As social media becomes more and more ubiquitous, the more difficult it has become to manage our content consumption and screen time. According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, one in four Americans stay online “almost constantly”.
Though social media is an incredible resource, it can quickly take a toll on your health and overall wellbeing, if used in reckless abandon.
So, resist the urge to stay plugged in round the clock and follow these five healthy social media habits instead:
- Set clear usage limits. As with most things, moderation is the key when it comes to healthy social media usage. Create a social media routine by spending only a fixed amount of time online for personal use. It can be in the morning, during your commute or before dinnertime, whichever is most convenient for you. But avoid checking your phone before bedtime at all costs as it can adversely affect your sleep patterns. Use apps like Moment, RescueTime and BreakFree to ease into the habit. You might also want to check out this useful article on how to set realistic screen time limits.
- Use social media apps purposefully. Do you often come online to check something and somehow find yourself staring at a random video of say, badass poodles doing salsa, ten minutes later? Well, you’re not alone! However, if left unchecked, this seemingly harmless habit of mindless browsing can lead to anxiety, insomnia, depression, even social media addiction. Nix mindless scrolling by disabling unnecessary app notifications and logging into a site only when you have to. Whether you want to watch your favorite show, check your flight status, answer a work email or download a Pinterest recipe, focus on the predetermined task while you’re online and log off right after you’re done. Bottom line: Be smart about how you use social media. Don’t let it become a way of life.
- Don’t be a jerk. Resist the urge to check your phone every ten seconds when you’re with your friends or family. Sure, answering an urgent text or taking a selfie or two to document the moment is perfectly normal but ignoring the person next to you in favor of your smartphone is downright rude. So, the next time you’re spending time with a loved one, put your phone away and give them the attention they deserve.
- Pause before you hit ‘post’. Instead of instantly posting, snapping or tweeting everything that comes to mind, stop and reflect for a few minutes on what you’re going to share on social media. Refrain from sharing unverified news, private information and offensive or inappropriate remarks. Turn your social media feed into a positive space by weeding out toxic people from your profile, sharing thoughtful and encouraging posts and engaging in meaningful conversations with like-minded people. Here’s a great post on how to build a positive, mental-health friendly social media feed.
- Get inspired, not jealous. If you see an update about someone getting married, landing a great job or going on an expensive trip, don’t waste your time comparing your life with theirs or whining about how boring your own life is. Instead, use the opportunity to inspire and motivate yourself to work harder towards achieving your own dreams. It’s also important to remember that no matter how picture-perfect a person’s life appears on social media, all of us have real, unedited parts of our lives that are raw, difficult and messy. So, be kind to others and to yourself, whether you’re online or offline.