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Mindful Social Media: How to stay mentally well in the age of social media

Social media has completely changed the way we connect with others. The “key 3” social media platforms- Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram- offer seemingly quick-and-fast ways to grow our social circles, consume news, and showcase our own lives for others to like, comment, and share as they wish.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely aware of the pros and cons of social media. On the one hand, it can be a powerful tool for networking, communicating with friends, staying informed of current events, providing entertainment, etc. On the other hand, it invites us to constantly compare ourselves to others and creates a false sense of connection or belonging. Being mindful of the ways we engage in social media is essential in protecting our mental and emotional health. Mindfulness refers to the state of being conscious and aware of the present moment. In the age of social media, that means being aware of the content we’re consuming and how we’re reacting in the here-and-now.

Let’s think about how YOU are showing up digitally and what you can do get the most out of these tools.

  1. When and where are you scrolling?

Take notice of the times of day you find yourself opening social media. You may notice a pattern. Specific settings may urge you to whip out your phone- silent elevators, public transportation, lying in bed, etc. Just noticing these patterns can clue you into opportunities to more mindfully engage with your surroundings. For instance, if you are a bedtime social media checker, challenge yourself to set your phone down and instead recap your day with your partner. BONUS: Make your bedroom a no-phone zone by setting up a charging station in another area of your home.

  1. What are the reasons behind your posts?

There are countless reasons you might post on social media. You may want to broadcast your weekend beach day or perhaps show off that trendy recipe you whipped up for your family. You may just feel lonely or in need of a confidence boost that positive digital feedback will provide. Before you post, take a few minutes to think about what you need in this moment, and if posting will satisfy that need or possibly exasperate an underlying negative feeling. To set yourself up for success, take stock of how much YOU like the photo or appreciate the content before allowing others to weigh in.

  1. Is your feed a problem or a solution?

Take inventory of your social media feed. Is it clouded with unconstructive political banter? Are you constantly scrolling past posts about the newest fad diet?  When you stumble on a post that elicits social comparison or a strong emotional reaction such as rage, don’t be afraid to hit that “unfollow” button. Remember to fill your feed with positive energy and things that make you smile. May I suggest following a few accounts that will fill your feed with adorable puppy pictures?

 

Think of social media as a tool, your tool, and while it grabs our attention and tricks us into being passive consumers,  we are not actually robots! Take the time to check in with the human behind the scrolling  – YOURSELF. Then use the platforms to your benefit- send uplifting videos, challenge your friends to a dance contest, plan a virtual meet up, or join a video tutorial to learn a new skill.  Apply mindful social media practices to unlock the possibilities!

 

Written by Kiera Molloy, Wellness Mentor at Modern Minds