Social media is a double edged sword; on one hand it allows us to connect with people all over the world, but on the other hand it also causes many people a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety.
Comparing your life to the lives of your friends and "influencers" is a daunting task, especially because social platforms have an unfair advantage. Learning to develop boundaries surrounding the use of your phone is a key step towards better mental and social health.
More and more people are taking social media cleanses. This may not be possible depending on your job, but you can take a step in the right direction by integrating five simple tactics into your daily life.
Just like setting boundaries in your relationships. You need to learn to set boundaries in other aspects of your life.
Give yourself parameters for when you can be on your phone. Ideally, work is dealt with during work hours. But let's be honest, this isn't a realistic expectation if you are running your own business.
If leaving work at work isn't a reality, try to give yourself a time table. A great place to start is 7am-7pm, after that it is time to decompress or spend with your family.
If you haven't always had these boundaries, setting firm expectations with everyone is vital. Let them know upfront about the changes you are making. If you do this without informing them, they may take it personally.
You have essentially trained everyone to expect you to reply almost instantly whenever they message you. You need to retrain them. You are available during certain times, but after that you are not going to be replying.
The worst thing to see is a couple or family eating dinner and everyone is locked into their phone not talking. Using your phone as a means of escape or a bandaid for awkward social interactions will continue to put distance between yourself and those around you.
As a rule put your phone in another room when spending time with friends or family.
Even having your phone in the same room as you, can cause anxiety. You may hear the beep of your phone, or the vibration and naturally be inclined to pick it up and want to reply.
You are having to relearn how to self soothe. Just like a child is weaned off their pacifier, you are being weaned off your phone. It is not a pleasant process, there will be plenty of growing pains.
How many of you sleep with your phone right next to you? What about in the same room? According to Brandon Peters, MD, a Neurologist and sleep medicine specialist, even if your phone is on silent next to you at night, the light from your phone affects the quality of your sleep.
You do not want to get into the habit of checking your phone during the night if you are struggling to sleep. Phones are designed to wake you up. So when you can't sleep so you grab your phone and begin scrolling through Instagram, you are not helping yourself fall back asleep, in fact you are waking yourself up more.
Put your phone in the other room.
Buy yourself an old school alarm clock if you use your phone to wake up.
External validation has become a drug. The rush of dopamine you get when you see a notification on your phone, hear a text "bing" or get another "like" on a photo is addicting.
You need to remember that your worth is found from within. How many likes a photo gets, or how quickly you reply to a message has no effect on who you are.
You do not have to justify your value to anyone. Know your worth, and how anyone responds is their decision. You have no control over their emotions or reactions.
Do things for you. Have a game-and-wine night with your friends not for the photo you can get, but for the quality time and laughter. If you are all on board put your phones away before the night begins.
FACE-TO-FACE TAKES PRECEDENCE
It is easy to get stuck at home behind a computer or phone.
You can have any conversation over text that you can in person. That being said, should you? No.
Relationships are built on a foundation of vulnerability and authenticity. You can have raw conversations over text, but that vulnerability is not really there. You are not spilling your heart to someone sitting across from you, having them see your cry-face, and you feeling ridiculous.
You can tell hard stories and give insight into your life, but actually experiencing the emotions with another person creates a bond unlike anything else. It is like eating a potato chip and pretending that it is actually a delicious pancake. Its flat and yummy, but that is about it.
Give face-to-face interactions precedence. The people you are spending time with are actually putting forth the effort to be present in your life. Those are the relationships to cherish and work hard to maintain. It shows dedication and intentionality.
It is time for a change. If you want a healthier relationships with yourself, family, friends, and coworkers, it is time to put the phone away.
When you set boundaries you are able to be more present. Begin by knowing your self-worth without having to be validated via external sources. Give your screen-time a limit, think about your routine, and implement a start and stop time.
Spend the hours you have without your phone developing deeper relationships, diving back into your creativity, and seeking knowledge through amazing books.
Peters, Brandon. “Good Night, Phone: Reasons Why You Should Not Sleep With Your Phone.” Verywell Health, 28 Oct. 2018, www.verywellhealth.com/reasons-why-you-should-not-sleep-with-your-cell-phone-4140997.
Haynes, Trevor. “Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A Battle for Your Time.” Science in the News, 30 Apr. 2018, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2018/dopamine-smartphones-battle-time/.