The thing about social media is… it was supposed to be social.
But maybe you find yourself scrolling through social media as a way of numbing out. Maybe the filtered joyful photos leave you dissatisfied your own life, wondering why you can’t get your body to look a certain way, questioning whether you’re the only twenty-five year old who hasn’t been to Bali yet.
Maybe you find yourself clicking on your newsfeed, updating, exploring, drowning in memes and quotes and photos, and forgetting what you really want out of life. Maybe your social media experience isn’t feeling so social anymore.
Your Real Life, the one under your feet that has traffic, and friendly neighbors, and loud neighbors, and misunderstandings, and peeling blue paint, and small soulful bites of mint chocolate ice cream… it’s patiently waiting for you to notice it again. Accept its invitation.
You don’t have to vanish from public sight, delete your accounts, or live off the grid to cut back on your scrolling habit. Here are five tips to help you put down your phone and create a more intentional relationship with social media:
- Be more proactive about connecting in real life.
Seeing an important life update on Instagram and passively hitting “like” is easy. But when is the last time you looked in someone’s physical eyes and asked how they were doing? When is the last time you stopped to really hear their answer?
Social media has made us lazy when it comes to doing the work of reaching out, making plans, and checking up on people. Take the time this week to actively set up a coffee date or phone chat with someone in your world – a friend from college, an acquaintance from yoga class, a long-lost family member.
If the act of reaching out feels awkward, take a deep breath and center into the moment. Remind yourself that this is how the vast majority of social interactions have taken place over human history. Embrace the discomfort and dive back into real life.
- Use an app to track your screen time.
You can install a usage tracking app like SPACE, StayFree, or AppDetox (among many others) to track your screen time and face the reality of how much time you spend on your phone per day.
Each usage tracking app has its own features: you can block social media apps at certain times, set limits for yourself, receive notifications when you exceed these limits, or earn badges and achievements through a gamified approach.
I downloaded my first usage tracking app in a defiant effort to prove that I wasn’t using my phone that much. The results were staggering: I was spending 4 to 5 hours a day on my phone. That number adds up to 28 hours a week – enough time to work a second job, or write a second book, or re-arrange my closet, or do pretty much anything more interesting than sitting on my phone.
Seeing your usage time laid out before you may be the jolt of motivation you need to make a change to your internet habits.
- Start a habit log.
You have your own unique flavor of when you tend to pick up your phone. For a few days, take note of when precisely you reach for your social media accounts.
Do you pick up your phone whenever you transition between tasks at work? Do you sneak to the Facebook tab to avoid an uncomfortable email you received? Do you scroll on your couch in the evenings when you’re bone-tired from work?
Once you notice when you grab your phone, you can replace those habits one by one. Go for a quick walk around the office between projects instead of grabbing your phone. Create a “no-scrolling-after-8-PM” policy in your home – and stick to it. Develop whatever habits you need to replace your old ones, and you will see that screen time number decrease.
- Fill your days with joy.
Watching everyone else’s lives from behind our screens is a form of self-abandonment. When we routinely ignore the small miracles of our own day in favor of peeking at everyone else’s days, it’s no wonder that we feel disconnected from who we are, what we want, and what we genuinely believe about the world.
Take a journal and write this affirmation ten times: I value myself more than I value social media. Then come up with one simple action you can take to show yourself that love and value today.
- Carry a book with you.
If you find yourself scrolling during those in-between moments when you’re waiting for a friend, waiting for the bus… really, just waiting at all…. try carrying a book or e-reader in your purse to read while you wait.
When we read, we absorb information at a slower rate and leave the world of five-second soundbites behind. In a world of shrinking attention spans, taking a couple of mindful moments to read and dive into a story feels like a luxurious rebellion.
Here are some Peaceful Dumpling recommendations for books for winter nights, books for your soul, and books with female heroes. You can even use a library card to save some cash while you read your heart out.
What are your favorite ways to stop scrolling and live more mindfully?
Related: Phone Killing Your Attention Span? How To Find Sustained Focus Again
How To Banish Social Anxieties & Win Over Any Room
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