Develop Mindful Social Media Habits With These 5 Tips

Have you ever felt so emotionally or mentally exhausted after scrolling through your social media feed for what you thought would be 5 minutes, but turned into an hour? Social media has provided us with an outlet to express who we are, what we like or don't like, and to be able to stay connected to the world. But, is it healthy to constantly scroll through your feed and switch between one app to another 50 times a day?


According to Broad Band Search, the average amount of time people spend on social media is over 2 hours per day. This may not seem like a lot, however, the average time spent on social media has increased approximately 70% since 2012 when Instagram was first introduced.


Broad Band Search estimates that the average person will spend a total of 3,462,390 minutes using social media over their whole lifetime.


That's a total of 6 years and 8 months -Yikes!


It's safe to say that we probably all have a little addiction to social media. (I know I'm guilty of this) Social media has become the lifeline for staying in the know with current events, family or friends, and discovering new brands.


Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons of using social media:


Pros

  • Staying connected with the world, friends, news, local businesses

  • Creative expression

  • Political expression

  • Learning or teaching new skills

  • A good distraction from reality

  • Discovering so much about the world and seeing it through different lenses (literally)

Cons

  • Over-stimulation

  • Addictive

  • Life being filtered - grey area between reality and fantasy

  • Comparing yourself to others

  • Cyber-bullying

  • A bad distraction from reality

  • Pressure to prove your self-worth through likes, comments, views and engagement


This is a short list of pros and cons, as I didn't want to overwhelm you.


Can you think of other pros and cons for using social media? Share below in the comments!


Social media for me, has been bitter sweet the last 8 years. I'll be honest, when I was in middle school, getting ready to go into high school, I was so desperate to become Instagram famous. I bought 4,000 fake followers from some random website when I googled, "How to grow your Instagram followers".


I saw these other girls I followed on Instagram, who I didn't even know, but wanted to be (and look) just like them . They had thousands of followers and likes and I felt that was the only way to prove my self-worth at the time.


I kept that Instagram account until about 2 years ago when I came to the realization that this was not who I wanted to be after all.


Call it an epiphany or enlightenment - at the time I didn't even realize I was changing to become the person I am today. A much more confident and independent woman who uses social media for enjoyment, rather than to get likes.


I created a new Instagram account and followed only people I wanted to follow or who inspired me. No more fake followers, no more fake friends, no more comparing. Just 100 followers and about 20-50 likes per photo (when I decide to post).


The great part about my social media journey is that I know I'm not the only one out there who struggled with self-acceptance. So believe me when I say that you are not alone. Social media has plenty of ups and downs, but it's how you choose to use the platform that can make all the difference in the world.


Here are 5 tips for developing mindful social media habits:


Set an App Timer

One of the great things about advancing technology is that you can now set timers on how often you use an app. For example, Instagram has a feature where you can view how many minutes per day you spend on their platform. Right now my average is at 32 minutes per day on Instagram (yay me!). I also created a reminder to let me know if I've reached my daily limit of 1 hour per day on Instagram so that I know when it's time to stop and rest my eyes and mind.


Turn off alerts

In addition to having a timer, I have also turned off social media alerts in my phone settings for both Instagram and Facebook. That way, every time I go to look at my phone I don't have 100 notifications about new posts, live videos, or DM's. This has really helped me stay present and not instantly get sucked into social media every time I pick up my phone.


Only post if you have something to share

For my old Instagram account, I made it a goal to post every day. This added so much stress to me, in addition to going to school, doing homework, hanging out with friends or family, and traveling. I felt pressured to stay 'relevant' and to post something even more creative than my last photo. It was fun for a while until one day I felt so burnt out and realized that the platforms were bringing myself more harm than inspiration. I deleted my social media apps for about 2 months and when I decided to log back in, that was when I realized something needed to change. I created my new account and made a promise to myself that I would only post if I really wanted to and had something I felt proud of.


Dedicate a full day to unplug from social media

Whether it's once a month or once a week, it's super important to unplug for at least a day. Constantly scrolling through social feeds and over-stimulating our brains is not healthy for us. This is what can cause anxiety, depression, stress, and more. Find alternative activities to do that is a healthy stimulation. Go on a hike, take a walk, draw, paint, cuddle with your animal, spend more time talking with friends and family, catch up on sleep - the list is endless!


Unfollow or mute accounts

When creating a new Instagram account, I told myself that I would only follow people who I knew or those that inspired me. Otherwise, I knew I would fall back into the unhealthy habit of comparing myself to others or have negative vibes when scrolling through my feed. Make an effort to create a positive space on the platforms you use. Life is too short to fill your mind with negativity. After all, social media is a platform meant to find inspiration, new friends, new brands, and creating a digital memory book of your life.


When creating and working on these mindful habits for social media, it can open your mind to new possibilities. Social media is a big part of our lives, whether we realize it or not. Learning how to use it in a way that benefits us rather than hurts us is what can feel tricky. I hope these mindful tips inspire you to think about your priorities with social media.


What platform do you tend to use the most? Is this platform the one that makes you feel the happiest or most stressed?

"Disconnect to connect." - anonymous

The Hippie Life of Riley

My mindfulness blog

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