How To Make Social Media Work for You
Did you know that roughly 45% of the world’s population uses social media, with an average of two hours and 23 minutes spent per day on these sites? There was a period of time several years ago where I spent upward of three to four hours per day scrolling endlessly and aimlessly. The time flew by and it all felt very innocent.
I was liking and commenting on things like baby photos of people I went to high school with over 20 years ago, engagement photo shoots of the person that I met that one time at a Halloween party three years ago, and exotic vacation pictures of my colleague who went to Bali for her honeymoon. I justified my actions by thinking I was a good person and wanted to wish them all well.
I would then scroll for hours on fitness-influencer profiles, taking screenshots of their bodies and the workouts that they were posting. I’d spend time watching their videos, zooming in and out of the screenshots, and even purchased programs, equipment, and fitness apparel. For the record, none of it got used, and I worked out twice during this time period.
"Once I figured out how to use social media in a way that served me and my highest good, my life got much easier and I felt sane."
While I was busy being a "good person" and setting fitness goals for myself that I took minimal action on, my anxiety was through the roof, I was unhappy in my relationship with my boyfriend, and I felt like I would never have what other people had. I believed it was impossible for me. I started to make it mean that I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, fit enough. I decided my boyfriend would never want to pursue a serious relationship with me and we started fighting all the time. My ability to be a present and happy single mom was severely impacted because I was too wrapped up on social media comparing my real life to someone else’s highlight reel.
Now, don’t get me wrong, social media is great. As an entrepreneur, this is a great way to connect from people all over the world, make an impact, and generate income to support my family. But here’s the secret: You have to practice social media hygiene.
Once I figured out how to use social media in a way that served me and my highest good, my life became much easier and I felt sane. Here are the three steps I took to stop the scroll and restore my sanity.
1Set a Time Limit
Part of the problem was that I didn’t realize how much time I was spending on social media in the first place. A few minutes here and a few minutes there added up very quickly to hours per day! Now what I do is carve out specific times of the day for a set duration on when I want to be on social media. Scrolling is a tough habit to break because we naturally just want to pick up our phone and do something when we are bored or stressed to buffer our emotions. By being intentional about when I go on, though, I’m able to limit how much scrolling I’m doing.
Our brains have a natural tendency to compare and are geared toward negative thinking. When we are on social media, it’s natural to compare what we have to others. When other people have what we have, our brain will offer up thoughts like, "You’re never going to have that, you can’t lose 10 pounds, etc." When we know that is the case, it’s easier to manage our mind and remind ourselves that what we are seeing is someone else’s highlight reel. We are getting only a glimpse of their carefully curated photo grid and have no idea about what’s going on in their lives. Someone can be posting amazing photos but be struggling with another area of life. I remind myself that everyone is on their own journey and there is no rush to get to the final destination. This helps me stop comparing and start living my own life.
When we focus on others, we forget about ourselves. We don’t fulfill our own needs and self-care goes by the wayside. However, when we bring time and attention back to ourselves, this opens up space to deepen our own connection with ourselves. It allows us to learn things about ourselves, appreciate our bodies, and find gratitude for the little things that make life so full.
Once you get a handle on your social media hygiene routine, you’ll quickly go from feeling frenzied to grounded. Social media is a tool — let it serve you in the best way.