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4 Practical Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Use for a Happier Life

by Laquesha Bailey about a year ago in social media
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Take Control of Your Digital Life

4 Practical Ways to Optimize Your Social Media Use for a Happier Life
Photo by Dominik Dancs on Unsplash

One of the bad habits I hope to axe this coming year is my compulsive use of social media. It doesn't matter the situation, I always seem to have my phone glued to my hand, watching the thousandth TikTok compilation, scrolling mindlessly through Reddit and consuming content that adds little value to my day-to-day experiences. While I believe that social media is largely a force of good and can enrich our lives in numerous ways, it can also be toxic if misused and have a negative effect on your overall mental health and wellbeing. Here are my top 4 ways to optimize your social media use for a happier and more fulfilled life.

1. Limit usage after waking up and before bed

We're all guilty of this. Alarm rings, we roll over and before we even think to do anything else, we're on our phone, scrolling and trying to catch up on everything we've missed since the last time we were on our phone…eight hours ago. Or this: it's 2AM and despite being bone tired and having a million things planned in a few hours, we're scrolling, liking, commenting. Cut it out! 

For one, it sends the wrong message that social media is the most important thing in the world to do in the morning and therefore, should be the first thing you do in the morning. It's not. Instead try creating a morning routine that you stick to and must complete before even thinking about checking your phone. It could be as simple as: wake up →make bed →brush teeth →Instagram. Or even more complicated: wake up →make bed →yoga →breakfast →brush teeth → wash dishes →Instagram. Make turning to social media the 3rd or 4th thing you do in the morning. 

Likewise, hopping on social media right before bed is also potentially problematic. Research has shown that phone use before bed can not only make it more difficult to fall asleep but also affect the quality of sleep we enjoy at night. In the same way that you should aim to craft a pre-phone morning routine, develop a nightly routine that requires you to put the phone down at least one hour before bed. My suggestion for this is brush teeth → skincare → stretching → reading →sleep.

2. Set aside "social media-free" time

This one is pretty self-explanatory but consume social media…don't let it consume you. Make sure that your social media browsing, scrolling, liking, commenting and TikToking are punctuated by time for yourself. Pick up a hobby. Draw. Read. Knit. Do Karate. Dance. Learn to Code. Cook something. Meditate. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it's something that you love and thoroughly enjoy doing. 

3. Curate the crap out of your social media feeds 

I don't know about anyone else but when I open up Instagram and go on my explore page, I'm flooded with images of conventionally pretty, thin women. Nothing against conventionally pretty, thin women but as someone who doesn't fall into any of those categories it can be quite disheartening and make me question a lot of things about myself. It's important to recognize that social media and websites like Instagram, TikTok and Twitter are not real life. 

They are a contrived, filtered, highlight reel. Because it is an inorganic creation, you as the user have the power to make it look and feel anyway you want it to. Social media algorithms show you posts that they think you'll be interested in based on your historical activity. In other words, Instagram and TikTok are attentive to your likes, so use that feature sparingly. Unfollow people and pages that don't bring you joy. Stop liking drama/celebrity gossip pages and they'll stop appearing in your feed. Send the algorithm feedback by clicking "Not Interested" when posts pop up that you're not a fan of. 

4. Condense social media usage to specific points of the day

This is a bit of a weird one and actually a tip that I picked up while listening to Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and that is to condense your social media usage across all platforms to specific times throughout the day. Let's say I decide I'm only going to go on social media between the hours of 5–6 PM. During this time, I'd check Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Reddit…all of it. I can only check social media during that specific window and no other. It's enough for me to get updated on everything so that I don't experience massive FOMO but also so little time that it's not seriously impacting the rest of my day.

That's it! Those are my top tips and tricks for using social media in a healthier, non-compulsive way. Do you also have problems with overusing your phone and social media? What are some strategies that you use to combat this problem?

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About the author

Laquesha Bailey

22 years old literally, about 87 at heart. I write about self care, university life, money, music, books and whatever else that piques my interest.

@laqueshabailey

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