We all know that social media can take a toll on our mental health, and I’m sure that if you think about it, you’ve also felt the effects of it at least once or twice in your life. Even if it’s not that deep for you, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of endless scrolling due to boredom or procrastination. The trouble is, social media is so ingrained in our daily lives that you may not even be sure how or where to draw the line and set some boundaries for yourself.
I’m part of the generation that knows what things were like before social media, yet I’ve also grown up with it being a big part of my life. Sometimes I think back to the days when I didn’t even have access to the internet on my hot pink Motorola Razr. Back then, the only way to access social media (aka Myspace and Aim) was at home on a computer that had dial-up internet access. To make it even worse (or better), my mom limited my sisters and I to only an hour each of computer use a day.
I’ve personally come to the point where I feel a bit burnt out from social media. It often feels like people are doing things just to post about it and keep up with the algorithm instead of authentically living their lives. I’ve never felt the urge to delete everything completely, but I have felt the need to step away from it all.
The internet can inspire you, help you make connections, and allow you to document your life, but it can also make you forget what real life looks like. You might think you’re close to other people because you follow their daily posts and may even comment back and forth sometimes, but you don’t really know them. This can make you forget about what’s actually happening beyond the screens.
The truth is that we all need healthy time away from social media and the internet. Finding the right balance between protecting your mental health and feeling like you’re not missing anything is probably the biggest part of the battle. In this post, I’m sharing tips for how to unplug without getting that FOMO feeling.
Acknowledge When You Need a Break
Awareness is key to making changes. If you find yourself constantly refreshing your feeds to make sure you’re not missing out on any new posts, or your mood is getting affected by how many likes you are or aren’t getting, it’s probably time to take a break. If you can find healthy boundaries and set intentions with the time you spend online, you can make sure you don’t lose a sense of yourself.
Curate Your Following List
The people you follow and listen to absolutely have an impact on your mindset. Are you following people you genuinely enjoy listening to and watching, or do the people you follow make you second guess and judge yourself? Be intentional about who you follow and only keep accounts you enjoy on your list.
Know Your Triggers
Humans love drama, there’s no way around it. Whether you are involved in it or not, sometimes we seek it out either to feel better about ourselves or just simply for entertainment. But is that the kind of stuff you should be engaging in to entertain yourself? Talk about altering your mood in a bad way.
You know what your triggers are. To have a healthier relationship with social media, it’s important to be aware of your triggers and stop yourself from seeking them out. That means stop visiting the profiles of people who you know are going to trigger you, like your ex or public figures you know you don’t care for.
Learn How to Unplug
The tricky thing about technology is that it’s too convenient to just pull out your phone and start scrolling the moment you get bored or want a distraction from what’s going on around you. In order to truly unplug and break yourself of the senseless scrolling, you have to make it inconvenient to access your go-to apps.
Below are a few ways to make it slightly more of a hassle to get to your apps and ways to keep your screen time in check:
Turn Off Notification Alerts: If I get a notification, 9 times out of 10 I’m going to open it. Even if I’m doing something important or in the middle of a conversation, it’s extremely distracting and takes my mind out of the present moment and I want to open the notification instead of staying focused on the task at hand. To stop this cycle, I turned off notification alerts on my phone for all of my social media apps and email. Now the only notifications I get are for text messages or phone calls. The only time I see any social media notifications is if I happen to check the app during the day. I know there are plenty of people who can’t deal with missing something (and I used to be one of them), but by making that one small change it’s so much easier not to be constantly distracted and looking at my phone.
Utilize The Screen Time Option: Using this feature, you can set boundaries for yourself if you’re having a hard time limiting how much you mindlessly scroll social media throughout the day. You can set timeframes like 12p-5p on weekdays, or 7a-10a on weekends to limit when and how long you can access specific apps. Things like phone calls and texts can still come through if you choose, but you won’t be notified or have access to the apps that you put on your “limited” list. While it may sound a bit extreme, this will force you to put the phone down between those timeframes and could be what you need to break yourself of the habit of constantly looking at your phone.
Only Post If You Want To: When I first started modeling, social media wasn’t a thing, and definitely not a part of anyone’s marketing strategy. Times have certainly changed, and now I always feel this huge pressure to constantly be sharing. When you reach a certain point, it just starts to feel like noise, and I have never wanted to be one of those people who post just for the sake of staying relevant. If I post something, it’s because it’s something I like or I want to tell people something. This has been a bit of a catch-22 because while I’m remaining authentic, the algorithm is working against me for not constantly putting out content. I may not have a ton of followers, but at least my sanity is (mostly) preserved!
Use That Mute Button: Most social media platforms now have the option to mute accounts or unfollow people without actually deleting them from your follow/friends list. This is a really helpful option if you want to reduce the noise on your feed without potentially offending people or making it really awkward if they call out your unfollow.
Turn Off Social Media Cellular Use: If you want to get really serious about cutting your scrolling habit, turn off the cellular data option for your social media apps. This will make you unable to access them at all unless you’re on Wi-Fi. This means when you’re out in public and don’t have Wi-Fi access, you have to actually pay attention to your surroundings instead of disappearing into social media posts. This is also a very practical suggestion if you don’t have an unlimited data plan.