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Digital Wellness: How to Create Healthier Social Media Habits

Samuel Butcher
Written By
Samuel Butcher
Published On
Apr 17, 2023
A woman scrolling on her phone
Compass Health Center Logo

This post is sponsored by Compass Health Center

The internet and social media have become integral parts of our lives. They connect us with others in ways we never thought possible before. The hearts and thumbs up mean we like it. That’s why we post so much. Knowing that people on the other side of the screen are always ready to like, comment, share, and more can be potent and addictive.

Staying connected online has its benefits, but it’s not always the best thing for our mental health. This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s focus on creating healthy social media habits that prioritize digital wellness. We partnered with Compass Health Center to help uncover how exactly we can incorporate healthier social media habits in our daily life.

The Impact of Social Media on Digital Wellness

When using social media daily, it’s critical to understand your habits and be conscious about keeping your usage healthy. Seeing the memes, reels, and trending topics in the endless scroll of your newsfeed may be rewarding and keep you entertained for a moment. However, with the wealth of information at your fingertips comes the need to be aware of its impact on your mental and physical health.

Studies show that overuse of social media can lead to a decline in mental health and functioning, including neglecting personal and professional obligations, increased irritability, poor sleep hygiene, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Prolonged screen time can also cause physical health problems such as elevated blood pressure, vision problems, and orthopedic issues. 

Setting healthy boundaries and balancing screen time and other activities promoting physical and digital wellness is crucial to avoid these negative impacts.

How to Create Healthier Social Media Habits

Here are expert tips from our partners at Compass Health Center, for inviting digital wellness into your life and ensuring healthy boundaries around screen use:

1. Use a Time Management App to Set Your Usage Limits

Consider using an app to track and limit your social media usage. This can help you set goals and manage your screen time effectively. Apps such as Onward, Rescue Time, Apple’s Screen Time Tracker, and Google’s Digital Wellbeing can be helpful tools.

2. Make Access to Your Phone Harder

It’s easy to stop yourself from scrolling or liking another funny post when your phone isn’t right beside you. Consider putting your phone across the room or turning off your notifications, particularly when charging your device or going to bed. Modify settings to “do not save passwords” so access is more complicated and less rewarding. 

A group of friends hanging out while on their phones

3. Spend More Time on Activities That Don’t Require Your Phone

Tone down your phone’s brightness, or better yet, put it down to detach from technology and protect your brain from being overstimulated. Consider replacing screen activities with wellness activities such as spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, bonding with friends and loved ones, and practicing healthy sleep hygiene. 

When you’re out and about, move and engage in creative play. You can also take a moment to get some sunshine, pause and breathe in the peace and quiet of spending time alone. Reset and recharge before picking your phone back up again.

4. Do a Smartphone Cleanse

Take a step back and evaluate the apps and platforms you use daily. Ask yourself: Which apps do I truly need? Consider purging apps or social media platforms that you don’t use frequently or that don’t bring you joy or value. This can help you streamline social media usage, avoid overstimulation, and create a minimalist home screen that promotes focus and reduces distraction.

5. Set Your Screen to Monochrome Settings During School or Work Hours

Social media platforms and apps are colorful, visually stimulating, and easily distracting. By switching to monochrome settings, you can reduce the visual appeal of your phone or computer screen. This makes checking social media or other apps less tempting when you need to focus. This can be especially helpful for students and professionals who need to stay productive during school or work hours. 

Monochrome settings can also be easier on the eyes, reducing the strain and fatigue caused by excessive screen time.

6. Turn off Notifications When You Can

This is an essential step toward promoting digital wellness and reducing the harmful effects of excessive screen time. By turning off notifications, you can regain control over your attention and focus on tasks, whether it’s work, school, or spending quality time with loved ones. This can help reduce stress and anxiety, allowing you to be more present and enjoy your experiences without the constant pull of technology.

Additionally, turning off notifications can promote healthy sleep habits. By silencing your phone or other devices during bedtime and when decompressing is necessary, you can create a relaxing environment that promotes restful sleep and overall well-being.

Someone on their phone receiving notifications

7. Stay Off Your Phone in the Morning and at Night

The first and last hours of your day are critical for setting the tone and mood for the rest of your day. Being mindful and intentional can help you start and end your day on a positive note. Resisting the temptation to check your phone during the first and last hours of your day can help you start and end your day with purpose and mindfulness. 

Instead of immediately reaching for your phone upon waking or right before bed, take a few moments to check in with yourself, set intentions for the day ahead, or practice a few minutes of meditation or deep breathing exercises.

8. Create a Balanced Approach to Media and Technology

By being intentional and thoughtful about your social media usage and technology consumption, you can create a more mindful and present approach to your daily life. It’s important to consider the quality of media and technology you’re embracing and the time and energy you’re devoting to these activities. By carving out time to be screen-free and fostering face-to-face connections with friends and family, you can create a more balanced approach to your daily routine and digital wellness.

It’s also important to be aware of the impact of multitasking and over-stimulation on your mental and physical health. By prioritizing a single-screen task and avoiding the temptation to constantly switch between multiple apps and platforms, you can increase your focus and productivity while reducing stress and anxiety.

Set Boundaries With Your Social Networks

Setting boundaries with social networks is crucial for prioritizing mental and physical health. When you take control of your social media usage, you can take a step toward meaningful interactions with your connections and focus on living a fulfilling life.

This blog was written in collaboration with Leslie Brankin, PsyD, Director of Young Adult PHP/IOP, and Anna Finis, PsyD, Director of Child & Young Child IOP at Compass Health Center. Compass recognizes the importance of digital wellness and encourages healthy digital habits as part of its comprehensive approach to mental health care. Compass’s programs provide quick access to evidence-based psychiatric and mental health care, including PHP/IOP programs, to help children, teens, young adults, and adults manage their symptoms. Establishing healthy boundaries with media and technology is essential to protect our mental and physical health. 

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