Social media use can easily make everyone else’s life appear brighter, richer, and better than yours. So, what can you do to have a healthier experience online and stop feeling negativity?
I was recently asked by the talented vegan food blogger and soon-to-be IIN Health Coach, Joyce Shih, to share my top tips for how to navigate social media “in a healthy and uplifting way.”
Joyce had expressed that “what starts as a quick check on Instagram can turn into hours stuck in a rabbit hole of flawless faces, bodies, food and even lives, that instigate a quiet bubbling of toxic comparison.” I hear you, Joyce. I’m sure you do, too.
It’s so common to feel negative side effects of scrolling social media – comparing ourselves to what’s more like a highlight reel than an accurate portrayal of other people’s lives, and feeling bad as a result.
Recent studies are proving this to be true. According to Forbes.com, “one study looked at how we make comparisons to others posts, in “upward” or “downward” directions—that is, feeling that we’re either better or worse off than our friends… In the social network world, it seems that any kind of comparison is linked to depressive symptoms.”
Here are 3 effective methods that my coaching clients and I use to create a social media experience that won’t leave you feeling drained, moody, frustrated, or undeserving. These methods can help you feel inspired, connected, and content with your life.
Just as Joyce mentioned, we can start out using Instagram and other social media platforms with the best of intentions, and that’s where you also want to end up after your social experience. Begin by asking yourself, “what are my intentions in using social media?” This can help to clarify why you’re using social media and give you a place to come back to. Remind yourself of your intention before you begin your social experience, and as often as you need to stay on track. Your intentions may change over time, but the key is to continue checking in with yourself.
Awareness of your mental and emotional state is a key component to using social media in a healthy and positive way. Take a quick assessment of your mood before you open your social platform of choice. Then, take an assessment of how you feel after. You can write this in a journal or make a mental note. Notice any changes – they could appear subtle at first, but the more you assess your mood, the more aware you will become and can pinpoint when and why your mood begins to change.
You are in control of your social experience, and setting boundaries is one way you can maintain that control. These boundaries can be around who you will follow, what content you will “like” and who you will engage with. Setting time boundaries is equally important, and there are even smartphone controls to record and limit your time usage. In addition, time boundaries include how long you will spend as well as what times of day you will use social media. Boundaries are created to maintain healthy, thriving relationships, so remind yourself of this as you set and adhere to your new boundaries.
The full impact of social media is yet to be determined, but there’s no doubt it can be both healthy and unhealthy. The good news is, there’s a lot you can do to create the experience you want. I have experienced the mood changes, comparison game, frustration and self-blame, and so have my friends and clients. Being aware, setting intentions, and adhering to boundaries can create a healthier online experience.
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Quotes from original article written by Joyce Shih and Amanda Luukinen for PurelyB.