Today I’m taking a moment to write a post that’s really special to me. If you read my YEAR SEVEN blog post, you know that last year I struggled a lot with social media, to the point that it was substantially negatively influencing my mental well being. Because of this, I forced myself to re-evaluate my relationship with platforms like Instagram in order to keep my sanity and continue to express myself creatively. During my re-evaluation, I devised five tips to serve as a reference should I start to feel emotionally drained once again.

I wrote these five key points in my journal back in July and I realized recently that there’s no reason I should be keeping them to myself! It’s been nearly a year since I decided to consciously change the way I look at my screen and because of these five points, my emotional health has changed beyond belief.

If you find yourself feeling anything but happy and inspired after looking at social media, I hope these tips can help shine a light on a new perspective and remind you to push that negativity out of your headspace.

1. Realize that you are in control of what you see.

If you find yourself feeling upset, sad, or discouraged after looking at a screen, it’s time to re-evaluate how the content you’re interpreting is influencing your emotional health. Know that you don’t have to see what makes you sad, insecure or doubtful if you don’t want to.

Social media is what you make it. If someone’s posts aren’t sitting right with you, unfriend, unfollow or unsubscribe! While this may feel drastic at first, changing the content you view will make a world of a difference.

If you feel that move is too extreme, another option to consider is to find an account you love and start engaging! This activity will send a message to the algorithm and soon, you’ll see more of that account (and ones similar) in your feed. I’ve done this with Facebook and Instagram and now whenever I log in, my feed includes cute puppy videos, funny memes, nature, inspirational women and excerpts from my favorite writers.

I we feel drained by social media because it seems we don’t have any control over what we see. This isn’t the case! As the users, we have the power to be in control. If you can remind yourself of that when your thoughts start to evoke negative self-talk, you’ll begin to feel strong and aware of your ability to shape your experience into something more positive.

2. Limit your exposure.

It’s no secret that an increased amount of time around screens can lead to distress. The very fact that tech-detoxes exist should be testament enough that we should be limiting our exposure to the virtual world.

When I started researching how much time the average person spends on social media a day I was shocked. The current statistics say that an average adult spends over 2 hours a day on social media, which translates to about 5 years over a lifetime!

I think it’s safe to saw that social media has become an important daily ritual in most people’s lives. I know it is in mine.

Because of this, it’s so important to be hyper-aware of the way you’re using different platforms and to understand that setting limits on those interactions can drastically change your headspace on a day to day basis.

Here’s some quick tips on ways you can limit your exposure without completely dropping off the face of the virtual world.

  • Make a designated time of day for social media use.  Instead of checking it impulsively throughout the day, decide to check it once or twice a day at specific times. Avoid using it when you wake up and late at night.
  • Turn notifications off. In this day and age it seems like there’s an unspoken expectation that everyone must be available to contact at any time. This precedent has the ability to completely take us out of the present moment and shift our focus to a screen at the drop of a hat. The problem with this is, that often, that little decision to acknowledge a notification can take us into an app where we immediately get distracted and suddenly fifteen minutes go by (or more) and we don’t even remember why we logged onto the app in the first place. When notifications are turned off the user regains the power to decide when to engage with the platform.
  • Stop mindlessly checking your feed while with friends or in public. This will force you to be present with the people in your immediate vicinity (because OBVIOUSLY that’s what we should all be doing anyway right?!). If you have to, hide the app a few pages back in your phone so it’s not as easy to mindlessly click and access.

3. Use the virtual world to make genuine connections with other people.

This feels weird to say, but some of my closest friends I first met on Instagram! If you begin to use the platform with the intention to make authentic connections, you’ll start to feel a shift in how you use it and how you engage with others.

Instead of existing as a silent judge who secretly internally evaluates their own self worth,  you’ll become an active member in a virtual community that can ultimately uplift and inspire you!

I’ve found this particularly useful in discovering creative individuals like photographers, artists and writers. In the best cases, the connections I’ve sparked with these people will start to carry over into real life and I’ll get to meet them in person or work on a creative project with them!

Apply this approach to any social media platform and how you feel about yourself and how you spend your on screen time will radically change.

4. Use the platform to spread positivity.

Instead of judging, comparing or worrying about social validation, decide to use the platform to spread love and kindness! There are many ways you can go about this, but here are a few to kickstart new ideas:

  • tell someone you don’t know something you admire about them
  • tell someone you do know something you admire about them
  • send an inspiring account to a friend
  • learn to cook a new healthy recipe from a food account and then share your end result!
  • start a happiness challenge where you have to share a photo a day for a week, each about something that makes you smile, in hopes of reminding others that happiness can be found everywhere.

The underlying theme here is that kindness is contagious and if you begin to send positivity out into the universe it will start to influence others in a positive way which will in turn, influence their actions and mindset, ideally resulting in another kind interaction somewhere down the line.

Plus, being nice to others feels good! So everybody wins!

The best way to combat any sort of negative energy is to counter it with a positive emotion. So push all the positivity you can out into the universe!

5. Always remember that social media does not define you.

The amount of likes, unfollows or level of engagement you receive does not make you any less of a person. Remember that often, what you’re observing on a screen is a highlight reel and what’s really happening beyond the virtual world may be completely different. Keep in mind that everyone goes through moments of insecurity, self-doubt and emotional lows. You’re not alone. We’re all human and we’re all in this together!

If you catch yourself negatively judging your self or others because of social media, try and see the situation through a compassionate lens. Think about the universal things that bond us as human beings and take to heart that everyone moves through life on their own unique path. Just because you aren’t where another person is at this point in time, doesn’t mean you’ll never get there. Being different is beautiful and incredibly special. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself and learn to enjoy life’s journey. You are so much more than anything that can exist on a screen! ♡