I’m consuming content with substance, and my mental well-being is thanking me.
I’ve always had a small dependency on social media. My guess is I’m not alone.
Thanks to that fateful day in Zuckerberg’s Harvard dormitory, I’ve been living with a true case of digital FOMO (fear of missing out).
Over the years, my hands became very familiar with the unlock and scroll routine.
As the world intensified in 2020, so did my bad habit.
Pressing news cropped up at every turn, and therefore the status updates followed suit. As COVID-19 made its way across the world, I found myself almost obsessively scrolling the doom and gloom that flooded my feeds.
I must not be the sole one, considering the web has come up with a reputation for this behavior: room scrolling.
On top of already feeling weighed down by the pandemic, the social media consumption I used to be doing was leaving me during a constant bad headspace.
I was weary and exhausted. I used to be worried about the impact it had been having on my psychological state as someone with generalized anxiety — especially because I used to be already experiencing higher rates of fear and stress thanks to the pandemic.
Being in quarantine didn’t help either. I had an excessive amount of time on my hands to take a seat around and scroll.
Instead of rushing to an office within the morning or finding out the nightlife afterward, I found myself sitting around and dalliance on social media.
Plus, I used to be isolated. That meant I used to be unable to digest everything I used to be taking in through a heart-to-heart with loved ones.
It’s fair to mention that scrolling on apps from morning to nighttime was having a tremendously negative effect on my psychological state.
So, I made a decision to try to do a couple of things about it.
1. Make social less available
I deleted Twitter and Facebook from my phone. My pesky little smart device is usually nearby, usually but 3 feet away. Having social media apps on my phone made it too easy to unlock and scroll whenever I wanted.
Every time I picked up my phone, whether it’s to see the weather, reply to an email, or change the song I used to be taking note of, I might usually find yourself giving in to temptation and checking an app or two.
Removing those inviting boxes from my handheld device means it’s harder to access the platforms. In turn, checking social media becomes more of a conscious choice.
2. Schedule your use
After deleting the apps from my phone, I made an unwritten rule to permit myself an hour every day to see them on my computer.
I believe social media sites have their value. They’re the place I’m going to listen to from friends I wouldn’t otherwise confine touch with. They’re where I study new job opportunities and connect with people, both friends, and strangers.
Plus, the memes are good for amusing (sometimes).
I don’t want to banish the platforms from my life altogether. I just want to massively restrict my usage.
Each day, usually around late afternoon, I give myself one hour to catch abreast of Twitter and Facebook. I sift through what’s happening and what people are talking about. Then I close the browser and leave it at that for the remainder of the evening.
In holding myself accountable to the present deadline, I’m also getting into some self-discipline practice.
3. Be selective
Since I couldn’t click on the apps as easily, I found myself consuming more nourishing content, like books, podcasts, and well-written articles.
Instead of learning about sensationalist COVID-19 updates from unknown sources on Twitter, I started checking trusted news sites and taking note of important press conferences.
Without the apps, I even have longer to dedicate to meaningful content. I’m finishing more books than ever before and making my way through my podcast queue.
I’m consuming content with substance, and my mental well-being is thanking me for it.
The science behind the scroll
There are clear links between social media and anxiety, depression, loneliness, and even FOMO. Simply using your phone fewer results in decreases altogether of the above.
Interestingly, triggers for phone users seem to be pretty universal. this suggests that regardless of your age, you likely use your phone as a coping mechanism for boredom, awkwardness, impatience, and fear.
The thousands of unconscious opinions we form and decisions we make while scrolling can significantly change how realistically we see ourselves and therefore the world. they will even affect the choices we make about our health.
The pandemic is already hard enough with depression spiking. Let’s give our psychological state an opportunity.
Opting for other forms of screen time, like video games, is a method to avoid the negative effects of social comparisons and feelings of inadequacy.
For me, trading the scroll for meaningful content has been a game-changer.
What I learned
Social media has its merits — but they are often truly addictive. When won’t to excess, it can have negative effects on your mental well-being.
Without management, social media was chewing into my time and draining my energy. Restricting my time on apps has made me feel li
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