Photo by Becca Tapert
Social media is ubiquitous.
It’s where we get our news, connect with friends, discover new fashion, seek entertainment, and share videos of our pets doing silly things.
With 3.8 billion active social media users across the globe, we’re more connected than any point in history. Yet at the same time we’re also more lonely than ever before, with some studies linking increased screen time with depression.
But social media is not objectively bad.
It’s just a part of life that, like anything, requires some healthy balance.
In fact, social media can even be a powerful tool for self-care. If used mindfully, it can connect us with like-minded people that we might not have had access to otherwise — and ourselves) in a meaningful way.
If you’re feeling a little disconnected or concerned that you’re spending too much time on social, here are some tips to help you find the healthy balance that’s right for you.
1. Self-Care Before Social
The first few hours of your morning can have a huge impact on the rest of your day.
Make a commitment to finish your self-care routine before you even consider checking Instagram or Facebook.
When you start your day with gratitude, affirmations, a future bio, a little pep talk, or any one of the other essential items on your self-care checklist — you can feel grounded in who you want to show up as, and be more intentional about how you want your day to unfold.
2. Seeing is Believing (That Your Body is Beautiful)
The media has never done a great job showcasing the beautiful diversity of humans.
When we don’t see our bodies, abilities, or skin color represented online, it can lead to negative self-perception and make us feel alone. But we can help flip this by curating our feeds more carefully.
I changed my body image by following women on social media who looked more like me and were celebrating themselves as beautiful and enough exactly as they were.
By virtually ‘surrounding’ myself with women who shared a similar body type, it helped normalize my body, reprogram my mind, and eventually helped me to believe that my body was beautiful and worth celebrating — because it is (and yours is, too).
3. Find Your Niche
What lights you up?
Who and what we surround ourselves with shapes who and what we become, even in our digital world.
So now, more than ever, it’s critical to find an online community of like-minded people to connect with, learn from, lean on, and inspire you to the best version of yourself.
Whether you’re into cooking, pottery, astrology, knitting, or surfing. If you shine your brightest gushing about a band you love, your fitness routine, a game you’re into, or growing mushrooms — no matter how niche, there’s a community out there for you.
Self-care’s your jam? There’s a thriving community for that, too 😉
Connecting with people on a similar path gives you the space to share openly and vulnerably about your experience, seek support when needed, learn, grow, and can help keep you accountable to your goals.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Unfollow (or Mute)
Just like we outgrow friends or styles, we outgrow accounts we’re following on social media, too.
It’s worth investing a few minutes during your monthly self-care strategy session to create some space in your newsfeed by unfollowing the accounts that no longer serve you.
Questions to ask yourself:
- Why am I following this account?
- Are they in alignment with my values?
- How does this content make me feel?
- Do I constantly compare myself and feel inadequate when I see their posts?
- Do they make me feel mad or jealous or annoyed?
It can be especially tricky to navigate when it’s a friend or family member, but if you’re hesitant to unfollow, you can always mute their posts and stories to avoid them more discreetly.
5. Don’t Believe Everything You See
It’s important to remember that social media isn’t reality.
A fancy holiday, new car or relationship doesn’t mean that person is fulfilled or even happy. We’ve all done it, right? You post a smiling selfie because, sure, you’re looking cute, but inside you’re feeling unworthy or alone or worse.
While I’m not suggesting that all of the happy moments are fake (they’re absolutely not), it’s good to remind ourselves that there’s always more than what meets the eye.
Absolutely no one is free from struggles, which leads me to my next point…
6. Practice Vulnerability
Social media is rampant with face filters and curated feeds. It’s as if we think ‘perfection’ is what people want to see. But when we only share an idealized version of ourselves online, we separate ourselves from others.
When we’re vulnerable — by being honest about our feelings, our fears and by asking for what we need — we draw people in. You don’t even have to share deeply personal stories in order to practice vulnerability. In fact, it’s best to start small.
So if you’re new to this, or the idea of sharing vulnerably scares you, here are some prompts to share in an Instagram story to get you started:
- Tell your followers about something small that you’ve been struggling with and how it makes you feel. You can even ask if anyone else has had a similar experience.
- Share something that you are excited about — yes, sharing happy things is being vulnerable, too.
- Ask for support. Do you need a recommendation for a mechanic, a pet groomer, or advice for homeschooling your kids?
You may be surprised how many might connect with your story or reaches out to support you.
Remember, your vulnerability is your strength.
7. Keep it Balanced (Value vs Ego)
Even if you’re not using social media to build a business or brand, remember that people still follow you because of the value you provide.
Before posting, ask yourself if what you’re sharing is providing value or just serving your ego. If it’s more of the latter, that’s totally OK, just be sure to check in with yourself now and then to make sure you’re also putting out the type of content you’d like to consume in your own feed.
If you find you’re mostly sharing content to serve your ego, it’s a sign that you may be too dependent on others’ approval and your self-love could use a little boost.
8. Track Your Screen Time
“You can’t manage what you can’t measure” and that applies to social media consumption, too. Luckily,
We have more control over our screen time than we realize. Both iPhone and Android phones allow you to track screen time so you can gain clarity on how much time you spend on your phone, and then get in intentional about where you want those numbers to be.
9. Set Limits and Schedule Downtime
In addition to tracking screen time, iPhone and Android phones allow you to set time limits for certain apps and schedule ‘downtime’ during which only certain apps that you allow and phone calls will be available. Once you’ve reached your daily limit, you’ll receive a screen notification.
Some individual apps, like Instagram, also allow you to set time limits. I also take one day off of social media each week which has been super nourishing.
10. Out of sight, out of mind
One final idea to help curb your social media usage is simply to move your most-used social apps to a folder that’s not on your home screen.
Making apps just a little less convenient, can give you a little buffer during which you remember it’s probably not necessary that you check the app anyway.
Better yet, if you really want to curb your usage, delete the apps at the end of the day or on the weekends. It’s easy to download them and pick up where you left off.
Odds are you’ll find you didn’t miss much of anything anyway.
There’s a lot of noise and distraction on social media, it’s true.
But there’s also a ton of positivity that can come from being a conscious consumer.
The good news: with a little clarity and discipline, it doesn’t take much to make sure your relationship with social media is a healthy one.