Social media has its benefits—we can stay in touch with friends and family, follow our favourite celebs, build our personal brands, and, in some instances, learn new skills and information. But for every positive, there’s a negative.
Forbes’ Alice G. Watson warns that social media can be detrimental for our mental health. She cites its addictive characteristics: “Studies have confirmed that people tend to undergo a kind of withdrawal.” That’s right—when you’ve gone too long without scrolling through your timeline, your body knows and responds accordingly.
In addition to being addictive, social media can trigger sadness, lead us to compare ourselves to others more frequently, and hamper our ability to be social IRL. This isn’t to say we should all delete our profiles today. But we should institute some practices that help us maintain healthy use.
Impose A Limit
If you’re like most of us, you check your notifications as soon they pop up. Then, you find yourself scrolling mindlessly. Before you know it, you’ve wasted 10, 20, even 60 minutes liking and commenting. If you do this multiple times a day, you can lose a lot of time to Instagram and Twitter. So, set a limit. Maybe it’s 20 minutes per session. Or 2 hours max per day. Pick a time limit and stick with it.
You probably see a lot of things in your timeline that trigger jealousy or make you feel down about your life. You see that guy with the six-pack abs or the other guy with the wife, sports-car, and big house. But you have to remember one thing. Everything you’re seeing has been curated. People often share their best moments, keeping the negative stuff private. They also retouch their photos. And they fabricate situations to capture the best shots. So, others’ lives may seem great, but that’s what they want you to think. Don’t compare your life to someone who isn’t telling their whole story.
If social media is sucking up your time, you need to remove the distractions. You can do this in two easy ways. First, limit what you’re seeing on your phone. This could involve deleting some apps or simply turning off notifications during the workday. Out of sight, out of mind. Also, keep social media tabs closed on your desktop, and turn your phone upside down. Again, if you don’t want the distractions, you need to physically remove them from the scenario.
Live in the Moment
I know, this is easier said than done. Especially considering that social media functions like Instagram Stories encourage us to document everything. But try sliding your phone in your pocket the next time you’re out with friends, family, or that special someone. You’ll be surprised how much more enjoyable events can be when you’re experiencing them instead of capturing them.
Social media is a double-edged sword—it can serve a lot of good, but it can also open a Pandora’s Box of possibility. If you choose to use it, do so with caution.