How to Cultivate a Healthier Relationship with Social Media

It’s all about social media these days

Whitney Barkman
Nov 20, 2019 · 7 min read

It’s where we hang out, where we meet people, where we learn new things, even where we shop — but is it leaving you feeling depressed, anxious, less-than or not able to put down your phone? Social media has begun to take over our lives and it’s affecting our mental health, our sleep, our real-life relationships and more. Contrary to those first two sentences, I don’t actually believe social media has to be a bad thing. I do think, however, we need to learn to use it more intentionally and not let it steamroll our lives. So, how can you have a healthier relationship with social media? As I’ve just returned to the land of Instagram after a two-week break, this topic is sitting at the forefront of my mind. Let’s chat about the good and the bad of life with social media, and how you can begin building a healthier relationship with these apps because let’s be real, they’re here to stay.

Social Media is Designed to Keep You Coming Back

Playing the Comparison Game

Do You Feel Alone and Separated?

Wait, It’s Not All Bad!

I love social media for all of these things. I learn so much from those I follow or interact with, I’m able to spread my own words further, I’m able to connect with so many beautiful, unique souls that I am so freaking grateful for. I’ve learned things, found amazing brands to support, been guided into deeper growth, all through people I follow on social media. I mentioned before, cultivating this type of relationship with social media takes intention, and it takes a few boundaries.

Let’s dive into how you can build a healthier relationship with social media.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Implementing Boundaries and Healthier Social Media Habits

Give yourself a few boundaries surrounding the apps. A couple of my favourites are to not pick up my phone for the first 30 minutes of my day, saying goodnight to my phone at least 30 minutes before bed and also staying conscious of how many times I check in on social media every day. Since I’m just back from a two-week break from social, I’m going to try out scrolling just once per day. I can share my posts and stories, but I only get to scroll once a day. And on the topic of my break, I highly recommend taking breaks every once in a while! Be it one day each week social media free, or maybe two weeks a few times a year. The clarity and balance that comes with a break now and then is truly beneficial to your health and mental wellness.

2. Turn Off Notifications

On a similar note to setting time boundaries and taking breaks, I also really suggest turning off notifications for your social media apps. Those little red dots always get me, so I turned them off. Then I can choose when I decide to check out what’s been going on and catch up on any messages.

3. Follow Inspiring Content Creators

This one is big. And it goes offline too. Surround yourself with people that inspire you and create meaningful content that resonates with you. There’s a saying that you end up like the 5 people you spend the most time with, this goes for social media too. Follow and engage with accounts that help you grow, feel approachable, have a life that inspires you, opens your mind, whatever it may be. Unfollow accounts/people that are judgmental, hurtful, mean, or just rub you the wrong way. This is your space, make it somewhere you feel good hanging out.

4. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Easier said than done, I know. But social media more often than not is where people show a highlight reel of their life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But keep in mind, when you’re comparing yourself to another, usually, it’s your flaws or weak points to someone else’s strengths. It’s your struggles in life to someone’s success. Or they’ve put in the effort to get where they are and you are just beginning. Whichever way you look at it, comparing gets you nowhere and leaves you feeling sad, anxious and lousy.

5. Engage

I mentioned that you can sometimes feel alone or separate, and one thing that’s great for that is to actually be social on social media. Crazy, right? I know it can feel intimidating, but if you’re following accounts that truly inspire you and you resonate with, this shouldn’t be too overwhelmingly scary. Respond to someone’s story poll or question, comment on a post that’s asking you to share, whatever feels right to you, but start to engage and connect with others online.

6. Get Curious

Here’s one of my more difficult tips. Get curious about yourself, give yourself space to self-reflect and ultimately grow. There’s a reason you feel less-than when you look at so-and-so’s Instagram, there’s a reason you seek the outside validation and the likes, there’s something behind why you’re distracting yourself with your phone. Whether this is insecurity, self-doubt, not-enoughness or something else. This is where you can grow. Because you are enough just by existing on this planet. And embracing your authentic self, building confidence and self-acceptance and shining your light in whatever way you desire, is how we release all the heavy and hard of this world, it’s how we connect and inspire.

It’s All A Work In Progress

Originally published at on November 20, 2019.

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Whitney Barkman

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Introvert | Quiet Soul | Highly Sensitive | Dreamer — Nature | Simple and Slow Living —

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