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It takes a lot of time and effort to find the right proportion of funny, fun, and professional content to post on your social media pages. Monitoring the posts you’re tagged in to make sure they’re appropriate, carefully cropping photos that show too much skin, and eradicating curse words from your feed can feel like it’s your job — because it kinda is.
But constantly monitoring your social media accounts at all times is a ton of work and can quickly take the fun out of it. It can even result in your social media accounts being a huge source of anxiety — but for many of us it’s a necessary evil. Pair the need for making sure all of your content is boss-approved with the fact that social media is highly addictive, and it’s no wonder that you’re sucked into your Facebook feed in bed every morning. I’ve got some tips for unplugging that will keep you from losing your mind over whether or not you’re posting the right things.
1. Be Intentional
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of checking social media every time you get a moment of quiet. We’re conditioned to be uncomfortable with silence or waiting, so we need a distraction to fill the minutes spent standing in lines, sitting on the subway, or eating lunch alone.
If you’ve found that social media is taking over your life, reconsider using it as a distraction. Try deleting the app from your phone so you only check your account when you’re at an actual computer. Creating some separation can help keep you from getting sucked into your feed at every slow moment — but you’ll need to be sure not to substitute your Instagram or Twitter instead.
If this seems a little too extreme, consider having off-hours where you don’t check in on your social media. Instead of impulsively popping on whenever you feel like it, try limiting yourself to a certain window of time each day where you’re allowed to check social media, say, from 4-6 p.m. This can help make you aware of exactly how much screen time you’re putting in as well.
Still struggling to stay away? There are apps that can help keep you off social media if you find you need a little extra help.
2. Leave Your Phone at Home
If you just can’t keep yourself from checking your social media accounts when your phone is in your hand, remove the temptation altogether. Try reserving some time from after work until you finish dinner where you don’t use your phone at all. Use this as charging time, where you’re not allowed to touch your phone except to take phone calls. You can pretend your phone is a regular old corded phone if it helps.
If you try this social media cleanse for a few weeks, it’s likely that you’ll find that your IRL social relationships take a turn for the better. A University of Cincinnati resource notes that kids who had less exposure to social media were significantly better at reading people’s emotions than those who were regularly using phones, computers, and TVs. We’ve all been guilty of checking our phones at dinner, or having our eyes glued to our phone during car rides instead of chatting with the driver. After some time away, you’ll probably stop thinking about your feed so much.
3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
One of the biggest contributors to our social-media induced stress is constant comparison to other people. It’s easy to forget that everyone’s social media profiles are intentional. They’re carefully curated to portray each user in the most flattering light; photos are edited, personal issues are carefully omitted, and accomplishments are highlighted — especially on the pages of tech-savvy young professionals.
If you’re feeling a lot of career-related pressure to maintain a particular standard in your posts, reconsider where you network. Social media is a great way to stay connected with your co-workers, but it can get a little dicey when your crazy roommate from college and your new supervisor are on the same friend list. The writers at Firm of the Future suggest sticking to less personal social networks for your career connections at first, like LinkedIn.
We know that the content we’re exposed to on social media can have a major impact on our mood and emotional well-being, thanks to some illegal and ethically questionable studies performed by Facebook a few years ago. It’s important not to use the number of likes your posts get as a measure of your self-worth. One tip that can help here is turning some of your notifications off so you’re not tempted to examine your tally each time you post.
We often forget that social media is meant to complement our lives. We get preoccupied with recording the best moments so we can prove they happened to our Facebook friends instead of appreciating them while they’re actually happening. If you’re doing it all for the ‘gram, why do it at all? Life is about creating great moments — but no one says you have to share them with the world.
It can be tough to to find the perfect balance with social media, but the most important thing is that you keep things in perspective. When we’re not intentional about how we use social networks, it’s easy to let them take over our lives. Try unplugging for a while and see how you feel. It’s easier to be present when your phone isn’t there to distract you, and chances are you’ll be much happier if you do. When you’ve found some balance, you’re much more likely to also find success.