Have you ever found yourself scrolling on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok and all of a sudden, you look up and four hours have gone by? Or maybe you get in too deep looking at your friend’s account, then going to their friend’s page, and so on until you wind up on a page all about cute corgi puppies. Well, I am here to tell you that you are not alone. We have all been there.
Sometimes, when we are mindlessly scrolling, we start to go down a path that is not beneficial for our mental health. For example, you may constantly look at your ex’s social media, compare yourself to celebrities or others, or find yourself emotionally responding to content. This can cause anxiety, depressed feelings, or even trigger past traumas. Eventually, this may lead you to want to take a good ol’ “social media cleanse,” where you avoid your social platforms for a period of time. People step away from social media for a number of reasons – to improve mental health, spend their free time more intentionally, disconnect, etc.
As someone who works in the digital space daily, it can be very hard to cleanse yourself from social media. I find no shame in the social media cleanse as I believe you should do what is right for you at that moment. I have friends who have deleted social media altogether and are the happiest they have ever been!
Over the past couple of years, instead of a cleanse I have changed the way that I look at social media. Yes, there is always going to be content that triggers you, but one way that helps me is to remind myself that I am in control of my newsfeed. I am the one that is choosing to follow certain people, engage with certain content, and allowing myself to showcase certain aspects of my life. Here are a few steps to help you take control of your social media and create a healthier online space for yourself.
Taking Control of Your Feed
At one point, there was this era that we had to be friends with everyone we ever knew on social media, and now, people ask for social media handles before even asking for a phone number. I am here to tell you that it is okay to unfollow people who post things that you do not agree with. If you find yourself getting upset every time you see John Smith’s posts… unfollow him! If you just went through a very intense break-up and you don’t want to see your ex’s posts, or you don’t want to be tempted to go “creep” on their page, unfollow them, or better yet, block them! At the end of the day, this is your newsfeed and these are your feelings. You are in control and you don’t owe anyone an explanation for unfollowing or blocking them if it is protecting your mental health and well-being.
Displaying Your Life
Sometimes, we get caught up and think that we really know someone because we follow them on social media. In reality, we are only seeing what they want to share with us through their social. Not every blogger, fitness model, celebrity, or couple is 100% living a “perfect” life. This is important to remember when you find yourself comparing your life to someone else’s on social media. On the flip side, remember that you are the CEO of your social media accounts and you allow people to see only certain aspects of your life, too. Not all of us operate the same on social media as some people display their every move while others go months without posting or never post at all. And guess what? All of those options are completely fine because it comes down to what that individual wants other people to have access to.
Managing Your Time
If you are looking for ways to manage your activity on social media, I highly suggest taking a look at how much time you spend on the apps. If you need help managing mindless scrolling, set a time limit for yourself and stick to it. Or be intentional about what you are going online to look at and log off when you are done.
iPhone users: Go to Settings - Screen Time - See All Activity
If you want to set a time limit, click on App Limits – Schedule Time Limits on Social Apps
Android users: Go to Settings – Digital Wellbeing and Parental Controls
If you want to set a time limit, click on Screen Time or App Timers to set your goals.
This blog article was contributed by Jaelyn Arndt, Digital Media Specialist for Nexus Family Healing, an agency of Nexus Family Healing.
Nexus Family Healing is a national nonprofit mental health organization that restores hope for thousands of children and families who come to us for outpatient/community mental health services, foster care and adoption, and residential treatment. For over 45 years, our network of agencies has used innovative, personalized approaches to heal trauma, break cycles of harm, and reshape futures. We believe every child is worth it — and every family matters. Learn more at nexusfamilyhealing.org