Today is National Best Friends Day, a time to celebrate that special person that will go to the end of the Earth for you. Because we’re social animals, friendship is an essential part of being human. A strong social bond can actually lower stress and lowers the risk of some diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. And in old age, social isolation can actually be more harmful to health than diabetes in developing and controlling hypertension.
So pick up that phone, text your best bud, and say thanks for being there today.
Of course, we know that, considering the pandemic and the past few recent years of social isolation, connection has become a very important part of day-to-day life, thanks in part to social networks and apps like Zoom. But now that restrictions have eased across the country, some of us have found it difficult to disconnect from the very platforms that helped us soldier on when social distancing was the norm. For that reason, we’ve compiled 5 healthy habits for using social media without getting sucked into an endless doom scroll.
1. Avoid social media before bed
The blue light emitted from your phone tricks your brain into thinking it's daytime, making it more difficult for you to fall asleep. This alone would be a great reason to not check Instagram five minutes before bed, but there’s a deeper reason: Staving off anxiety. Say you’re in bed, about to fall asleep and you stumble onto something dramatic happening in the comments of your favorite follow. Chances are, you’re going to become more engaged, doom scroll the comments, and experience “Fear of Missing Out,” which induces anxiety and keeps you from sleeping. So, if you’re looking to avoid this situation, charge your phone overnight in a different room from where you sleep. Problem solved.
2. Limit your scroll time each day
If you’re on an iPhone, you can actually go to Screen Time and set limits on the time spent on each app on your phone. Why would I want to do that? Simple. Too much time spent on social media is making us unhappy. In fact, a small study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology shows that people who limit their time spent on social media to under 30 minutes each day report happier moods and feelings.
3. Schedule a certain amount of time per week to disconnect
Unplugging from social media for just one day a week can make you more productive, more focused, and may decrease anxiety. You’ll sleep better, improve in-person relationships and potentially improve your brain health.
4. Use social media for inspiration
Social media is what others want us to see and it's not fair to compare ourselves to that. It’s important to understand that we are only seeing what other people want us to see, and most of the time, people utilize social media to exaggerate their daily lives. If you find yourself unfairly comparing yourself to something that’s unattainable in normal life, you might want to take a step back and focus on accounts that will inspire you instead of making you feel bad about yourself.
5. Put the phone away
Even gone out with a group of friends, and then wonder why you’re even out when everyone is on their phones? Me too. Keep the phone in your pocket, enjoy the moment and give your friends your full attention. It’s just the polite thing to do.