Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. Created with the intention of keeping people connected, no matter where they are in the world, for some it’s become more of a bad habit that we can’t shake—for some even the source of some serious anxiety. You’ve likely read about people doing a social media detox, taking a two-week break from the ‘gram to exist only among real people and experiences, but if you work in social media, publishing, marketing or really any kind of communications that includes social media as a part of your job, hitting pause on scrolling through the ‘gram isn’t a reality. Just because you can’t detox doesn’t mean that you can’t set some real boundaries with social media and maybe even learn to love it again.
Keep reading for how to deal when a social media detox isn’t a reality:
Take a deeper dive into what you find
triggering on social media
Arguably the most important step to achieving a healthy relationship with social media is figuring out what your touchy points are. As you’re scrolling, pause whenever that feeling starts to creep up and take a moment to reflect on who or what it is that made you feel that way. Is it a particular person or kind of content? Is it something that makes you feel lesser than or is it more the general state of the world that causes that unshakable sinking (because we get that too)? Is it simply that you associate social media with work and have a hard time turning your brain off when it’s time to decompress? Once you have a better understanding of what it is that is making you feel off, you’ll be able to better direct how you consume your content—and what limits to put on to prevent that feeling from happening again.
Take control of your screen time
While the invention of the “screen time” prompts on the iPhone are great in theory, they don’t really work for some people, other than serving for another annoying little notification to make you feel bad about your phone habits. Sometimes you need to take more drastic measures to limit your time on social media. Some good habits to include? For starters, turning off notifications will be your saving grace. (If you can swing it, this is a good practice in general, especially with emails, that way you have to check your email instead of letting it check you.) Log out of your social media apps whenever you’re done with your scroll to make it a little less enticing to have to log back in when you want to scroll aimlessly with Netflix in the background. This is especially helpful if being on social media is a large part of your day job; it’ll give you some separation between your day and night life.
If you can manage to delete the apps from your phone, that’s even better—you can always check up on your social media from your desktop browser while you’re at work. If you’re finding a screen time reminder isn’t working for you, give yourself a designated time of day to be on social media—whether that’s while you’re on the treadmill, allotting half an hour after dinner or while you’re sitting on the streetcar—this will help you set some limits to your time without getting sucked into a deep dark scroll hole.
Make a separate work account
The only issue you run up against with keeping your social media usage to during the day is that you can tend to take the “social” aspect out of it and it can make you feel limited in your own personal usage. The easiest way to combat this is to have a work-only account where you follow the accounts that you need to follow for work and keep your personal account private and follow everything but the work stuff. At least then when you’re switching between accounts you’re setting parameters on who can slide into your DMs when you’re outside of work hours and what sort of content you’re absorbing during your free time. This also allows you to curate your personal feed to make it more of an inspiring and empowering place by following only the accounts that spark joy. Consider this the KonMari approach to social media.
Make besties with the “mute” function
A sad reality of how we live our lives on social media is that it looks bad for optics if you don’t follow someone—even if you may not necessarily care to see what’s going. Or even worse: Find their online persona to be exhausting and bad for your mental health. This is where the beauty of the mute function on Instagram comes in. Instead of unfollowing all of the people you don’t actually want to see on your feed, just mute them. You can mute stories or feed posts separately so that you have to actively check up on them instead of letting them infiltrate your scrolling space.
(Story by Contributing Editor Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi)