Setting Boundaries with Social Media
Does this look familiar to you? Books laying unread, writing and journaling put to the side, phone in hand, scrolling and refreshing your social media feed?
It is so easy to get sucked into the dopamine hit that is social media. When I started my blog a year and half ago, the intent was to read more and write book reviews. I discovered the wonderful world of #bookstagram that, while amazing, can suck you right into endless scrolling, constant comparison, and follower and like counting. It is funny that a platform that is all about reading is just the thing that takes you away from it. I have been working on putting my phone down, picking up a book (or journal) instead, and reconnecting with why I started my blog and IG page in the first place.
While I am not a professional at this and each day presents a new challenge, I am a work in progress and these are tips that have worked for me. I treat each day like the new day that it is, so if I slip up and find myself mindlessly scrolling more often than I want to, I don't beat myself up about it, but instead put the phone down and start fresh the next day.
Tips to set Boundaries with Social Media:
Set a time limit.
Instagram is the social media app that I use most frequently, therefore I set a time limit on that particular app. There are days that I ignore the time limit and continue scrolling (see the last tip) and those days I often feel yucky, but I start the next day fresh and work on keeping to the limit.
Delete apps that do not bring you joy.
Scrolling should not feel like work. Social media is an amazing tool, if used correctly. Delete apps that are distracting and not bringing you joy. A couple of years ago, I deleted Facebook off of my phone. I did it for a 30 day digital detox and ended up never looking back. Facebook gave me major anxiety and I found myself constantly comparing myself to others and reading depressing news that popped up on my feed. At first, I worried I would be missing out on something (FOMO is a real thing!) because my college girlfriends and I have a rolling group chat, but guess what? They just texted me instead! And if there was something important, they let me know that way. I also have the option of checking on a computer, but do so less often then when it was readily available on my phone.
Out of sight, out of mind.
I used to use my phone for my alarm clock and the first thing I did when I woke up and the last thing I did before I fell asleep, was scroll on social media. I know, I know. There are so many studies out there that discuss how bad this is for your sleep cycle, not to mention mental health. I ended up purchasing an old school alarm clock and started charging my phone in a different room. The first few days felt strange. I often tried grabbing for my phone and had this urge to check it, but the longer I did it, the easier it got. That has helped cut down on my screen time immensely.
Be mindful and use "scroll with intention."
I got this tip from a podcast that mentioned how we often are barely thinking when we scroll social media. There is no beginning and no end, so you can literally scroll until the cows come home! I am all about mindfulness, so I apply that to social media. When I find myself zoning out and my finger swiping without command, I think to myself "am I scrolling with intention?" Most of the time, I'm not. What does "scrolling with intention" look like? It looks like authentically engaging (liking and commenting on posts that bring you joy,) scrolling when you actually have the spare time to do it, and using social media when you are by yourself, not allowing it to take attention away from the human beings around you. Yes, novel concept, but being present when you are with actual human beings!
Give yourself a set time in the evening where you plug your phone in and leave it. Set a time in the morning where you won't check your phone until that specified time. Give yourself a day, or a weekend, off from social media. When you do this, actually log out of the app so you aren't tempted. Heck, even delete the app from your phone and re-download it later. For some reason, the extra action of clicking to login, is a strong deterrent. Don't ask, but it works.
Give yourself grace.
Last, but most important, give yourself grace if you have a day where you spend more time on social media than you intended. It happens. We all have days where the clock slowly ticks at work and our phone is right there. Or the kids are being extra needy and you just need a mental escape. Just remember, tomorrow is a new day.
Bottom line, put the phone down and slowly walk away. Grab a book or your favorite human and have some meaningful interaction.
I would love to hear if you have any tools you utilize to set boundaries with social media. Please share in the comments below!