By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The University of Pennsylvania study found that after participating in an experiment, find out a significant decreases in anxiety and fear of missing out, suggesting a benefit of increased self-monitoring on social media.
However, cutting down or eliminating social media altogether may not be as easy as it seems.
Experts share a few tips for breaking free:
1. Delete the apps
If you want to go cold turkey following the election, Santos said to make it tougher to access your favorite social media channels.
“Delete the apps on your phone so you have to be intentional about logging in. Or, find a few friends who’ll commit to a social media sabbath for a few days with you,” she said.
You can also tell friends and family who often encourage you to go on social media that you’re no longer on the channels and would rather discuss topics not related to social posts.
2. Take on a new habit
If jumping on your social channels is your go-to action when you wake up, finish work, or jump into bed at night, plan to do something else during those times instead.
Vogel suggests going for a walk, reading, or talking over the phone or via text with a friend or family member.
“At first, it may feel uncomfortable to spend less time on social media. Developing new habits takes time, but it is possible,” she said.
Santos agreed and said to replace scrolling with healthy activities like getting more sleep or engaging in breath-based meditation.
“Social media can feel like an easy fix with a low start-up cost, and that means we use it because it’s easy… a quick way to kill a few minutes when we’re bored. Make it easy to do something else by making a list of ways you’d rather spend your time when you have a few minutes here and there,” she said.
3. Scroll past political posts
If you still want to see the good parts of your feeds, Vogel said to make it a point to scroll past social media posts that aren’t helpful for you.
“If political posts are stressing you out, you might benefit from getting your information from other sources. You can focus on entertainment, relaxation, and connecting with others during your social media time,” said Vogel.
And don’t let fear of missing out on information lure you back onto social media.
“Just because the news cycle runs 24/7 doesn’t mean you have to be following it with rapt attention 24/7. We can be informed citizens while at the same time controlling our intake of the news media. The same is true for social media,” said Santos.
4. Find positive news to follow
Another way to stay on social media without being exposed to negativity is to take control over your feeds by following people and liking news and posts that bring you joy or insight you appreciate.
“Try to balance the negative information with the good stuff. There is joy and positive news out there if you look. In the midst of the beginning of COVID-19 lockdowns, I followed the hashtag #COVIDKindness, which had lots of positive stories,” said Santos.
If unsettling posts make their way back into your feed and you start to experience negative feelings, she said take action.
“[I] suggest taking a break and making sure you’re paying attention to your body to notice when you need one,” Santos said.