Most people these days are guilty of overindulging on social media. From Facebook and Instagram to Snapchat and Twitter, social media allows you to share your best self with the world. Whether by phone, laptop, or tablet, you have access to these platforms nearly 24/7 which means you have nearly unlimited access to updates from friends, family, and acquaintances. You know what restaurant the neighbor across the street ate at last night and you can see your coworker’s vacation pictures from a stunning tropical location. Add in announcements of job promotions, births, weddings and quizzes to learn something about your personality and it quickly becomes an overload of information. In fact, it’s way too easy to spend your time scrolling through your feed, seeing what your peers are up to.
Social media is a wonderful way to stay connected with friends in ways you’ve never been able to before. However, is it possible that overusing social media can have harmful consequences? More importantly, can social media be sabotaging your health goals?
I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of BOGO, but have you heard of FOMO?
FOMO – the fear of missing out. At some point, we all experience this fear. Personally, I think of the scene in the movie “As Good as It Gets” when Jack Nicholson’s character asks “What if this is as good as it gets?” While we all occasionally experience this in our day-to-day lives, Facebook only further feeds into your fear of being left out of the loop. Your need to stay connected is one of the reasons social media is so pervasive in the first place. You want to know what your peers are up to. An incredibly common phenomenon, FOMO can leave you feeling inferior to your peers and dissatisfied with your own life. FOMO means you are spending more time than you realize scrolling through your Facebook feed instead of making the effort to enjoy and improve your life.
This leads me into the next reason why social media is more harmful than most people realize:
Social media gives you a glimpse into the lives of your peers – the restaurants they eat at, the clothes they wear and the outings they take. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of comparing your life to the image people present online. However, it’s important to remember that most people present their best selves on social media. It’s easy to post the good things and edit out the bad.
So the next time you find yourself envying a Facebook friend’s life, here’s a good tip: take a step back from the screen, take a deep breath, and write yourself a quick list of things you’re thankful for. There’s probably more things on that list than you realize.
Let’s face it, spending too much time staring at a screen is just plain bad for your health – from eye strain to bad posture to simply encouraging a sedentary lifestyle. Of course, like anything, moderation is key so if you can’t go cold turkey with social media, try the following tips to help you limit your social media browsing time.
- Set a timer. I do this. It’s easy to get lost in time when sitting at a computer surfing the web, working or browsing your social media accounts. Give your eyes and butt a break every 50-55 minutes. Get up to stretch, go for a walk, tidy something up or talk to a real person for a few minutes.
- Exercise. I’m building on the above. People often tell me they don’t have time for activity yet they spend hours staring at a screen. Shift your priorities. Trade in 30 minutes of social media time for some physical activity. Go walk the dog. Do a HIIT workout. Ride your bike. Go for a swim. Do some gardening. Staying active is a great way to keep your mind off what others are posting. Being outdoors is great for mental health. I know a brisk walk is always a great way for me to brush out the cobwebs from my mind.
- Clean. Yes, this may be the furthest thing from your mind. It may be a task you dread but research has shown it’s good for mental health. Decluttering can do wonders in more ways than one. Instead of browsing, turn on some music and get cleaning. The sense of accomplishment after finishing is similar to the feeling you get upon completing a workout.
- Call up a friend. Speaking to a friend over the phone or, even better, face to face is a far better way of staying in touch instead of merely “liking” each other’s statuses every now and again.
Finally, if you are having a bad day and are trying to decide whether to take a few minutes of your time to scroll through your feed or doing something physical – I say MOVE! The feel good endorphins experienced from moving are way better for you than time spent looking at the highlights reels of your friends’ and acquaintances’ lives.
Please permit a slight rant. Sometimes we make things harder than we need to some days. Sometimes food is just food, just going for a walk vs. 3 Crossfit/HIIT workouts in a day and not having a chiseled upper body and a big booty IS enough.
You CAN be a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously. Don’t let the images others post bully you into feeling less of a person. You ARE enough.