4 healthy habits for social media

By Kate Norris,
updated on Nov 29, 2023

Person laughing at something on their phone.

We provide some simple suggestions to help you sustain a positive relationship online

The world of social media plays a significant part in the way we interact. It's a remarkably useful resource for keeping in touch with loved ones, learning new skills, finding inspiration and accessing timely information at the palm of our hands.

However, if used excessively, social media may have a detrimental impact on our well-being and overall mental health by way of ‘doom scrolling’ or being consumed by negative news.

Being online too much can lead to feelings of exhaustion, loneliness, irritability, and disconnection. This is partially due to the fact that too much screen time can prevent us from engaging in other healthy activities like self-care, exercising, sleeping, or spending time in nature.

According to research by Kings College London, 39% of adults between the ages of 18 and 30 reported symptoms such as losing control over how much time they spent on their phones and feeling frustrated when they couldn't access them. This is particularly prevalent in Gen Z (those born between 1996 and 2010) who are the most likely to cite that social media impacts their well-being.

The good news is you don’t have to ditch your phone completely in order to maintain healthy social media habits. Here we provide some simple suggestions to help you sustain a positive relationship online.

How can I set healthy boundaries when using social media? 

1. Set limits

Setting time limits for social media use can be a useful way to set healthy boundaries online. This can ensure you don’t get sucked into mindless scrolling for hours on end. Instagram now has the option to set daily time limits, which can help you make a conscious decision about how much time you want to spend on the app.

2. Switch off

You may choose to set aside one day a week dedicated to unplugging completely. For example, Sundays are the day when I allow myself to recharge for the upcoming week. I find if I allow myself to become absorbed in online scrolling, I begin the week feeling exhausted and burnt out. Instead, I try to engage in activities that provide a sense of enjoyment. This could include practising mindfulness, going on a long walk or catching up with friends and family.

3. Use social media intentionally

Instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, use social media in a more deliberate manner. If you're restless, take a moment to consider what you want from social media. Do you want fashion advice? Inspiration for a new recipe? Have you checked in on your friends and family? By changing your perspective on your own social media use, you can improve your relationship with the apps and protect your mental health and well-being.

4. Consider a social media purge 

While muting is perfectly valid and a good way to establish space between yourself and content you don't want to interact with, it's also important to understand if it's time to unfollow. Look at the accounts you interact with and consider why you follow them, maybe it's the cooking vlogs or the fitness influencer with useful workout tips. However, If you find yourself feeling anxious or triggered when coming across certain posts, give yourself permission to take a step back. 

Social media can be a powerful resource for knowledge, inspiration, and maintaining connections. But, in an increasingly digital world, using social media mindfully is crucial to protecting your mental health. The next time you catch yourself reaching for your phone to distract yourself, consider putting it away and embrace the present moment. Look for fulfilling activities to keep yourself occupied such as reading, exercising, keeping a journal, or practising meditation.

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