Social media can be a blessing and a curse. It’s a great way to stay up-to-date with your friends and family, but it can also drag you down. Whether it’s the sheer volume of information or the negative and politically charged posts, social media can dramatically impact your mental state. Below are six steps to adapting your social media experience to limit the negative and maximize the positive.
- Choose the Right Content
The first step to turning around your social media experience is to be selective about the sources of information to which you give your attention. Conduct an immediate audit. Unfollow individuals and media outlets that cause you the most anxiety. Consider making lists of individuals or sources you trust and giving them the majority of your focus. After a successful audit, avoiding clickbait and other uninteresting posts should be easier. Additionally, you can have more faith in the overall value of the content you interact with. Once you’ve removed the sources of your anxiety, consider adding in some more lighthearted positive sources. There’s no shame in adding random kitten pics to your newsfeed to give yourself a little break. This is a step people often overlook because they follow things they expect to like or that are popular, but rarely do they follow individuals or media outlets based on the emotional direction of the content they share.
- When You Engage, Be Constructive
When your social media feed is dominated by anxiety-causing posts, it’s easy to get sucked into a particular comment thread that brings you down. Instead of letting that happen, consider concrete actions you can take to address or help change a situation. For instance, you might make a donation to a cause you support, call a representative about your viewpoint on an issue, attend a rally, or volunteer your skills where they can be helpful. Translating a negative feeling about a trending issue into action can help free your mind to move on to the next thing in life without regret.
- Set Personal Boundaries
Social media can be very engaging, taking up a lot of time and focus. Consider limiting your exposure to social media by either limiting the amount of time you spend on social media or setting times when you will not engage with social media. Only allow yourself a set amount of time on each social media site or decide you won’t look at social media during the two hours before bed. These limits allow you to relax, focus on other things, and prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed at key points during your day.
- Meet People Face-to-Face
Make time to meet with friends, family and inspirational people in person. Share a meal and a laugh. Meeting with people face-to-face is scientifically proven to increase happiness. Additionally, laughing helps to reduce stress. Laughter triggers a release of happy chemicals which can in turn both boost immune response and create a more positive state of mind. Taken together, meeting people in person and experiencing a sense of belonging and friendship can go a long way to reducing anxiety and promoting a lasting positive mindset.
- Allow Time for Mental “Play”
Let yourself daydream away from social media. Find internet sites to wander through for the sole purpose of cultivating a positive interaction. Plan your dream vacation, carefully curate your DIY collection on Pinterest, or do your leisure reading. Finding ways to positively interact with online information that isn’t just via your social media feed will help to balance your overall internet experience, making it feel less like you only see bad news or overwhelming random information.
- Get Offline Completely & Invest in Mindfulness
When you find your online exposure is unnecessarily causing you anxiety, take a moment to step back and do something in real life. Try a project that requires you to create something with your hands. It could be as simple as baking cookies or knitting. For some it means taking a moment for themselves and investing in mindfulness. Many of our users report that Spire helps identify times when they are experiencing unnecessary tension and helps to guide them back to a calm and focused state. Learn more about the science behind Spire here.