When it comes to self-care and scrolling through social media, the two can be at serious odds. So how much TECH is too much, and when is it time for a digital detox? HERE's The self-care steps you need to keep you happy and healthy when you're on social media.
If you’ve ever wrestled with this kind of digital dilemma you’re not alone. As someone who’s worked in the digital wellbeing space for a number of years now, I get asked these kind of questions all.the.time by those struggling with social media binges themselves, and well-meaning parents worrying about their teens and tech. Things are changing and new trends are emerging faster than we can sign up or hit the share button. It’s overwhelming, its unknown, I get it. It can be tricky to keep up never mind navigate all the apps and platforms available in a way that works for your wellbeing, and keeps you connected.
A Digital Decade
It’s quite crazy to think that the first Apple iPhone was released only a little over a decade ago. It’s fair to say, life has never been the same since. While Steve Jobs was a visionary, I’m not sure even he or his team envisaged how much things would change forever once their creation hit the market. Designed as an evolution of the iPod that could make and receive calls, that morphed into a pocket-sized computer plus camera, not even the creators themselves could foresee the way it would truly disrupt and revolutionise the way we live year after year thereafter. It’s hard now to imagine life before swiping, scrolling or selfies. With over two billion smartphones in use today - in just ten short years we’ve become planet of the phones, with no sign of us stopping just yet...
Our devices join us wherever we go and either assist us, distract us, or otherwise fill the moments where we once could simply ‘be’. Recent findings showed the average American adult spent 2 hours 51 minutes on their phone per day in 2017. Whats’App with that? ...
Social media is sucking up a lot of our time. Over 3 billion snaps are sent every 24 hours and between Facebook and WhatsApp platforms alone, more than 30 billion messages are sent each day. Popular photo and video sharing app Instagram is also growing at a rapid rate, now boasting over 500 million daily active users and showing the potential to catch up to its parent social network, Facebook, down the track.
Behind all the pretty pictures, a different story emerges. This British report from 2017 (#Statusofmind) found that Instagram was the most damaging of all leading social media platforms for young people’s mental health and wellbeing, due to it's links to anxiety, depression, body image issues and bullying.
Happily, Instagram is being proactive in the wake of the findings. The company has just announced measures to tackle such issues head on and better support the health and wellbeing of its users by making it a top priority. With a newly established wellbeing team in place and a number of safety and support features being released, they are taking important steps to create a safer space where users can feel good and belong to a kinder community. Understanding that there’s an association between social media usage and mental health issues particularly in young people, we’re starting to see the social giants step up and nurture their vast virtual communities for the better. Being proactive about making the user experience a more positive one is ultimately going be a good thing for all.
As the social stats and our time online steadily grows, and the first generation of social media users become adults, it’s important to consciously transition from a place of mindless searching, self-comparison and low self-esteem to one where we’re in control of the scroll and honouring our wellbeing. If you feel like your tech is taking over your life, creating balance and setting healthier, happier boundaries might be easier than you think. Over time, I've worked out how to navigate the maze of flawless flatlays, cat videos and holiday highlights in a way that works well for my wellbeing, and nowadays I teach my clients how to do the same, keeping it smart and making simple to scroll or switch off, using the following eight strategies:
#1: You decide
Are you really ready to scroll, or did your device just demand you to do so? Muting or completely turning off your notifications will put you back in control, letting you decide when to check in, instead of the incessant beeps, pops and pings distracting your attention away from what you’re doing.
#2: Check-in before you log-in
Be mindful of your present state before you unlock the phone or open an app. Pause. Take one to three deep breaths and notice how you feel and what’s going on around you right now. Use your senses. Become present. Is this the most important thing for you to do right now? Is there a clear purpose, or is it taking you away from something more pressing? If it feels good and is on your terms, you know what to do. If it’s not, you can come back later.
#3: Set a timer
If your lack of self-control leads you to scrolling a little (or a lot) longer than you’d like to, set a timer to keep you on track. Save posts or articles you want to view later and be super savvy with the limited time you have online.
#4: Track your triggers
Keep a social diary for a few days and note down what makes you feel most negative when you’re scrolling your socials. Is it the lack of likes? Negative comments? Judgement? Do you feel overwhelmed, addicted, unworthy? Do the same for your positive experiences, do you like reading uplifting quotes, sharing good news or seeing family and friends thrive? Knowing what feeds into your feelings will help you to make healthier choices in future by unsubscribing to certain feeds, friends or apps that trigger these unwanted responses and creating a more tailored online experience that will serve you well instead.
#5: Be Real
Navigate your digital space with a healthy dose of reality and real-life role models. Remind yourself regularly that a lot of the content you see is a highlight reel that’s been heavily edited and adapted to appear flawless or attract attention. Be selective about who and what you follow, ensuring it’s inspiring rather than undermining your confidence, wellbeing and sense of self-worth. Seek authentic leaders, game-changers and role models who share their struggles as well as successes, and will tell it like it really is.
#6: What’s your why?
Think about your biggest goals in life and use social media as a source of information or inspiration to help you achieve them. Whether it’s building a business, becoming a parent or personal development, clarity around your current goals will help you to navigate where you spend your time and what you’re subscribing to.
#7: Take a break
It’s unrealistic and unhealthy to be switched on 24/7 and it’s ok to take a break! Give yourself permission to switch off, refresh and recharge throughout the day as and when you need it. Schedule in set time slots where you step away from the tech, leave your phone behind and do something that lights you up or feels good like exercise, socialising, pursuing a passion or getting a good night’s sleep.
#8: Be the change
Instead of criticising online communities or social channels, take a look at your own contribution to the social space. Are you posting positive comments, showing your support and sharing the love? Consciously choose to create the kind of experience you want to see more of. Take responsibility for the influence you have online and think about how you can cultivate a more positive ecosystem through the power of your own words and actions.
Leave a comment below to let me know which of the steps above is most helpful to you. Remember sharing is caring, so share this article with someone who will benefit from the support and don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter below for more wellbeing wisdom and healthy, happy goodness too! Thanks!