General Wellness

Taming your social media addiction

If you have tan lines on your chest from your smartphone, you just might be addicted.

From texts to social media to the latest app, we are spending more times on our phones and less making eye contact. In fact, we are officially spending nearly five-and-a-half years of our lives on social media at the toll of two hours per day, according to MediaKix. Likewise, a full 210 million people have a bad case of internet addiction, according to Science Daily, and that figure is only growing.

If you find yourself checking Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or your other favorite social site relentlessly, you might want to press the “pause” button. Taking a break from social media can reduce unnecessary comparisons (“she always goes on more amazing vacations than I do” or “their kids are so perfect,” for example), reduce eye and neck strain, and remind you of what really matters.

First, spend one day or one week tracking your social media usage – every minute of it – to determine if you are spending two of your waking hours liking, scrolling and tapping. Then, you can tap into the following tips for taming your social media addiction this summer:

  • Set a timer. If you intend to log on for five minutes and find yourself browsing outfits on Pinterest or videos on YouTube an hour later, a timer can help. Give yourself five or 10 minutes once or twice a day to cull the need to constantly check. Be ruthless in setting the phone or laptop down when the timer dings.
  • Make mealtimes a true time out. It can be tempting to have the phone nearby “just in case,” but it can quickly turn into a table of kids and adults staring into cell phones rather than talking with each other. Set the phones aside; even better, turn them off. Likewise, if you are visiting with a friend or out to lunch, do your best to leave your phone, social media accounts and apps in your purse so you can focus more on conversation and connection.
  • Enjoy “socialfree” Saturday (or another day of the week). What would your life be like without social media? If you can’t recall the last day you didn’t check one site or another, then start with one day off. See how it feels and what else you have time for, then consider making it a weekly date.
  • Reduce notifications. When your phone buzzes, it is so hard to resist. Turn off notifications for everything but the essentials to limit distractions. You can also use apps (such as ColdTurkey, Offtime, AppDetox and more) that limit the time you spend on various sites or block them all together – some offer reports that illustrate how much time you spend on social media.

Of course, it goes without saying that you should never use social media or mobile devices while driving.

Summer should be about fun – friends, family, adventure, sunshine – and it is the perfect time to indulge in an ice cream cone, a long walk or a new book. When you reduce the time you spend on social media, you open up your world to new things, experiences and people.

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