Picture this: You’re having an incredible day; the sun is shining, the temperature is just right, you are wearing your favorite outfit, and your local coffee shop just launched your fav seasonal latte. You’re on cloud nine! While killing sometime between projects, you begin scrolling through Instagram. You land on a post from an influencer, celeb, or activist you idolize, and you are suddenly overwhelmed with a strong feeling of self-doubt. Something about the perfectly posed photo with its exquisite edits leaves you feeling low, and your good mood is suddenly crushed.
Why do we let the appearance of those we follow on social media have such a large impact on us? We are all well aware at this point that oftentimes, one photo requires an entire production of styling, editing, and curating. Even the term “candid” has been transformed into a style of photography. So how do we enjoy the entertainment and creativity from social media platforms without sabotaging our mental health?
It all starts with creating healthy habits and boundaries, and I want to share what I do to create a healthy relationship with social media.
Limit your use in the morning and late in the evening.
Nothing’s worse than waking up first thing in the morning to be greeted by negativity from social media. Whether it be a post from her ex, a negative story from the media, or a negative comment on one of your posts -- these can swallow you up and impact your entire day. If I wake up to an alarm, I simply shut it off and leave my phone plugged in on my nightstand. I’ve even stopped turning on an audiobook or music first thing, because not only can that influence your mood, but you will be more tempted to scroll.
Instead, try to brush your teeth, make your bed, take care of your pets or plants, or grab a cup of coffee or tea and bring it outside or near an open window and enjoy the morning. I like to spend the first 30 minutes or more of morning without my phone. Some days I’m better at it than others, but it always remains a goal of mine and I feel much better if I stick to it.
I like to focus that same goal for my nighttime routine; it’s the one I struggle with a lot. I do my best to avoid my phone while spending time with my boyfriend, so when he falls asleep (usually always before me) it’s my time to catch up on YouTube and articles. But when I’m having a hard time sleeping or I had a stressful day, I know to avoid my phone before bed to ensure I have a more restful sleep.
Unfollow or block the haters.
It is totally okay to unfollow or block someone who threatens your mood or mental health. Social media platforms are incredibly saturated, and it is very easy to hit that follow button. Every so often I like to weed through who I’m following in order to unfollow those who no longer inspire me. (This is mainly geared towards influencers, brands, etc). As for those you are on a more personal level with, it is definitely your call on whether it is time to unfollow them or not. I personally do not follow my ex’s, both romantic and friends that I no longer have in my life. I find that if you can see them on social media, you may be more tempted to hang on emotionally, as well, and that isn’t healthy for anyone. So, take the time to unfollow those who do not serve you positivity.
Don’t watch your life pass by you through your phone.
Do you ever walk into a room and everyone has their noses in their phones? It makes me sad and uncomfortable. Life holds so many beautiful and unique moments, and they will all pass by us if we do not take the initiative to be more present in what is going on around us. The phrase, “stop and smell the roses,” is more true now than it ever has been. Take time to acknowledge the sounds, the smells, the tastes of the world surrounding you. Indulge yourself in the food sitting in front of you as opposed to worrying about the right angles of the photos you’re taking of it.
When I am at dinner, a concert, or just hanging out with friends or family I try really hard to keep my phone tucked away. An occasional glance is okay, but if your phone is blowing up with work or personal matters, then maybe it’s best to either turn it on silent or reschedule what you’re doing. Also, nothing is worse than when someone seems detached from your conversation because they’re looking at their phone. So, turn it to “do not disturb,” slide it away, and be present with what’s right in front of you.
Snap a photo now, edit and post later.
Another way to be more present when you’re at a concert, festival, vacation, etc. is to take your photos with your phone’s camera versus Instagram or snapchat. I know the appeal is to be live posting where you are because it is SO fun and SO cool, but trust me, it will be much more fun and cool if you actually immerse yourself in it. And you’ll thank yourself for it later.
I love to edit photos and posts for IG, but it’s often time consuming, and I could spend hours on my phone editing and posting. Instead, save the photos and videos to your phone and edit when you have the spare time. Trust me, people will still love to see what you wore and what you did -- even if it’s a day later.
Social media can be incredibly resourceful and a great creative tool if you maintain healthy habits and boundaries. No one is perfect, and social media is designed to be curated; this is both a blessing and a curse. Practice mindfulness when scrolling and take each curated post with a grain of salt. Create the space to be present and set intentions to maintain balance between the time you spend in the real world and the time you spend scrolling. And know that there are days when it is better to keep your phone in a drawer.
Happy scrolling to you all, and may your world be filled with peace, creativity, and balance.