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Managing Social Media Use

As we continue through this year of virtual work, classrooms, and social gatherings, you may find yourself concerned about the amount of time you are spending online. We are also relying now more than ever on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to connect with one another and stay updated on current events. These social media platforms certainly have their benefits, but excessive use, or frequent engagement with negative or distressing posts can leave us feeling depressed, anxious, and lonely.

If you are looking to create healthier social media habits, here are some tips to help you get started:

1)Place limits on when and where you are using social media.

With our phones so easily accessible to us, we often don’t notice that we are scrolling through social media platforms while engaged in other activities. Remember that social media is not a replacement for in person interaction with those we care about. Think about the moments of your day that offer genuine social connection (e.g., dinner with family, play time with your kids) and commit to not engaging in social media use during these times. This commitment could involve turning your phone off or moving it to a different room during these times.

2)Unfollow accounts that increase negative feelings

If you find that seeing posts from certain accounts constantly leave you feeling frustrated, anxious, angry, or sad, unfollow them. This sudden decrease in mood that you experience from seeing a post that is distressing can negatively impact your mental health, especially if this is happening multiple times each day. Go through the accounts you follow and consider deleting those that leave you with a bad feeling when you scroll through their posts. Make sure the accounts you are following align with your values, interests, and what’s important to you.

3)Set time limits on social media apps

When your intention is to quickly scroll through Facebook or Instagram, five minutes can quickly turn into thirty. Excessive social media use can negatively impact your ability to prioritize other tasks for the day, and can leave you feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities that were not complete. If you have an iPhone, setting time limits can be done easily through your settings, by selecting screen time, followed by app limits. Time limits for social media platforms can also be set by using timers, reminders, and apps such as Offtime and Moment.

4)Set a daily goal for the amount of time spent on social media

Most smart phones allow you to examine through your settings the amount of time you are spending each day engaged in social media/app usage. It can be eye opening to check these stats and see that on average, more of your day was spent on social media than you would have thought. Rather than being hard on yourself for this, allow these stats to motivate you. Experts recommend that 30 minutes or less per day is the maximum amount of time that should be spent on social media to allow for improved health outcomes. Use your stats to motivate you to set a personally tailored goal that will allow for decreased usage over time.

5)Don’t bring your phone, tablet, or computer to bed

It may be tempting to lay in bed and scroll through social media before you go to sleep, and this can even feel relaxing. However, to fall asleep effectively, your body needs an increase in the hormone melatonin. The light from your devices decreases melatonin production, leaving you more alert, and making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. Also, stimulation from the posts you are reading and scrolling through can keep you wide awake, and may lead to feelings of stress. Commit to putting your phone at least three feet away from your bed thirty minutes before you are ready to go to sleep.

If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or loneliness, we at Quintessential Health are here to help and listen. For more information on the services we provide to help combat SAD, please visit us at www.qhealthoneline.com or call us at 1-833-QHCARES.

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