Social media and technology in general can be incredibly addictive to the point where it feels like it’s dominating all aspects of a person’s life. Fortunately, it’s possible to reclaim that time by setting healthy boundaries. If you want to spend less time on your phone and more time living in the moment, there are some actionable ways to begin setting healthy boundaries with social media.
Understand Why You Are Using The Apps
A great place to start when it comes to boundary setting is seeking to understand why you are using your social media apps of choice. Are you trying to stay in touch with friends and family? Do you use it for work-related purposes, like client communication? If so, how much time do you spend on the app each day and why? Finally, what benefits does it provide beyond the obvious communication features?
Once you have answered these questions and have a better understanding of what your apps do for you, next, ask yourself what their drawbacks might be. Maybe you have noticed that your appetite has decreased as a result of exposure to certain influencers. Or perhaps you have less desire to go outside and move your body.
Finally, reflect on your own motivations for using these apps. Most often, there are certain feelings associated with signing into social media sites that prompt behavior such as compulsively checking notifications or posting status updates. This could be for validation purposes, a desire for connection, or some form of codependency. Taking the time to reflect internally regarding your own personal social media usage is a helpful way to get started with your new boundaries.
Set A Time Limit
Setting a timer for social media use will help you make a conscious decision about how much time you want to spend on the app, and it will stop you from getting sucked in for hours on end. Try setting a timer for your specific apps or your overall daily usage of social media. You can set this as low as five minutes, but start small and build up if needed.
iPhone users have the ability to set app limitations within their phones. This makes the process incredibly convenient and helps users hold themselves accountable. Once the set time limit has been reached the app is no longer able to be opened. There is an option to override the timer but this is where the implementation of your new boundaries comes in. Remaining consistent and holding yourself accountable will ultimately build resistance and make your time-limit efforts easier over time.
Audit Your Social Media Accounts
If you feel like you’re being too hard on yourself or if you’re finding that your social media use is causing negative feelings, then it’s time to clean up your accounts.
Removing accounts of those that produce these negative feelings is one way to set boundaries for your mental health. Although this can be challenging to do, it is especially important for self-esteem.
Consistently consuming the content of people that produces negative feelings has the power to drastically impact a person’s mental state. Comparison is ultimately the thief of joy and researchers have seen this firsthand with the emergence of social media. Ensuring that the accounts you do follow are uplifting, inspiring, and generally positive is crucial for your well-being.
There are a few simple ways to accomplish your auditing. Unfriending people that you either do not know well or do not have the desire to know is a great place to start. It can be all too easy to become wrapped up in other people’s lives, even if you have never met them in person.
Remember that many people turn to social media to share negativity. You don’t have to invite this into your life.
Additionally, you can consider blocking users who have been negative towards you in any way. This could be via direct messages or comments left on posts. This will prevent them from seeing anything else you post and in turn may help reduce some stress by removing the chance that you will see them pop up in the future. Ultimately, don’t be afraid of unfriending. If something makes you feel a sense of unhappiness, it should not have a place in your life, even if it’s virtually.
Balance Online Time With Offline Time
Being mindful of how much time you spend online versus in the real world is a crucial consideration for boundary setting. Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media per day is important for most people as apps like Instagram and Tik Tok have been shown to have addictive qualities.
For every hour you spend on social media, there should be at least two hours spent on tangible activities whether this is reading, walking, a conversation with a friend, or anything else that takes you away from scrolling. The timing requirements for this are an individual decision, though spending twice as much time in the real world versus on social media is a good starting point for many.
While social media can be a great way to connect with friends and family, it’s important to spend some time with these people offline as well. For example, going for a walk with a family member or cooking a meal with a friend can indulge this social interaction in a healthy way.
Additionally, spending time alone while off-screen is essential for positive mental health as well. This is a time in which many people process their interactions, make decisions, and reflect.
Utilize Mute Functions
You can also use some of the site’s built-in tools to set limits. Instagram, for example, allows you to mute people that simply don’t make the cut for your feed or people who are a general source of negativity in your life. You can also mute notifications from specific accounts or hashtags on Instagram.
For users with certain triggers like food or body weight, this can be helpful to avoid certain visuals. Twitter also offers similar options under its “Muted Words” tab within settings. These convenient functions exist for a reason and should be used as needed when it comes to setting boundaries.
Put Your Phone Away When You’re With Others
This is a relatively simple solution, but when it comes to social media, it’s one of the most effective. Turning off notifications and putting your phone on silent mode while at dinner with friends or family is one simple way to decrease social media use in the presence of others. You might also consider using airplane mode to avoid receiving any notifications that could be tempting to check.
Additionally, silencing your notifications during class or work meetings is a great way to ensure that you do not feel obligated to check any apps. These tactics make it easier for us to focus on what’s happening around us and once we start doing this regularly, the habit can actually stick.
It Does Not Have To Be All Or Nothing
Sometimes, it can be easy to feel like you have to be either all-in or all-out when it comes to setting boundaries. Many people may feel like they can not just have a small amount of social media in their day so they prefer to set no boundaries at all. Unfortunately, this reinforces the addictive qualities of social media to the brain.
The truth is that it does not have to be all or nothing when it comes to setting boundaries with social media or technology in general. It’s understandable that there will be times when you need your device more than others and it’s also okay if there are areas where you don’t want to set any boundaries at all.
An example of this could be morning phone usage. While many health professionals and therapists recommend avoiding social media for the first 30 minutes of the day, this is not always possible for everyone. For entrepreneurs or business owners that rely on social media for business, this could potentially cause more harm than good. Finding a middle ground where you feel confident that your boundaries are truly benefitting you personally is the key to implementing sustainable limitations.
Ultimately, it does not have to be all or nothing when it comes to setting boundaries with social media or technology. You can start by just picking one area to improve upon and begin working your way up from there. The more you practice these healthy habits, the easier they will become over time.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.
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