The Social Media Cleanse: A Harm Reduction Approach To The Use Social Media

Don’t let the title freak you out! I am not proposing that you put your phone on lockdown for the next 2 weeks (although your brain would probably thank you). What I do want you to do is think about the way that your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Etc. make you feel.

Do you feel excited about life? Inspired? Creative? Relaxed? Productive? Mindful?

How about self-conscious? Jealous? Lacking? Body-conscious? Embarrassed? Behind in life?

If I had to take a guess, I would bet that the latter creeps up time and time again. We get drawn in by the depth of information and the ease of access we get from our smartphones. That little red notification excites us, as someone haws just “interacted” with us in some way (and we hope it’s in a positive way). Logically, we know that we are spending too much time interacting with and putting too much weight on, our online presence. But to go 0 to 100 and completely stop all usage can be extremely difficult. A cold turkey approach is not likely sustainable. And realistically, most people don’t want to quit social media completely because there are benefits to using these apps. We get to connect with friends and family from across the country, get information about recent events, and find groups of people to use as support.

So, how can we maintain those positive resources, while decreasing all those icky feelings? How do we replace body conscious with confidence? Jealousy with Joy? Behind to Inspired?

Unfollow or hide accounts that make you feel bad about yourself.

If Rebecca from college apparently just “does it all” and you fill up with jealousy and rage when you see her “perfect life” (you know she only posts the good stuff, right?) UNFOLLOW HER. What about that fitness model who gets paid to exercise all the time and tell you how to lose 10 pounds in one week if you would just try hard enough? UNFOLLOW. These accounts are only making you feel self conscious about yourself and your decisions and setting unrealistic expectations. UN-FOL-LOW.

Follow more accounts that inspire you.

There are so many body positive accounts, parenting hacks, inspirational quotes. groups for working moms, groups for single dads, Chicago area events and discounts, local news, recipes for under $20. These are the types of things that can benefit you in your REAL life.

Decrease your screen time altogether.

Take a look at your phone, there is likely a tracker that can tell you how much time you spend on your phone and what apps you use the most. Aim to decrease that time by 10% each week until you feel that you have hit a healthy/reasonable amount for yourself. Set a timer or reminder. Don’t immediately pick up your phone when a commercial comes on, when you have a break in your work, or when you’re bored. Practice mindfulness by being in the moment.

Lastly, and I know how this sounds coming from a therapist, but go to therapy.

Even if its not with us at CFC. Those negative feelings that you get from seeing Rebecca’s posts (or others) are not caused by her. They are caused by your own beliefs about yourself. Unfollowing these people can help with the frequency of these feelings when scrolling. But if you still feel them when you aren’t scrolling, you may benefit from working with someone to understand why you feel self conscious about yourself or your decisions, or why you keep researching the same things over and over again but have a hard time making behavioral adjustments in your own life. The goal here is to live your real life in the best and most positive way possible.

Make the decision to value your time and your life over everything else. Less scrolling, more living. Choose inspiration over comparison. To schedule, a consultation give us a call at 815.641.8503

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