Many of us are so mixed up with our social accounts that it’s difficult to remember what we did before the feed. There are plenty of upsides to an online connection, but how do we find balance with the constant flurry of input from friends, family, celebrities, and brands constantly vying for our attention? Want to know more about the benefits of stepping away from social media and how to tweak your feed for your mental health? Read on.
How Social Media Affects Mental Health
So, what does the research have to say about the effects of social media on your health and well-being? You might be surprised to learn most studies aren’t too favorable. While using social media for personal contact and maintaining relationships was associated with improved mental health, there was still a correlation between increased daily time on social media and poorer mental health overall. If you don’t want to experience poor self-image, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and even poor sleep, making some tweaks to your social media use may be a good idea.
Things to Do Instead of Social Media
Your mental health is more important than your Instagram aesthetic. So, what can you do instead of curating and scrolling? The beautiful thing is the world is your oyster! When you step away from the screen and into the three-dimensional world, there’s an endless array of options depending on your needs. Once you identify why you’re feeling the urge to log onto your social media accounts, you can redirect this feeling in other ways.
If You Use Social Media to Relax
If you find you reach for your phone when you have a little downtime, consider swapping for these options instead:
- Take a walk around the block.
- Put on some music.
- Set the mood with candles or diffuse some essential oils.
- Read a book.
- Try doodling or crafting.
- Bake something delicious.
- Play with a pet.
- Try yoga or meditation.
- Drink a soothing, hot beverage, like tea or hot chocolate.
- Look at old photos and reminisce.
If You Use Social Media to Connect With Others
If you find yourself longing for some human connection and the desire to check your feed arises, try these activities instead:
- Call a friend or family member.
- Invite someone over for dinner or drinks.
- Bake something and offer it to your neighbors, lingering to chat when you deliver it.
- Organize a weekend brunch, hike, or shopping trip with friends.
- Check out Meetup.com for like-minded groups to join (and actually attend an event!).
- Volunteer at a local food bank or other organization.
- Take a class through your local Parks and Recreation Department.
- Join a community group, like a nonprofit, or a club.
If You Use Social Media for Entertainment
Instead of memes and 30-second videos, opt for some real-life entertainment:
- Go see some live music.
- Check out an arcade (Skee-Ball, anyone?).
- Learn an instrument.
- Take a dance or martial arts class.
- Take a hike (literally).
- Take a trip to a local museum.
- Try your hand at gardening.
- Listen to a podcast.
- Read a book.
- Gather some friends or family and play a board game.
There’s a lot of power in knowing your motives for logging onto your social accounts. Once you do, you can make a choice to meet that need in another way.
How to Set Healthy Social Media Boundaries
While taking breaks from social media is great, it’s important to be realistic (and not militant) about your use. If social media is a part of your life, that’s OK. There are ways to lessen the negative effects and enhance the positive effects of social media, even while you’re using it. For instance, you can:
- Unfollow accounts that have a negative effect on your mood or self-image.
- Remove photos from your own profile that trigger self-judgment.
- Delete any negative DMs, trolling, or spam.
- Unsave posts that encourage you to compare yourself to others.
On top of that, you can set an example for a mindful, authentic posting, so others can be inspired by your feed and perhaps follow suit. For starters, you can:
- Skip the filter and showcase the real you.
- Post photos of the “messy” moments, not just the perfect ones.
- Remind others in your captions that you’re a real person with flaws, hang-ups, and insecurities — just like them.
- Post encouraging comments on others’ posts.
- Post about taking breaks when you take them to remind others they can do the same.
For most of us, social media is simply a part of our lives, for better and for worse. At the same time, we can use it in a way that emphasizes the positive over the negative, both for us and for others. With a little conscious use, occasional breaks, and balance with other activities, social media can be a healthy tool for self-expression and connection.