To be able to balance our social media lives, firstly we need to know what the causes of having an unbalanced life might be. Some of the signals for imbalance are connected to the negative outcomes of social media, including:
Anxiety: Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a phenomenon where people are terrified to be left out of the communication and community. For education leaders, this might be a fear of missing the next government guidance document or the assessment checklists being changed.
Making unfavourable comparisons: A fast route to unhappiness is to compare your life with others. It’s easy to find yourself comparing with the headteacher down the road who has a better playground, or happier parents or are more skilled than you, but what does it achieve? Comparing yourself with others can damage your wellbeing and sense of self. You are you, and you’re doing an incredible job!
Tech addiction: At its extreme, constantly checking your smartphone can lead to tech addiction – an inability to put your phone down or switch it off. In fact, the urge to check your phone has been proven to be as addictive as a gambling.
So, with this in mind, what can you do to have a more balanced and positive relationship with your social media life?
- Turn off your notifications on your phone.
- Have specific times when you ‘look’ at social media
- Don’t be tempted to scroll through social media when you are having a break or you’ll find yourself not having a break! You are still on screen time and you could be making yourself more anxious instead of trying to wind down.
- Purge your contacts. Use it for what it was intended for, connecting with your friends and people who make you happy. Someone you once went to high school with who you never spoke to is not someone that you want in your community.
- While you are at it, purge who you follow ,like and groups. Fill your feed with things that make you feel good. For me, I have vintage shoes, cats and plants. So when it is scroll time, I’m looking at things that make me happy. I watch the news on the TV, I don’t need it on my phone too.
- If there are people or groups that you want to have in your community but don’t want to see their posts unless you go onto their page, then you can go onto their profile and unfollow them. You are then still a member/friend of the group/person but you don’t see their posts in your feed.
- Challenge your unhelpful thinking habits and negative thoughts from something abstract to something more concrete using rational ideas. For example, you may compare yourself to other people on Instagram and feel that their life is better than yours/they’re coping with lockdown better than you, but ask yourself is Instagram an accurate representation of everyone’s lives or is it just a highlight reel?
- Sort out your blue light. Changing the settings on your phone means that your eyes aren’t working overtime.
- Make sure that you’re not on social media (or check your phone at all if you can) at least an hour before bed. This will help relax your mind, ease your tired eyes and give your brain time to recover from the day. Above all it can help your wellbeing because you are not falling asleep while thinking of other people's posts in your head.
- If you feel upset by something that has come up on your social media, talk to someone. Friends, family or even group admins. If you feel that it is starting to really impact your wellbeing then there are charities and people that you can call. I’ll add them to the bottom of this blog.
I hope that these tips have helped you gain some balance back in your life. It is all about maintaining your wellbeing, while not isolating yourself from the world.
We are social creatures and there are so many benefits to social media, it is just about finding the balance.