If social media makes you anxious, it’s time to adopt these 9 healthier habits

There’s a huge difference between enjoying social media and being consumed by it.

The distinction rests in your emotional response. If social media is leaving you feeling more anxious than amused, it’s time to evaluate your habits.

Let’s be honest, social media can be a double-edged sword. While it can connect us with friends and family, it can also fuel our insecurities and fears.

That’s why it’s crucial to adopt healthier habits that let you enjoy the positives without drowning in the negatives.

In this article, I’ll share with you 9 habits that can help you foster a healthier relationship with social media, one that leaves you feeling good about yourself and not anxious.

1) Limit your screen time

Let’s face it, we all spend more time on our phones and tablets than we’d like to admit.

In the world of social media, it’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of endless scrolling. One minute you’re checking a friend’s latest post, the next you’re deep into the feed of a stranger’s vacation photos.

This is where anxiety can creep in. The constant barrage of perfectly curated lives can trigger feelings of inadequacy and FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

So, the first healthier habit you need to adopt is to limit your screen time.

Decide on specific periods during the day when you’ll check your social media accounts and stick to it. You can even use apps that block social media access outside these times.

Doing this will give you back control over your social media use, helping to reduce anxiety and free up time for other activities.

Remember, it’s about quality, not quantity. Don’t let social media consume your day; instead, make it just a part of your day.

2) Don’t compare your life to others

Here’s something I’ve personally struggled with – comparison. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to those perfectly staged photos on social media.

I remember scrolling through my feed one evening, seeing everyone’s seemingly perfect lives – exotic vacations, fancy dinners, happy families. It made me question my own life. Why wasn’t I on a beach in Bali or dining at a five-star restaurant?

Then it hit me – I was comparing my everyday life to their highlight reel.

So, the second healthier habit is to consciously avoid falling into the comparison trap.

Remind yourself that what you see on social media is often just an edited version of reality. Everyone has ups and downs, but most people only share their ups on social media.

Once I realized this, my relationship with social media changed dramatically. It’s now a source of inspiration rather than a trigger for anxiety.

3) Practice mindful scrolling

Did you know our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text? This means that while scrolling through social media, we’re rapidly absorbing a massive amount of information, which can lead to overstimulation and anxiety.

The third habit is to practice mindful scrolling.

Instead of mindlessly scrolling through your feed, take the time to consciously engage with the content. Pause to read the captions, appreciate the photos, or understand the context.

This will slow down your intake of information and make your social media experience more meaningful and less overwhelming. Plus, it can also help you identify which types of content trigger your anxiety, so you can unfollow or mute those sources.

4) Set boundaries

One of the biggest issues with social media is that it can feel like it’s always demanding our attention. Notifications, messages, likes, comments – they all create a sense of urgency that can heighten anxiety.

The fourth healthier habit is setting boundaries.

Turn off non-essential notifications. Decide which updates are important and which ones can wait.

Also, consider setting ‘no social media’ zones or times. This could be during meals, before bed, or even designating one day a week as a social media-free day.

Setting these boundaries helps to establish a healthier relationship with social media, where you control when and how you engage, rather than feeling constantly pulled in by it.

5) Follow accounts that inspire positivity

Social media is a reflection of the people and pages we choose to follow. And let’s be honest, not all of them are good for our mental health.

The fifth healthier habit is to curate your feed with accounts that inspire positivity and uplift you.

Unfollow or mute accounts that make you feel inadequate, judged, or anxious. Instead, fill your feed with accounts that share positive messages, inspire creativity, promote self-care or mindfulness, or just bring a smile to your face.

Remember, your social media experience is in your control. Choose to follow accounts that bring joy and positivity into your life.

6) Remember that it’s okay to disconnect

In our hyper-connected world, it’s easy to feel like we always need to be online. But sometimes, the healthiest thing we can do for ourselves is to disconnect.

The sixth habit is to give yourself permission to step away from social media, even if it’s just for a short while.

It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to prioritize your mental health over staying updated on every post and story. It’s okay to be present in your real life, without feeling the need to document it for social media.

Taking a social media detox can be incredibly freeing. It gives you space to breathe, to reconnect with the real world and most importantly, with yourself.

Remember, your worth is not measured by likes, comments or followers. You are more than your online persona. So take a break whenever you need one, without guilt or explanation. Your mental health will thank you for it.

7) Engage, don’t just observe

A while back, I found myself spending hours on social media, just scrolling and observing. I hardly ever left comments or engaged with the content in any meaningful way.

Over time, this passive interaction began to feel isolating. I felt like an outsider looking in, which only added to my anxiety.

So, habit number seven is to actively engage on social media.

Start conversations, leave comments, share posts that resonate with you. Social media is not just about consumption; it’s about connection too.

Once I started engaging more and observing less, I felt a shift. My experience became more positive and less anxiety-inducing. It felt less like a spectator sport and more like a community.

8) Practice gratitude

Amidst the hustle and bustle of social media, it’s easy to lose sight of what truly matters in life. We get so caught up in the online world that we forget to appreciate the real world around us.

The eighth healthier habit is to practice gratitude.

Take a few moments each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as a good cup of coffee, a conversation with a friend or a beautiful sunset.

Practicing gratitude can bring you back to reality and put things into perspective. It’s a gentle reminder that while social media is part of our lives, it’s not the whole story. There’s a bigger, more beautiful world out there waiting to be appreciated.

9) Seek professional help if needed

If your anxiety related to social media is significantly impacting your daily life, it may be time to seek professional help. Therapists and counselors are trained to help you navigate these feelings and develop healthy coping mechanisms. There’s no shame in reaching out; your mental health is important and deserves care.

Final thought: It’s about balance

The complexities of our relationship with social media are often a delicate dance between connection and isolation, between being informed and overwhelmed.

At the heart of it all is the concept of balance.

Social media, in itself, is not inherently bad. It’s a tool, a platform, a stage. It can bring us closer to distant friends, keep us informed about the world, and provide a platform for self-expression.

However, like all good things, it requires moderation.

The key to reducing social media-induced anxiety is not necessarily to abandon these platforms but to find healthier ways to interact with them.

These habits we’ve discussed are not quick fixes, but rather small steps towards creating a more balanced and less stressful relationship with social media.

But remember, it’s okay to not have it all figured out. It’s okay to take a step back when you need to, and it’s okay to reach out for help.

In the grand scheme of things, social media is just one facet of our lives. There’s an entire world outside those screens waiting to be explored and appreciated.

So here’s to finding that balance – may your journey be filled with self-discovery, growth, and most importantly, peace of mind.

Picture of Graeme


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