In the aftermath of traumatic events in our community and across the country, it can be tempting to give in to endless scrolling on social media or news sites. However, checking every notification and reading every headline can have a negative effect on our mental health.
Here are four things you can do to take control of your feeds and improve your well-being online.
1: Set a time limit
Allow yourself to take a break from social media and news. Limiting the time you spend on social platforms and news sites can help you ease stress and anxiety. It can also help free up some of your time, so you can focus more of your energy on activities and hobbies you actually enjoy.
One way to decrease your time on social media is to designate phone-free spaces. For instance, you may decide that the areas where you do schoolwork are phone-free zones. This could include classrooms, study spaces and your desk area. By keeping your phone out of reach, you may find that you’re able to focus more on class or other tasks more easily.
Connecting with friends is another great way to take a break from online updates by focusing on the people you’re with. Spending meaningful time offline can help you disconnect from your feeds and reconnect with loved ones in your life.
2: Create boundaries
We all have different expectations for how we interact with people and how we want them to interact with us. Boundaries are a helpful tool to give us agency over our physical safety, communication, emotions, energy and time. They can also help us live by our values and determine what is and isn’t okay.
Setting boundaries online may look different for everyone. Choose boundaries that reflect your values and protect your well-being. Here are a few examples of boundaries you can set for yourself and others on social:
Remember that we can’t control what other people do, but we can control how we respond to it. Boundaries are just one of the many ways to do this.
3: Focus on things within your control
Just like we can’t control what other people say or do online, we can’t control what the news chooses to report on. If we get absorbed in the news, we may start to feel overwhelmed. When we engage with news in this way, we may lose our sense of control.
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by news stories, updates, details or outcomes, it may be time to take a step back and refocus your attention to things that are within your control. Sometimes it can be helpful to create a list. Here are a few examples of things that you can directly control:
Instead of focusing on what is outside of your control, focus more of your time and energy on the things in your life that you have a say in.
4: Mute or unfollow
It’s important to remember that we have the power to control what appears on our feeds. If your social platforms feel hostile, overwhelming or are negatively impacting your mental health, it may be time to hit mute or unfollow.
Muting can be a great tool to hide disturbing posts or rescue yourself from heated debates and discussions. If you don’t have a close relationship with someone, unfriending or blocking them may be good options. This will remove them from your view entirely and stop any notifications about their posts, comments and messages. Remember that muting and unfollowing don’t have to be permanent. You can always refollow or unmute people in the future as things change.