Startling statistics show that social media use is correlated with a “worsening of well-being’ and exacerbated feelings of unworthiness and envy. Facebook’s own former vice president for user growth, Chamath Palihapitiya, advised people to take a “hard break” from social media. “We have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,”
We know this, yet many of us continue to scroll. I continue to scroll.
Perhaps the ‘worsening of well-being’ is more connected to how we use, not if. I’m finding the use of these platforms can be done in a way that supports well-being so long as there’s discipline and awareness.
I work to shape my use of social media into a mindful and more enjoyable practice, crafting my feed to serve me, and attempting to use these weird platforms wisely. I practice remembering that what I’m doing in this moment is contributing to what I’m becoming, and that what I take in through my eyes and ears is now a part of me. I’ve certainly not yet mastered this mindset, at times catching myself getting lost and ironically feeling disconnected as I use my device, but these guidelines below are helping me be more productive in my using. It is all a practice, a discipline, and the goal for me being enhanced wellbeing and a sense of connection, rather than perfection, or disconnection.
Some mindful guidelines I implement to curiously and compassionately explore and shape my use of social media. Deep and steady breathing throughout always helpful!:
- I consider putting my phone down and don’t even look if it doesn’t feel appropriate to the present moment. I do my best to offer presence to the one I’m with, not the screen. Always a practice, and only I know where my presence is most productively placed.
- I ask myself with kindness and curiosity why I’m looking – Connection? work? Do I need a laugh or want to learn and be inspired? Am I wanting to see creative self expression of others? Am I bored, lonely, happy, sad? What need is social media meeting for me in this moment? I look within and listen, some answers may be revealed and then…
- I ask myself if it’s wise for me to continue – could I do something else that may feel better or may meet my needs more skillfully and compassionately? So many possibilities – perhaps I’d benefit from calling a friend, taking a nap, going for a walk, or even doing the laundry instead of opening Instagram. OR maybe I’m wanting to be inspired and touched by others, in which case some time on Instagram (or whichever platform) may serve.
- I ask myself how I feel as I scroll – Am I noticing any criticism of myself or others as I look through? Do I have self limiting thoughts of needing to be more or less than what I am? Am I feeling inspired, drained, connected, alone? All of this can be insight into areas of me that are needing care and tenderness, and ultimately showing me if my choice of using social media is helping or harming me. After all, judgement of self or others is rooted in my own insecurities, trauma, core wounds. I can reframe the experience to tend to personal growth, an opportunity to turn criticism into admiration, inspiration, and compassion for self and others. Or maybe I just need to set it all down…
- Time limits – It works best for me to put a limit on how long I log on – different day to day. Being honest with the above guidelines and awareness of my priorities can help me determine the length of time that best serves.
- Set up my feed to feel good – I genuinely enjoy following my friends, supporting and loving them. I check out funny stuff, like Ellen Jimmy Fallon, or @scarymommy. I follow people that inspire me with their wisdom and creative capacity like poets and yogis and artists and thinkers, and I am forever a student and seek profiles that have the intention to expand consciousnes. I attempt to avoid anything that does not contribute to the good in me.
Did I mention this is a practice? Let’s go easy on ourselves, find forgiveness and acceptance as we continually shift and shape ourselves moving more into our fullest expression of Self.
Social media can be a helpful, fun and interesting resource. To do so, consider making it a mindful practice, managing your time, and checking in with how you’re feeling when you’re scrolling through – is the scrolling helping or harming you? Perhaps time away from it all would best serve you. And clean out your feed so you get what you need to serve your highest and wisest self. A few excellent resources below that can support the work you’re doing in mental health counseling and mindfulness practices. There’s so many out there. Find the ones that speak to you. Check them out and let us know what you think:
Holistic psychologist – Dr. Nicole LePera. Wise and mindful support and inspiration. Meditations are available on instagram and youtube.
Tara Brach –
Podcast: Tara Brach
Michael Stone teachings – Buddhist teacher, and yogi
Podcast: Awake in the World
Podcast: Finding Mastery
Somatic experiencing institute – a nonprofit organization dedicated to resolving trauma. Website: traumahealing.org
How To Use Social Media Wisely and Mindfully
-Cristen Malia, LPCC, E-RYT 500
Cristen earned a master’s degree from Naropa University in Transpersonal Psychology, Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in mindfulness. To schedule with Cristen click here: