Social media has long been considered a “double-edged sword.” It helps us feel connected yet makes us fear missing out. It can boost our confidence, whilst making us feel jealous of others. It encourages creativity but can lead us to doubt whether we’re good enough. Whether it’s primarily good or bad is uncertain, but what’s known for sure is … we’re addicted.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do when you go to bed? Is it reaching for your phone and scrolling through your social media feeds with a blank mind and eyes fixed on the screen?
That’s the answer for many people. Research by Globel Webindex has shown that social media users spend an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes a day networking across an average of 8 platforms. And now that we’re spending more time on our own, we’re doing even more scrolling. It’s taking over a huge chunk of our lives.
But let’s not forget who’s in control; we’re the ones holding the device and doing the scrolling, and so the power is literally in our hands.
If we stop mindlessly scrolling through feeds that drain our energy and start making our use more conscious, we can use social media in a way that serves, nourishes, and benefits us.
Let’s start with Instagram. Although it often gets a bad rap as a deceptive self-esteem killer, if you use it mindfully and follow the right accounts it can be transformed into a great pocket-sized wellbeing resource.
Set Intentions and Expectations
Doing anything “mindfully,” whether it’s meditating, walking, or eating involves a conscious intent. Why are you doing it? What do you want to gain from it? How do you want to feel after it?
This seems very different from how we commonly scroll through social media. Waking up in the morning, reaching for the phone, and opening the app has become almost muscle memory, with no intent behind it. That leads to mindless scrolling.
But if we spend a couple of seconds thinking about the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of our actions. Before we reach for our phone, we can pave the way for a much healthier relationship with social media.
Remember, it’s not an extra limb we can’t live without, it’s a useful tool. Applying mindfulness can remind us to set intentions and expectations for our social media use, so we don’t let it drain our energy.
Related: “The Science Behind Spirituality”
Curate Your Feed
So now that you know what you want from social media, it’s time to choose accounts that will give it to you.
I’ve filtered through the jealousy, deception, and fake-news, and sought 10 roses of positive accounts to help you curate a feed that serves your own intentions and expectations:
For self-love: @recipesforselflove
Beautiful images and meditations by Amsterdam-based artist Alison Rachel on self-care, feminism, sexuality, individuality, boundaries, beauty, and self-expression. All the ingredients for self-love.
For female body positivity: @ChessieKing
A one-woman powerhouse of positivity. Sometimes she opens up about her past struggles with body-confidence, excessive dieting, and online bullying, and sometimes she dances around her house in a giant inflatable penis singing ‘I don’t care what you think about me’.
For male body positivity: @bopo.boy
Boys need body positivity too, and Steven Blaine is leading the way. The captions are everything on this account, so take the time to read them and feel the love.
For daily motivation: @mindsetofgreatness
Get your post notifications on for this one, and receive a little message of wisdom every day that makes you stop scrolling and start thinking.
For positive stories: @thehappynewspaper
The Happy Newspaper is a platform that aims to make you realize the world isn’t all that bad. This account recognizes the inspiring and incredible things people are doing across the planet that don’t make the regular news.
For appreciating nature: @natgeo
The National Geographic account makes it hard to deny that the world is a truly beautiful place. Add them to your follow list, and your feed will fill you with wanderlust, inspiration, and appreciation for the world at large.
For escaping burnout/stress: @thriveglobal
This account seeks to change the myth that ‘burnout is the price we must pay for success’, and shares inspirational quotes and resources to thrive without sacrificing your mental health.
For visual relaxation: @satisfyingvideo
From paint swirling to pottery, this collection of satisfying arts and crafts videos will leave you feeling all calm inside.
For cuteness: @harlowandsage
Adorable dogs all cuddled up. Need I say more?
For inclusivity: @wetheurban
A beautiful feed of calming colors, full of positivity and self-love that spotlights marginalized voices. Their bio claims their posts increase your power by 1000% — and I trust science.
Set your limits
Even if your feed is full of positive, beautiful, and inspiring pictures, life is truly lived away from a screen; sometimes you just have to put the phone away. It’s so easy to be sucked in and not realize how much time you’re spending scrolling, but there are ways to manage this.
You can keep an eye on the little clock in the corner of the screen, or set a timer to tell you when it’s time to resume real life. There are also many free apps that can help you track your social media usage.
Remember, you’re in control! Set intentions and expectations for your social media use, follow the right accounts, know when to close your phone, and your feeds will become a perfect wellbeing tool kit.
-Photo: Woman on a beach with a phone (Wikimedia Commons)