How To Cultivate A Feel-Good Social Media Feed
Leading a healthy life is about so much more than your workout schedule, sleep quality or nutrition. It can also be about the way you speak to yourself, the company you keep, and your relationship with social media.
Although social media often gets a bad rap and concerns have been raised around its effect on everything from our sleep quality to mental wellbeing, ability to focus and self-esteem, there are always two sides to every coin. Harvard School of Public Health has even highlighted the positive effects social media can have, finding usage can be beneficial for mental health and wellbeing.
Using a nationally representative sample, researchers assessed the association between how much social media is used and how emotionally connected users are to platforms with three health-related outcomes - social wellbeing, positive mental health, and self-rated health.
They found routine, regular social media isn’t necessarily a problem and can be positively associated with all three health outcomes. The negative impact arises when your emotional connection to social media is dominated by a fear of missing out, feeling disappointed or socially disconnected. These findings suggest a healthy relationship with social media is less about the frequency or duration of time spent online and more about how you approach your usage.
The latest data has found average daily social media use worldwide amounts to 147 minutes per day - that’s almost two and a half hours! No matter how much of your precious time the online world is taking up, it’s definitely worth thinking about the ways it might be affecting your wellbeing and how you could turn every minute currently spent looking at your feed into a force for good in your life.
If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to work on creating a healthy relationship with social media, and we’ve got plenty of tips and tricks to help you do exactly that.
Reflect on your relationship
When it comes to creating a more positive relationship with social media, a great place to start is taking stock of your current habits, experience and feelings. Be honest and consider asking yourself questions like:
- How much time do I spend on social media each day or week? (We all know how much of a rude awakening it can be to check your screen-time data!)
- When do I tend to use it? For example, when you wake up or are going to bed, during mealtimes, whenever you’re bored, on your work break, during your commute, or perhaps you unintentionally end up on social media anytime you open your phone!
- What are my main reasons for using social media? Remember, this might differ depending on what platforms you use!
- After being on social media, how do I usually feel?
- What aspects of my social media feed do I think are valuable or affect me in a positive way, and which aspects offer no value or affect me in a negative way?
- In what ways does social media boost or harm my wellbeing? Does it enhance or hinder the relationship I have with myself?
Do I have self-care habits in place to look after my mental and emotional wellbeing?
Set your intentions
Once you’ve got a clear and honest picture of your current relationship with social media, it’s time to look ahead and create a vision for habits to nourish your mind and wellbeing.
Consider how much time you want to spend online, how you want it to make you feel, what sort of value you’d like it to add to your life, what types of content would be most meaningful and positive for you, and what sort of impact YOU want to have on others if you are actively sharing content.
Cultivate a feel-good feed
Crafting a mood-boosting social media feed will look different for everyone, but a great place to start is by unfollowing any accounts that dampen your mood, make you feel bad or simply don’t add any value to your experience.
If there are people whose content you don’t want to see but hitting the unfollow button feels harsh or awkward, make the most of the mute feature to remove their posts or stories from your feed.
Take a look at any brands or influencers you follow and consider the values, beliefs, products and ideas they promote, and if they align with the kind of person you want to be.
Depending on who you are and how you want to use social media, your perfect feel-good feed might leave you feeling inspired, informed, connected, empowered, entertained or a mixture of all five. Each time you go to hit the follow button, ask yourself what value it will add. Be intentional and put your happiness first!
Expand your worldview
Aside from making thoughtful choices about who to follow and unfollow, another great idea if you’re a regular social media user is to follow a broad range of people to expose yourself to different ideas and viewpoints.
A 2021 study found that social media can contribute to the formation of echo chambers by limiting a user’s exposure to diverse opinions and reinforcing a shared narrative, making seeking out a range of creators and opinions more important than ever!
Whether you’re into fitness, fashion, food or French Bulldogs, this doesn’t mean filling your feed with a bunch of content you have no interest in, but making an effort to increase the diversity of your feed. Taking health and fitness as an example, you could follow experts and inspiring people from a range of different countries and ethnic backgrounds, body types, ability levels, viewpoints and training styles.
Get real and ditch comparison
Something that can easily get in the way of a positive social media experience is comparison. It really is the thief of joy! Remind yourself that it’s a highlight reel or a tiny curated snapshot, and everyone lives complex lives with highs and lows you may never catch a glimpse of.
For Head Trainer Kayla Itsines, she tries to avoid falling into the trap of comparison by focusing her time and energy on what is most important, like her children and family.
If comparing yourself online is a habit you easily fall into, consider making an effort to follow more people who post about their bad or boring days and personal imperfections. Sweat Trainer Britany Williams is one of our absolute faves to follow for a dose of authentic real-talk and hilarity.
Speaking of habits, another way to put your wellbeing first is to set limits that put you back in the driver’s seat. This is all about making sure you control your phone, not the other way around. This could include:
- Setting daily time limits on apps or only checking them at a specific time of day
- Turning off your notifications
- Hiding like counts
- Avoiding social media in the first and last hour of your day
- Having regular tech-free time
- If your mood is easily affected by social media, check-in with yourself before opening an app and be intentional about when and how you use that platform
Be the change
Making social media a force for good in your life is as much about the content you’re creating as the content you’re consuming. If you don’t share much, that’s cool! But if you’re a regular poster, it’s worth thinking about what you’re sharing, whether it’s authentic and the impact it could have on those following you.
Reclaiming your health and wellbeing can start with how you move, eat, sleep, think, or even how you spend your time online. Could this be the year you hit refresh on your social media habits?
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.