Mindful Social Media Use

July 6th, 2020

Social media has made making connections with people much easier than before, but some studies have shown that these electronic interactions can create “fear of missing out” and occupy time that could be better spent on other more fulfilling life experiences. For some people, it could also reduce productivity at work. While it is not entirely feasible to “disconnect” from our phones in this digital age, I would recommend that we try to avoid the temptation to be staring at screens all the time.

Here are some tips to learn how to “live in the moment” rather than in our electronic devices.

  • Create a dedicated “time out” from electronic devices each day. I recommend putting the phone away when you are eating, watching TV shows/movies, and at least one hour before bedtime. Distracted eating can cause you to overeat. Looking at the news and social media before bedtime can also lead to disrupted sleep. Oftentimes when we sleep, we replay events or thoughts in our mind, particularly things that occupied our minds just before falling asleep.
  • Find activities to do with your family such as hiking in the woods, board games or puzzles and set a rule that no one can look at their phones during that time.
  • Remove or hide “addictive” apps from the phone/tablet. Games and shopping are great distractions and are not all bad. They can sometimes give your mind a mini “mental coffee break” especially when you are stressed out. However, if you are finding they are taking up too much of your time, they can negatively impact your health. That twenty minutes or more playing a game could be better spent getting some fresh air outdoors or exercising.
  • Use the “snooze” or “mute” function to remove posts from people who make negative comments. We all know people who use social media to vent about political or social issues, some of these may cause you to feel stressed or anxious.
  • Talk or video chat with other people. It’s amazing how little we talk to people, even with our closest friends. We communicate in media such as texts and instant messages, but we don’t talk to real people in real time as much as we should. Rather than posting “Happy Birthday” on social media, give your friend or family member a call. They will certainly appreciate it more!
  • Practice mindful eating or any other activity. We need to experience things more completely. Try this little experiment. The next time you start to eat something, take one small bite of the food and close your eyes. Take two full minutes to eat that piece of food, allowing your taste buds and your mouth to fully sense the full texture, taste, and temperature. You would be surprised how wildly complex and exciting one bite of food can be, but we don’t often realize it because we are eating too quickly and eating with distractions. You can adapt this to any pleasant life experience.
  • Meditate. I can’t overemphasize how meditation is the best solution to counter the negative effects of information overload. I think of meditation as the “reset” button for our brains, similar to pushing and holding the power button on the smartphone when you’ve opened too many apps and it freezes up.  Meditation helps our minds to restart with a clean slate.

With the current pandemic and physical distancing, many of us are turning to social media as a distraction and replacement for social interaction. However, we need to make sure that we set limits on the time spent and set aside quality time to enjoy nature and time with our families.  Live in the moment!