have to control it, and here’s how.
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Busy yourself with other things
If you are finding yourself on social media for hours on end, odds are you are not filling your time up intentionally. This does not mean to be busy just for the sake of being busy, but occupy your time with some technology free activities if work, school, and family are not enough. When I found myself on social media too much, I took up some crafts to give my mind some healthy exercise away from my phone or computer. Taking some time to paint, go for a hike, or work on a puzzle or adult coloring book can really make a difference in how much time you even allow yourself on social media.
Get familiar with other apps that pour into you
This may come as a surprise, but there are other apps that don’t involve social media. My new favorite app is Calm. There are so many helpful exercises on Calm whether it’s breathing exercises, guided meditation, open meditation, sleep stories, or calendars to mark your progress. As soon as you open the app, there are calming sounds to shift your mind. My friend has a coloring app on her ipad and iphone and uses it as a calming distraction.
Pick your poison
There are a lot of options for this social media thing, but honestly you don’t need to be on them all. Even businesses don’t need to be on all social media sites so if you’re there to be social, you don’t need 5. Find which platform you feel most comfortable with and which platform you can gain the most from and stick with those. If they are the same platform, great, if not, you’ll have two and that’s fine. I like to stay at a maximum of 2.
Find a good book and carry it with you
When you’re out in public, you may not be able to whip out your paint by numbers or meditate, but you can pull out a good book rather than scroll through your timeline to past your time. I find that when I have the actual book in my hand instead of on an app, I am able to focus better and avoid distractions. Put your phone out of sight and put a book in your lap.
Follow with intentionality
Now that we’re done with what to do to minimize your time on social media, let’s talk about your time when you are actually there. Who you follow on social media impacts your experience SO MUCH. I understand that we all want to follow people we know or maybe the people we know want us to follow them and we don’t want to offend anyone, but this is your time we are talking about. Not just your time, but your mental wellbeing. Being intentional about who you follow will make a grand difference in the kind of content you are feeding yourself and maybe even the responses you receive when you share. Here are a few tips to making your social media feed beneficial for you:
- Unfollow people you only follow for aesthetic appeal – We all do it. For example, people like to look at pretty people, it’s why so many women and children become Instagram famous, it’s why the Kardashians are famous. There’s nothing wrong with following people for fitness inspiration, but ask yourself does looking at this person every day make me want to work out or just make me think, “wow, she’s gorgeous!” If it’s number two, that’s a pretty follow and you should probably click the unfollow button. Of course people can be pretty and be beneficial to your growth and wellness, but be honest with yourself about your real purpose for following and what you get out of their posts.
- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FOLLOW EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU EVER MET AND WENT TO SCHOOL WITH. I hear of people being annoyed with the people they follow and I always wonder, well why do you follow them? Do yourself a favor and don’t follow people just for the sake of following people, especially the ones who annoy you. Most people won’t even notice if you unfollow them. And if for some godforsaken reason they do AND they approach you about it, there is nothing wrong with explaining to them that it’s nothing against them but you’re being more intentional about your social media time and only following accounts that contribute to your self-growth.
- Now that the unnecessary accounts are gone, go follow some accounts that are helpful to your growth. What areas do you want to develop? Spiritual? Physical? Finances? I’m sure there are accounts for that. Look around and find the ones that work for you and give them a follow. If you don’t like them, give them the boot just like you did your junior prom date.
- Follow accounts on topics that interest you, but you are not that familiar with. Think of things that you want to learn more about, find the experts/influencers, and follow them. This doesn’t have to be all serious, but look for things that inspire. The blogs I follow change with what I’m currently dealing with in life. When I was pregnant, I followed pregnant and breastfeeding pages, now I follow baby food pages. You would be shocked at the decadent puree meals these moms are making. If you don’t have a baby, following chefs that post creative recipes would actually be helpful in not eating the same 4 things every month (totally ME).
- Don’t misunderstand me. I am not against following people just because they make you laugh. I, personally, prefer a less serious social media experience so I completely understand and there is nothing wrong with it. Having that humor can be a relaxing mental break…just don’t get trapped there for hours and you’re good.
Look, we’re all adults here. Challenges are all cool and fun, but for me to create sustainable change I need to create new realistic habits that fit my life. The objective is not to consistently be busy, but to live our best lives and find new ways to pour into ourselves. We can enjoy social media without letting it take over our lives. Below are some more, self-explanatory, tips that may be more helpful for you, if you need more structure to change.
- Turn off push notifications
- Designate a set time and time limit to be on social media every day
- Create a social media curfew
- Set up a personal social media reward system (i.e. If I work for an hour, I can break for 15 minutes on Twitter)