Rather scarily, the average person is said to spend a little under two hours on social media every single day; even more scarily is this is only about a third of our total online time, which is estimated as over six hours daily. That’s a lot of scrolling, liking, commenting, retweeting, snapping and sharing. As someone that works in the digital field and has done for over seven years, I probably spend a good chunk more than most attached to my laptop or phone to some degree – no matter how much I try to resist the urge to pick up my phone and absentmindedly have a scroll. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder that our time spent online is having a serious impact on our overall wellbeing; a day doesn’t go by without me seeing some comment, blog post or conversation about how the digital world is taking its toll and having a negative effect on our mental health. With so much content available at the click of a button, and so many curated images and feeds of perfection to compare ourselves too, it’s not surprising that collectively we’re starting to feel a little low and confused as to how to get ourselves out of this negative spiral.
Although the online world is amazing in so many respects, it also causes numerous problems if we spend too much time immersed in a digital space that drains us emotionally. I’ve made a concerted effort in the last few months to take a step back and reassess my relationship with the internet and social media sites in particular, and I have to say I feel a lot less anxious and prone to rants! There are a few simple things you can do which I guarantee will make both your online and offline world a better place.
TAKE TIME OUT
I can’t recommend this enough; spending every spare moment looking at other people’s holidays, handbags and hot husbands will do nothing for our own self esteem. When we’re so immersed in our social feeds its easy to get caught up in it all and forget what’s going on in the real world – where having the latest pair of tassel earrings or a Pumpkin Spiced Latte to instagram before anyone else really isn’t that important at all. Making a conscious effort to have time away from social media and your feeds (whether in the evenings, at the weekends or a designated 48hr blackout) can have a really positive effect, providing enough distance to gain perspective and allowing you to enjoy your feeds once again. Personally I try to not be as ‘present’ on social media over the weekends, preferring to actually enjoy my spare time with loved ones rather than worrying about getting a great Insta-image; that’s work for me and needs to remain within the working week or I’d drive myself insane.
RECONNECT WITH REALITY
This goes hand in hand with taking time out, but stepping away from the digital world and immersing yourself completely in the real world can be so refreshing and great for the soul. Rather than spending your spare moments looking up Twitter drama or scrolling back to see that blogger’s outfit from Summer 2015, reconnect with your loved ones over coffee or go for a stroll in the park. Visit a local landmark or get a train into London for the day; book tickets for a gig or show, or arrange a dinner at somewhere you’ve been drying to try out. It will remind you that there’s a big wide world out there beyond your digital devices. (And make sure you keep your phone in your bag!)
MUTE & UNFOLLOW
Undoubtedly the buzz words within the blogging community right now, the mute and unfollow buttons are your best friends. If your feed fills you with dread, anxiety and frustration, simply unfollow those accounts or users that are at the root cause – 99% of people across your feeds are nothing more than a casual online acquaintance rather than a real life friend, so if they’re not bringing anything positive to your life it’s time to say goodbye. Don’t want to offend anyone? The mute button is the best thing ever, because they’ll never know. I’m a firm believer in feeling no obligation to anyone online whatsoever (they’re my feeds and I’ll curate them how I want to!) and if it’s impacting your wellbeing, maybe it’s time to say bye bye to the worst offenders.
DON’T FOCUS ON PERFECTION
One of the best pieces of advice I could ever give anyone suffering with their online wellbeing is to remember that these social media platforms are a curated presentation of a life – not an accurate representation of reality. It’s easy to get caught up in the fact your favourite bloggers or instagrammers have a picture perfect life (including the house, handbag collection, other half and pet dog to boot,) but they’re not sharing those rubbish days when the flats a mess, they haven’t washed their hair in four days and they’re still in their coffee-spilled PJs. In a similar fashion, it’s important to not continually strive for perfection in everything you post. Worrying about the right lighting, the fact your hair isn’t looking fresh-from-the-hairdressers or that the background doesn’t quite match your feed will cause you anxiety – but I guarantee your friends, followers or fans won’t even really notice. So many conversations I have with fellow bloggers involve them continually striving for the perfect photo and wasting so much time attempting to create it, when in actual fact their ‘rubbish’ attempt still looks pretty cracking to me. Take a step back and stop worrying about everything having to be absolutely perfect; perfection is a full time job, quite literally. Aint nobody got time for that.
REFRAIN FROM COMPARISON
Possibly the hardest thing in the world, but so important if you want to feel positive and energetic about your own journey and achievements. It’s human nature to occasionally get the green eyed monster or feel like you’re not doing ‘as well’ as your colleagues or counterparts, but it’s oh so counterproductive. The downside of digital media is that everything is publicly visible and you can see every time you didn’t get an invitation, press sample or opportunity – in a similar way to seeing every new purchase, cocktail and ‘Best.Night.Ever’ that you weren’t part of. However, it’s important to understand what is important to you as an individual and focus on your successes, achievements and positive moments; I guarantee you that they provide a reason to be proud, grateful and happy, and than a new handbag or Monday Mojitos won’t give you the same fuzzy feeling. Try to write a list once a week of your achievements and the things that have made you happy, and you’ll soon gain a bit of perspective over what’s really important to you.
It really pains me to see so many people feeling low and absorbing the negativity of others, or simply comparing themselves incessantly. Being a positive pony and seeing nothing but rainbows is neither helpful or realistic, but finding a middle ground and a little perspective will really help.
Do you worry about the impact the online world is having on your overall wellbeing? How do you manage the constant comparison and fear of failure that’s now so common?
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