Social Media – For Better or Worse…?!

Whether you use social media for business use, your personal life or a mixture of the two, it’s something that’s becoming more and more a part of our everyday life for many of us. Social media has huge benefits including keeping us connected with people we may otherwise lose touch with, sharing our happy moments with others and being part of theirs and seeking advice/ support / education from a wide range of sources. However, like anything good, it can also have it’s downsides, especially if used to excess. Whilst we will all have different experiences of social media and vary in how it affects our wellbeing, this blog shares a few ideas and tips to make sure that technology and social media support your life and wellbeing in the best way possible.

  • Limit your screentime – In the ‘settings’ on most modern phones you can set downtime whereby the apps of your choice will require you clicking on an option to be able to use them for any length of time. Whilst you can still get around this and access them, having to intentionally click to do so can reduce ‘mindless’ habitual scrolling. More often than not a lot of our social media screentime comes from scrolling to ‘fill time’ such as whilst waiting for a bus, the kettle to boil, our friend to arrive and so on. Setting limits on screentime on certain apps also stops notifications popping up during key times so you can focus more on being present without distraction. This can be particularly useful during working hours if you can’t switch your phone off altogether and as part of your morning and evening routines.
  • Be intentional who you follow/ befriend – Social media can be an overwhelming place and we can feel bombarded with information. Everyone is free to post whatever they choose and it’s natural that we may find some of this disagreeable, negative or triggering in some way. Whilst we can’t control how others use social media, we do have some control over what we see. Curate your feed to include things that make you feel positive, inspired, loved, accepted or whatever else helps to make you feel good. If you can’t unfriend or unfollow someone without offense, you can mute them so they don’t appear on your feed. Set aside time regularly to audit who you’re friends with/following and make any amendments you need to reflect what YOU want to see and how you want to feel when you log in.
  • Go phone free – Go for a walk, meet a friend, go to an event… but whatever you do, don’t take your phone! In a world where we are constantly accessible via a huge range of audio, text messaging or video means, it can be hard to truly switch off and be in the moment. Going without your phone may well feel uncomfortable at first but it’s important that we learn to spend time both alone and in the presence of others without needing to do or be anything else or to show/tell others. There’s something magical about an experience that exists only in the here and now and chances are you’ll enjoy the experience much more fully than you would through a camera lens or with one eye on your messages. If you keep your phone with you for safety reasons then please ignore this tip, only try this if you feel absolutely safe and comfortable doing so!
  • Don’t believe everything you see – With just the click of a button or the swipe of a screen we can smooth out our skin, whiten our teeth, change our hair colour and so much more. Whilst it may be tempting to ‘enhance’ our images in this quick and easy way and there is nothing inherently ‘wrong’ about it, make sure you remember that even the people posting the images don’t look like that in real life. Try limiting your usage and consumption of filters/editing and increasing your awareness about how prevalent these are. Please remember that wrinkles, uneven skin tone, different body shapes and any other ‘flaws’ you might perceive yourself to have are perfectly natural and there really is no such thing as ‘looking perfect’. If somebody only likes you because of the way you look then I’d advise staying clear of them anyway 😊
  • Don’t compare yourself to others – Linked to the above point in terms of image, but also going wider into what people choose to show on social media. You’ve probably heard the saying ‘don’t compare your everyday life to someone else’s highlight reel’ and it’s so true. It’s rare that people post their make-up free faces at 5am when their children have had them up half the night or the sweat and tears behind the workouts that get them ‘that’ body (if you look good when you’re working out you’re not doing it properly!) Nobody is posting when their partner leaves their clothes all over the floor and forgets their birthday or when they just feel rubbish and end up crying into a tub of ice cream or a glass of wine (or both!) You’re the only person who sees every single second of your life – the good, the bad and the ugly. We ALL have ups, downs and everything inbetween – we just don’t put it out there for the entire world to see. Don’t forget that we’re fundamentally all the same is this human experience and nobody has everything all of the time.
  • Set your none-negotiables – Have some firm boundaries around your phone usage and stick to them. One example could be not using your phone for an hour before bed and after waking up in a morning, allowing you to start and end your day without distractions and to do something more relaxing instead. Your none-negotiables could be no phones at meal times or during date nights/ time with family or friends, or to take a phone free day once a week/month. The boundaries you choose are entirely up to you but by sticking with them you make sure that your use of technology fits around how you want to spend your time rather than draining you of it!
  • Post positive – As well as being intentional about what we consume online, we should also extend this awareness to what we share. Make sure that your posts reflect your true self, beliefs and values and that you’re not just posting to try and get likes or because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. Questioning your motivation behind what you share can help to ensure that you’re using social media in a healthy way.
  • Remember that it’s not real life – Someone can have thousands of followers online but feel they have nobody close to talk to, they could get endless likes on their selfies but still feel insecure about their appearance and they could be posting photos of their amazing family/relationships/ holidays to cover for not feeling so great about this stuff. This absolutely does not intend to be negative about social media and it’s amazing to share your happiness and success and see others’ too. Just remember to balance the highlights with ‘real life.’ Remember, there is no replacement for real human interaction so make sure you’re living in the real world/ present moment as often as possible and that technology fits into your life and doesn’t consume it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you’ve found some useful tips here. I’ve been trying these out and found a real sense of freedom with a lot of them and I hope you do the same. Please let me know any you found particularly useful or anything you’d add to the list. Until next time 🙂

Bev Meakin- Personal Trainer/Exercise Referral Officer and Complementary Therapist. Instagram @bevs_life