Finding Balance In Your Social Media Use

We've heard it a thousand times at this point: Excessive social media use isn't good for our mental health. As we endlessly scroll through our favorite apps, we encounter countless photos of influencers with perfect bodies and friends in stunning locales. They glow with pastel filters and we smile at their punny captions until we start to feel an influx of negative emotions. As a result, we often start comparing ourselves and picking at all the areas in which we lack. It can cause a whole lot of anxiety, create a distorted self-image, and even take us down unproductive paths.

To achieve certain aspirational beauty standards, we begin to follow an influencer's diet and exercise regime without realizing that everybody is different and that what works for them may not work for us. To reach these idealistic goals, we're even willing to surround ourselves with people we don't like and put ourselves in situations we don't want to be in. And we do all this to meet somebody else's idea of the perfect life.

Despite knowing all this, it's so hard to quit social media. Sometimes, this is simply because it occupies so much of our time and energy that we don't know what to do without it. Often, we find that we're unbothered by the clutter and only use social media to stay in touch with loved ones or entertain ourselves. Regardless of why you use social media, you can stave off the negative effects without quitting completely. 

Make social media a more positive place

One of the biggest reasons people struggle to find balance with social media is because of how addictive it can be. When you start scrolling through your "For You" pages, you'll be bombarded with things that catch your interest, and before you know it, it's the middle of the night, and you haven't stopped. To curb this problem, you should set aside specific time blocks throughout the day dedicated to social media scrolling. 

Try to keep it to no more than 20 minutes at a time. If you're wondering what to do with the time you'd normally spend on social media, you can pick up a hobby like drawing, cooking, or playing a sport. And, if you're grappling with a lack of self-control, you can even use an app blocker. The great thing about most social media algorithms is that they'll show you more of what you interact with. When you consistently interact with pages that trigger your insecurities, you'll see more of those. 

But if you interact with pages that promote body positivity, productivity, and adorable pets, for instance, you'll be flooded with happier messaging that might make your social media experience less triggering. If the people in your social circle are the ones posting triggering content, don't be afraid to unfollow them. For closer friends, you can restrict interactions to prevent their posts from showing up in your feed.

Focus on what's really important

Instead of indulging in mindless scrolling, stay in touch with your emotions. Be mindful of how certain content makes you feel, and interrogate those feelings too. If you find yourself comparing yourself to an influencer, remember that sometimes they have to portray their life a certain way to earn brand promotions. Before you open up an application, ask yourself what you're seeking, and try to not stray from the reason. Remind yourself of it when you're tempted to go down the scrolling void.

If social media is keeping you from being productive, block notifications to keep it out of your mind. And, instead of using it as a distraction, turn social media into a motivator by rewarding yourself with a couple of minutes of time online after completing a goal. Keep a physical list of things you need to accomplish throughout the day in your view at all times. Also, plan out a tight schedule the night before, so you're more likely to stick to it. 

Sometimes, we don't necessarily want to go on social media but we find ourselves on it as we try to come up with a solution to work-related problems, or simply as a form of procrastination. Instead of doing this, you can work on another task or do something else that helps you relax such as taking a walk or catching up with a friend. Speaking of which, try messaging your pals off social media to stay offline even more.