Ever feel like you’re spending way too much time on social media and it’s wrecking havoc on your mental wellbeing? Don’t worry, mama. You’re not alone.
I have a love-hate relationship with social media. For one, I have to stay somewhat active on social media because it’s part of my job as a freelance writer and content creator. However, I really hate the way it can suck you in and steal your joy, if you let it.
To be fair, social media isn’t all bad. A LOT of good things can come from social media. It’s a vehicle for philanthropy and charitable giving, it can help foster a sense of community and support, it can educate and spread knowledge, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good meme?
Even still, with the ability to do so much good, social media also has the potential to do a lot of damage, like spread false information (aka “fake news”), provide a platform for cyber bullying, fuel insecurities, and it can even take a serious toll on mental health, worsening depression and anxiety.
( If you’re an anxious mom, here are 10 ways to ease your anxiety. )
If social media is so terrible for us, why do we partake?
As moms, there is a lot to love about social media. You can share photos and updates with your family and close friends, connect with those in your community, learn new recipes (thank you, Pinterest), and so much more.
But we already have so much pressure on us to be the “perfect mom”, the last thing we need are more opportunities to compare ourselves, envy others, and experience guilt or shame – all the things that are served up daily on social media.
So how do you find a healthy balance? How can we utilize social media and all the good it can do without going over to the dark side, so to speak?
How Moms Can Have a Healthy Relationship with Social Media
Limit your social media intake.
Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well, if you find yourself checking your phone right when you wake up in the morning, using it in bed until you fall asleep, or mindless scrolling on and off throughout the day, cutting back may be more of a challenge.
My iPhone tells me how long I’m on my phone on average per day. I knew it was time to cut back when my phone was reporting a daily average of 6 hours. Yikes! I’m embarrassed to even be telling you that, but it’s true.
Now, I limit my time on social media as much as possible. I have to pop on to post content for my business and my clients, but otherwise I try to only use social media with specific intent. For example, if I’m looking for a new recipe to try, I’ll do a quick Pinterest search. If I have a question about freelancing, I’ll look for help in one of the Facebook groups I’m in. You get the idea. The point is, I avoid mindless scrolling at all costs.
( Click here to join the More for Mama Facebook group. Good vibes only, I promise. )
Take a social media hiatus.
If you find that you’re having a really hard time cutting back or if you’re noticing that your social media use is wreaking havoc on your wellbeing, then it’s time to take a break.
Taking a breather from social media has many benefits. For one, you’re likely to find you have more time to get more important things done or even to try a new hobby. Once you take a step back, you will see the crazy amount of time you wasted scrolling through your feeds. No judgment here. Remember, my average daily use topped out at 6+ hours! *covers eyes with hands in embarrassment*
Taking a social media hiatus can also improve depression, alleviate anxiety, and promote better sleep.
Set a goal of no social media for one week, a month, or even longer. When you do decide to jump back online, make sure to limit your time to avoid falling back into old patterns. You may even find that you don’t care to ever go back. Who knows?
Clean up your social media feeds.
I’m a worrier by nature and when I see a headline on social media about something terrible that happened to someone, I have to read the whole story. (I mostly followed parenting sites, so as you can imagine, most of the heartbreaking stories coming across my feed were about children and babies.) Then, I worry the same thing could happen to me or someone I love and I obsess, eventually Googling for hours. It’s a terrible cycle.
Realizing how unhealthy this behavior was and the toll it was taking on my emotional and mental wellbeing, I decided to clean house. I unfollowed every social media page that frequently posted bad news and I muted “friends” who often shared bad news.
I noticed that ridding my feed of bad news did wonders for my anxiety. So, I didn’t stop there. I also rid my feed of pages and people who pushed controversial and polarizing content, posted things that pissed me off, and anything else that didn’t, in the words of Marie Kondo, “spark joy.”
Some may see this as putting my head in the sand, but I disagree. I get my fill of credible news from reliable sources elsewhere. I don’t need social media for that. Keeping my social media feeds mostly positive and drama-free is crucial to my happiness, and to me, that’s more important.
Keep your circle small.
While growing up and navigating the shark-infested waters of middle school and high school, I heard this piece of advice more than once – “keep your circle small.” I think the same should go for social media.
Unless your career goal is to become an Instagram “influencer”, you don’t need thousands of followers you don’t know. You also don’t need to follow randos or accept every “friend” invitation you receive. It’s okay to keep your social media circle small.
Connecting with only those you know or who you have a genuine interest in communicating with allows you to better control who you’re sharing with and what you’re consuming. If you don’t have a good reason to have public profiles, keep your social media private. If your business needs a social media presence, make a separate business profile so you can continue to keep your personal life private.
Think about what you’re sharing.
Social media presents the perfect opportunity for oversharing. Of course, everyone has different comfort levels when it comes to sharing their personal life online, but everyone should take a moment to really think about what they’re sharing before clicking “publish.” Posting too much can make you vulnerable to trolls or worse, scammers.
It’s also worth saying that you should double-check with your spouse, family members, and close friends before posting photos or information about them on a public forum. It’s just common courtesy.
You should also be careful when it comes to reposting and sharing other people’s posts. We all have a duty to stop the spread of misinformation or fake news by fact-checking what we share. If you’re not sure it’s true, don’t re-post it.
Don’t obsess over vanity metrics.
Your self worth cannot be measured by “likes.” Let me say it louder for the people in the back. YOUR SELF WORTH CANNOT BE MEASURED BY “LIKES.”
If you’re getting hung up on how many “likes” your posts are getting or how many people are watching your Instagram stories, then it’s time for a break. Remember that social media hiatus we just talked about? You need one, now.
Limit your social media access.
If you’re having a hard time cutting back your social media use, limiting your access to it can help. Eliminate the ability to just pop on to Instagram or Facebook whenever you feel like, no matter where you are. The easiest way to limit your access is to delete the apps off your phone. Eek. I know, big step.
There are also ways to limit your access to social media on your desktop or laptop. You can either adjust your browser settings to block certain websites (i.e. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or you can install an app or Chrome extension that can temporarily block your access to social media websites. When I’m working from home, this allows me to have little distraction, except for those needy kids, of course.
Sometimes, the easiest way to break the addiction is to eliminate any temptation.
Don’t play the comparison game.
Here’s the truth, what you see on someone’s social media profile is only what they’ve carefully curated for all to see. Social media profiles never tell the whole story. You’ve probably heard this before, but I’m going to say it again –Stop comparing your real life to someone else’s highlight reel.
Comparing yourself to other moms you see on social media is so very toxic. If you find yourself constantly comparing yourself to the mom who seems to have it all together, it’s time to check yourself. Acknowledge the fact that what you see on social media isn’t the full story, take a break from scrolling the feeds, and focus on the positives in your own life.
Set social media boundaries.
One of the most important parts of establishing a healthy relationship of any kind is setting boundaries, and social media is no different. With easy access to social media at our fingertips, it’s easy to get sucked in to checking Facebook and scrolling through Instagram ALL THE TIME. The more time you spend on social media, the more addicting it becomes.
Regain control by setting social media boundaries. You can allot a certain amount of time per day to use social media and use a timer to hold yourself accountable. You can make it a habit to leave your phone in a different room overnight. Avoid using social media right before bed (it can disrupt and inhibit sleep), when you first wake up in the morning, and when you’re spending quality time with loved ones, such as during family dinner or when you’re out with friends.
Avoid the drama.
Unfortunately, the internet is a breeding ground for trolls. If you are spending time on social media, avoid drama like the plague. It’s not worth your time or energy.
I was never one to throw in my two cents to random people or comment on controversial topics, BUT I would sit there and read through dozens and dozens of juicy comments. Even though I wasn’t actively participating, I was investing my time in drama. Such a waste.
If you see drama brewing on social media, just scroll on by. And if you feel like you have trouble avoiding it, then it’s time for that break we talked about.
Know when to quit.
Let me tell you a secret – you don’t need social media. I promise, you will survive, even thrive, without it. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away, especially if you’ve tried all the tips above to no avail. For some people, the only healthy relationship they can have with social media is no relationship at all.
Like ripping off a bandaid, delete your social media profiles and don’t look back. If you struggle with only one platform, then just delete the one. You know your limits.
A healthy relationship with social media is crucial to your mental and emotional wellbeing. Limiting your social media use, unfollowing certain accounts, taking a break, etc. are all important acts of self care.
( Click here for more self care tips. )
What’s your relationship with social media like? Do you show up daily, do take breaks, or have you ditched it completely? I want to hear about it, in the comments section below.
And don’t forget to subscribe via email below!