Monday, 14 September 2015

Self-Love September: 5 Tips for a Truly Self-Loving Social Media Experience

The role of social media in our lives is one of the hottest self-love topics! So many people find themselves experiencing a plethora of negative emotions as they scroll through Instagram and Facebook, falling prey to depressingly high levels of toxic comparison. I am often asked how it's possible to relish social media for what it can offer whilst refusing to let it make us feel bad about ourselves.

Social media platforms offer an incredible portal into the wider world. For me, one of the mot magical things about the advent of social media is how it's changed the way we discover and process information about things that are happening on the other side of the planet. News used to be filtered from the top down. Mainstream radio, print and television told us what it wanted us to know. Nowadays, all bets are off. People are blogging from war zones, uploading video from their iPhones direct to Youtube and starting movements from the comfort of their living rooms. How wondrous is that?! I also love the fact that so many people who may not have been inclined to keep a physical scrapbook or journal are finding themselves inspired to use social media to record major life events and joyous moments. Being able to stay connected to friends who live miles away is another plus. So many positives, so little time!

But there are major downsides. Social media platforms have an addictive component to them. People often find that they have lost hours to scrolling and refreshing, leaving them with that uneasy realisation that they've lost another day to the internet. That yucky feeling is made worse upon realising that the time spent on social media didn't even provide joy, inspiration or comfort but instead just created a sense of self-loathing. Steven Furtick was right when he said that our insecurities stem from comparing our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel. A person's social media presence is like their personal art gallery. They are constantly curating an exhibition of wondrous things to look at, read, appreciate and absorb. The art gallery is not a reflection of the individual's entire life. It's just a taste of the best bits. It's all too easy to forget that! (If you get where I'm coming from, you might also find this post super helpful.)

I've put these powerful tips together to help you do social media your way and stay happy in the process.

1. Use social media in a different way
Maybe you just passively scroll, absorbing whatever comes your way without much thought. If so, it's time to be conscious of the fact that you can shape your social media experience much more than you think! Here are some ideas:

- Have a clear out! Get rid of the stuff that doesn't flick your switch anymore and unfriend the peeps you haven't even spoken to in years or whose statuses just bring you down. There's an underlying implication that we need to have as many 'friends' as possible on our platforms, but that ain't so. Keep things intimate for a more positive experience.

- Worried about unfriending or unsubscribing from someone in case you offend them? Facebook and Youtube are among the social media platforms which allow you to 'hide' posts from those you don't want to engage with but still want to stay connected to. On Facebook the option is called 'unfollow' and you can find it by right-clicking the side of someone's status update on your feed. (You're welcome.)

- Use the search function to check out hashtags which relate to your passions and interests. Get a sense of what you're going to look up and check out before going online. What's your 'game plan'? What are you going on social media to find out? Who do you plan to check in with?

- Challenge yourself not to go online when you usually do. What's your key scrolling time? Before you get out of bed in the morning? During your commute? Before you go to sleep at night? Try going five whole days without scrolling during those key scrolling times. Instead, use the time to connect with your thoughts and emotions, practice mindfulness etcetera.

- Use your Facebook preferences to ensure that you are getting notifications from the pages you love. Underneath the page's cover photo you'll see three dots. Click them to find the option which guarantees that you will always receive notifications from that page.

- In the column to the left of your Facebook feed you will notice a tab that says 'news feed'. The default setting is 'top stories' which means that you're only seeing the most popular posts. Switch to 'most recent' to change things up a bit - you are likely to get posts from friends, organisations and businesses that you don't usually see in your feed.

- Check in with your feelings every five minutes whilst you're on social media. Get into the habit of being connected to your emotions. Ask yourself if the experience you're having is inspiring you and making you feel good. If not, ask yourself why the hell you're still scrolling! No one's holding a gun to your head and demanding that you spend time on Facebook, pickle! You're a free agent!

2. Have regular breaks from social media 
If you can't commit to just one day away from social media then it's likely that your relationship with it is unhealthy! Challenge yourself to take a day off. Afterwards, write about the experience and what you learned from it. If you feel that it was beneficial, make sure that you schedule monthly or weekly 'no social media' days and stick to them. (Hey, biz owners, I'm looking at you: Don't you dare tell yourself that one day off is out of the question! Your empire will not crumble if you don't update Twitter for 24 hours!)

3. Take ownership of your feelings and cut the judgement
If the endless photos of someone's immaculate house on Instagram are causing you to feel bad about your own living environment, it's what you do with those feelings that counts, right? Resorting to catty remarks about what they choose to share or who the hell they think they are isn't getting you any further in life. It's actually holding you up. Avoid making rash decisions about other people based only on whatever they're publicly sharing. In particular, don't tell yourself that someone with an apparently lofty life is obviously problem-free and joyful at all times of the day and night. Everyone has their own stuff going on. Remember - don't compare your nitty-gritty to someone else's 'best bits'.

4. Ask yourself what you are presenting on social media
How do you use your social media platforms? What are you sharing with the world? Try to place the emphasis back onto how you are utilising these incredible tools. Do you feel good about what you're doing with your platforms? Are you just posting things that you hope others will approve of? Do you avoid using social media in an authentic and conscious way? Whereabouts can you make a positive change to the way you operate online?

5. Put a permanent ban on the negative uses of social media
This requires honesty and tough love. If you're using Facebook and Twitter to stalk your ex-partner's new love interest, stop. If you always follow the posts of someone towards whom you feel competitive and combative, stop. If you know that you use Instagram as a way to make yourself feel bad about your body.. yeah, stop. Make a list of the websites and social media accounts that you want to stop visiting and list your reasons.

I hope that these tips have been helpful, dollface! Let's take back social media this month. It doesn't have to be a vortex of self-loathing!



Wanna keep reading? Check out these archive treats: 

Death to Passive Aggression
From the Heart Outwards
The Strength in Your Love Match