Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family; while also sharing information about your life, hobbies, and interests. However, social media can also be emotionally draining, especially if you’re on it daily, for many hours. Here are some ways you can manage your social media without letting it deeply impact your personal, or even professional, life.
Avoid falling into the hole
If you’re already feeling down, check yourself before scrolling through your Facebook or Twitter feeds. “Social media can be a swamp of self-pity,” says April Masini, a New York-based relationship expert. “For instance, if you’re not sure of your relationship, it’s easy to come close to stalking a love interest online and hyper-analyze all of his or her relationships via social media.” No matter what you’re down about, adds Masini, there’s always grass that’s “greener” right on any one of your social media pages. “So, if you’re down at all, chances are social media can make you feel like you’re at the bottom of the barrel because so many people are on there showing off their family vacation, new car, or fabulous date. If you’re feeling blue, prepare to go a shade darker.” In other words, go do something else—treat yourself to a movie, browse a bookstore, or even take a mini vacation—until you’re ready to face the social media world again. Need inspiration? Check out these great reads that will get your brain flowing creatively.
Take a WiFi-free vacation. Literally
“I love traveling abroad, because during the day, I don’t have easy access to WiFi, so I’m forced to enjoy my trip and the people around me,” says Samantha R. Strazanac, who runs a North Carolina-based marketing firm. “Once I return to my hotel and can access my social media, my happiness diminishes because I often feel sad when scrolling through my media feed. It puts a damper on my mood.” Even if you can’t afford to jet off to Europe, try leaving your phone behind the next time you take a walk. “You’ll appreciate the birds tweeting again and forget about the ‘tweets’ on Twitter that can be pretty negative,” she says. Related: Find out the nine things you should never do over text.
Seek professional help
Wendy O’Connor, PhD, a Los Angeles-based therapist, believes it’s a smart idea to seek help if you really cannot disconnect from social media. “Social Media can be wonderful. However, when your basic life tasks and interactions are interrupted that is a sure sign you are headed down a toxic road,” she says. Seek out professional help from someone who specializes in technology addiction or cyber education and find out how to shift the toxicity to empowerment. “When you find yourself emotionally drained from trolling or stalking social media, stop,” adds O’Connor. “Technology addiction is real, but it can be treated.” Here are the telltale signs you might need therapy.
Recognize your isolation
“While technology can provide a nice escape from life stressors, with Netflix binges and Instagram surfing, our attachment to technology can also breed isolation,” says Chinwe Williams, PhD, a licensed professional counselor and associate professor at Argosy University. “A study conducted by the University of Missouri Columbia found that that increased social media use negatively impacts real-time romantic relationships.” Imagine going on a date and your partner is constantly checking their phone and not paying attention to anything you’re saying. Chances are, you won’t be too happy with that person. Extend that same “phone down” courtesy to someone else, whether you’re on a romantic date or enjoying (person-to-person) laughs with friends. Keep your phone in your bag, and really live in the moment. Related: Here are 25 words to never say on a first date.