Ever posted a photo on Instagram, only to refresh your feed at least 10 times an hour just to watch the number of likes and comments grow? Or maybe even reaching for your phone in the morning to check your emails, even though you’re probably still half asleep?
Now comes the next set of questions — have these moments ever been accompanied by feelings of disappointment, dread, or even a sense of anxiety? Have you ever wanted an out from social media and technology, but knowing that it really has a hold on you?
What you’re feeling is often referred to as social media fatigue or burnout. It occurs when one spends excessive amounts of time on technology, and eventually experiencing a range of physical and mental stress. The bad news is that social media is here to stay, at least for the next couple of decades. But the good news is that you can break free from this rut. We’ve rounded up some tips on how you can get started on your road towards a digitally minimalistic lifestyle, and a better mental and physical well-being!
It all starts with a declutter
Load up the home screen of your phone and think hard about the number of apps you actually still use on a regular basis. Do you even still play Temple Run? Maybe look into your Instagram feed and ask yourself honestly, how many from your following list have you met up with in the past year or so?
On the other hand, it can also be in the form of something less tangible. Look through your follower or following lists on various social media sites and ask yourself just how invested you want to be in their lives. The truth is, it is not possible for us to be involved in the lives of hundreds of people at once, especially while juggling work or school. Not only will we be unable to form strong personal bonds, but it can also do harm to our general mental health. Social media has a way of romanticising the lives of people around us, often making us feel FOMO, or even inadequate and jealous.
Prolonged feelings of such emotions can have detrimental effects on us, so the lesson on decluttering here is simple: Surround yourself with positive vibes, and don’t overwhelm your senses with too much.
Defining your purpose for social media
While you continue working on your social media cleanse, another reason why people feel fatigued by their social media consumption is simple: they are on it simply because. No other reason than the fact that it is a habit, a ritual that one simply cannot quit.
While it might sound like an over-exaggeration, it really isn’t. So set aside some time while you can, and ask yourselves these questions: What is the purpose of an app to you, what exactly do you hope to gain or expect from using it, and does it serve your bigger purpose in life?
Fair warning — these questions could possibly be very difficult to answer #HardToSwallowPills, and may possibly send you down an existential rabbit hole of sorts, but fret not! You don’t have to have it sorted within a day, or even a month. Do it all on your own time.
Set boundaries with your phone
Just like having a relationship, it’s all about setting personal boundaries in order to make sure that the other party (or object, for that matter) does not end up taking up too much of your time, to the point where you are unable to get anything done productively.
A good way to do this with your phone is to set it on ‘Do Not Disturb’. This means you won’t get disturbed by push notifications from apps or messages at any point, giving you the concentration or rest you might need. While this might not be realistic, especially when you need to be contactable, a good practice is to do it when you are about to head to bed. This would make it easier for you to have a restful sleep, instead of being potentially woken up by messages or notifications.
If being off the radar for periods of time is really not feasible, then you can try to set aside periods where you use your phone in a day. Instead of mindlessly replying messages throughout the day, you can instead set aside pockets of time through the day to respond to all your messages at once, or to leisurely scroll through your social media apps then. Not only does this help you decompress from whatever task you were working on, but also allows you to set limits on how much time you want to spend on your phone. When you give yourself more control over your use of social media instead of the other way round, you’ll start to feel a lot less anxious and stressed out.
Focus on going offline
This one is a no-brainer. Being outdoors has time and again been hailed as the secret to leading a happier and healthier life, especially in the digital age. With that comes one or two caveats. The first being absolutely no access to social media, and secondly, not having any kind of technology at all — not even music.
This is to help address the issue of what is commonly known as ‘solitude deprivation’, a term defined by Cal Newport, and refers to not being able to be alone in one’s thoughts without distractions from others. Self-reflection is an important part of personal development and growth, and will require a certain amount of concentration that we often do not have access to these days.
So whenever you can, pack your favourite snack and maybe a good book, and head out to your favourite park or beach in order to sit and spend some quality time with yourself. If you feel that this might not work for you, fret not.
At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all way of living, and so if it means bringing your best friend along for some alone time to recharge, then that’s fine too! But just remember — no social media distractions!
No matter what people say, social media is here to stay. However, your phone is not an extension of yourself. It is all about finding ways in which you can lead a happier and more fulfilling life without having to rely on social media.
Finding a good balance between your life offline and online is key to better mental and physical health, and we hope that with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to kickstart that journey to a you that is not defined by social media.
This article is brought to you by Standard Chartered Bank (Singapore) Limited. All information provided is for informational purposes only.