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  • Writer's pictureAnneka Barrett

Is it time to cleanse your social media?

Social media, love it or hate it, plays a large part in our day to day lives, whether we like to admit it or not. Studies are increasingly indicating that it is addictive and for some people destructive. For this reason it is important we learn to take time away from our mindless scrolling, to become mindful of what information we are absorbing and what impact that is having on us.

The term ‘Social media cleanse’ has lots of different meanings if you search for this on Google. I want to define my meaning before going any further. I am advocating that a cleanse of your social media is a review of what you follow, how much time you spend there and if this is really the best use of your time. There are those who advocate deleting all accounts and never touching it again. Personally I don’t find this an effective way of integrating with our modern society. There are however two exceptions to this, firstly if social media is having a detrimental impact on your day to day life, or, secondly because you want to.

Here are some of the signs that cleansing your social media might be something to explore:

  1. Losing track of the time you spend on your social media accounts.

  2. Spending hours a day on social media.

  3. Checking social media to avoid doing other things, i.e. a work task you don’t want to do, or even the ironing.

  4. Are you comparing yourself and your life to others on social media, often coming off feeling dissatisfied or depressed?

  5. Do you ignore your kids/ food/ pet in order to get the perfect photo uploaded?

  6. Place value in the number of likes you receive?

If the answer to any of the questions above is ‘yes’, it may be time to think about your relationship with social media and how you could change it for the better.

The best place to start is to become aware of how you are consuming social media. Most of us are doing so mindlessly, scrolling, half concentrating on it while half concentrating on something else. For me I became addicted to social media when my children were babies. Half asleep, feeding a baby in the small hours of the morning this mindless activity gave me a little sense of gratification and distraction from the tiredness and boredom of newborns.

Social media is instantly gratifying, that is why we like it and why it is addictive. The problems can come when this mindless scrolling and desire for instant gratification consumes more mindful areas of our life. We start to have problems with impulse control because we aren’t getting that immediate hit or we stop doing things that were once important to us, like hobbies or sleeping!

How do you look at your social media mindfully? It sounds a lot simpler than it is. The key outcome is to retrain your brain. To stop it from going down that rabbit hole of mindless scrolling where you aren’t even fully conscious of what you are viewing and absorbing. There are some simple steps to start your cleanse.

  1. Turn off all notifications

How do you feel when your phone goes ‘bing? Like you have to address the ‘bing’ straight away right? That’s what the notification is designed to do, to notify you to take an action. If the ‘bing’ is in control of you, turn off the notifications. It should be your decision when you check your messages.

2. Check/ Limit Screen Time

This was an important step for me. When I decided to cleanse my social media I was surprised how long I was ‘on’ social. I was on there while doing other things and that seemed to make it count less. What I did was limit how often I was on social media every day. I would also do it in one or two blocks. This was awful at first, I kept finding myself going to ‘check’ my phone on impulse.

3. Review who you follow

If you do nothing else, do this step. Review who you follow and why. There is a lot of information emerging now to show that all the mindless scrolling has a surprising impact on your emotional well being. This has been particularly prevalent amongst young people and their self worth. Comparing your life to the snap shot you see online can have a dramatic impact on your own self worth. A lot of the time we are following people/ companies who are glamourising unachievable lifestyles and habits. I say unachievable due to the large amount of editing that can go on before a photo is published, air brushing away any ‘imperfections’. This is the equivalent to following a Disney Princess, it’s fantasy. As you practice mindfully using your social, be mindful of how accounts make you feel. If someone makes you feel bad, unfollow.

What will all this lead to?

By cleansing your relationship with social media you may find some surprising results in your life. Here are some of the most common examples.

1. Better Sleep

By not spending time looking at blue screens before bed helps to rebalance your circadian rhythms and melatonin production. You are also more likely to get more sleep if you aren’t scrolling before the light goes out.

2. Improved productivity

If you aren’t trying to distract yourself you are more likely to JFDI. It’s that simple. You will experience the gratification of actually hitting your goals and being more productive.

3. Have more time

You’ll have more time for old hobbies you used to love or even more time to exercise.

The gains are all things we know to be good for us, things we want in our lives. We simply have to be willing to make small changes in our daily habits to get there.

With any change, make small changes if doing all of the above seems too overwhelming.

Remember whatever you are going though you aren’t alone.

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