If you’re living in 2021 when your primary connection to the outside world during quarantine is through a screen… It’s safe to say you probably have a social media account of some sort.
Whether it’s an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok account (or all of the above)—you’re living in a virtual world like the rest of us.
And while social media accounts can be great for a multitude of things—online business ventures, updating family/friends on how you’re doing, learning new hobbies while you’re stuck at home—the exposure can still be exhausting.
Because whether you follow sites like Twitter for humorous tweets, or Instagram for pretty pictures: the chances are you’ll also come across heated political posts, sensitive material in the name of a cause, or someone whose life looks oh-so-perfect compared to yours… And seeing those on a constant basis can do a number on you.
Of course we know that nobody’s life is that perfect, and the world isn’t that bad; but it certainly doesn’t help seeing that all. The. Time.
So maybe: it’d be a good idea to take a break.
Here’s some ways you can focus on having a healthy social media life.
Limit What (and Who) You Follow
Is there a person that you know in your personal life that you feel obligated to follow on social media whose posts always… Well. Stress you out?
Maybe you should consider not following them anymore.
There is nothing wrong with their choice of sharing what they feel needs to be shared. Many find it cathartic, and feel that they’re bringing awareness to issues by posting articles. This is a totally valid way for them to use their own social media!
But… That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the healthiest for you.
Constantly seeing negative news--especially during this pandemic, when there is a plethora of it-- has been proven to make us believe the world is much worse than it actually is. Of course it’s never a bad thing to be up to date on topics and aware of the things that are happening in the world…
But when it proves to spike an incredibly high increase in your anxiety and stress levels? Something needs to change.
So… How do you limit the amount of “bad news” on your media feed?
Take a look at who and what you follow. Do you think you need to follow ten news sources at a given time? If there’s any that you can see yourself unfollowing: do it. How about friends that you haven’t seen in real life for awhile, whose posts have a tendency to stress you out? You can either unfollow them or arrange your settings so that you can’t see their content on your feed.
Boundaries are so important in both your social and online life, and you should always have the choice in setting where yours are.
But Also... Find Who Brings You Joy
Does a dog’s personal Instagram page bring a smile to your face whenever you see his cute face? Click that “follow” button.
There’s as much good, heart warming content within social media as there is the bad--you just need to know how to look for it!
Luckily, more news sites are realizing how people enjoy seeing positive stories (shocker!). The Guardian launched a project in 2016 to study the effects on readers by posting more good news… And the result? Thousands more people subscribed, proving that sometimes the good really does attract more than the bad.
Similarly to how you may be unfollowing accounts that only focus on the bad news, you can filter and change your feed’s algorithm by searching mostly for the good--sites like Instagram will immediately pick up on the content you like and follow.
And even if it doesn’t… At least you found a couple of serotonin-boosting dog accounts along the way.
Limit Your Time Online
Imagine you’re working on an important project for work that’s due by midnight. You’re making good headway, and think you can definitely get it done within the day without working overtime into the evening.
Suddenly, a notification pops up on your phone: you have a new follower! You scroll through their profile, and then you wonder if maybe your mutual friend referred them to you. It’s been awhile since you checked in on that friend, so you do so…
And somehow you’ve been on Instagram for an hour. How did you get here again?
We’ve all been there: going down social media rabbit holes that we can’t explain why it’s so gripping, but we can at least agree it’s way too easy to spend too much time there. The average amount of time spent on social media in a day is 2 hours and 22 minutes, and when you consider how many negative news articles, corporate advertisements and unrealistic social expectations are stuffed into “recommended” pockets of your feed… That’s quite a lot to handle.
Consider taking timed breaks when you need to!
You can set a timer for how much time you allow yourself on social media per given intervals of the day. Start noticing how much time you spend on those sites… And challenge yourself! If you find yourself on Facebook for an hour, could you try fifteen minute intervals? If you find that Twitter is draining you every time you log on, could you try going without it... For a day?
Remember to be realistic! If you have an online business, maybe you’ll need a little more time to respond to followers or potential customers… And understandably, you might want to add on to your timer.
There’s also some great apps that limit how much time you spend on websites and social media, like Offtime and AppDetox. If you’re looking for an app that keeps you focused for productivity’s sake, try out Forest--it grows an adorable tree so long as you stay on the app, and is great for getting projects done!
All About Moderation
Believe it or not, having a healthy social media life is absolutely possible--it just might take some extra effort.
Whether it’s following positive news stories, people that make you smile, setting a timer to step away from your phone or even just deactivating your accounts for a week--all of that can do a world of good for your psyche.
And we’re always going to throw a like and a follow for a healthier, happier you.
What are your best tips for maintaining a healthy social media life? Comment below!