4 Ways Main Liners Can Take the Edge off Social Media Malaise

Excessive social media use can impact mental health, sleep patterns and ability to regulate emotions. Here are four ways to take the edge off.

As if our daily lives weren’t emotionally charged enough, social media has added another dimension of angst. By design, platforms like Instagram, Facebook and X encourage prolonged, repetitive use, leading to compulsive behaviors that inhibit real-life social interaction.

Constant exposure to curated, idealized versions of other people’s lives fuels FOMO (fear of missing out), inadequacy, envy and low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. It can leave you in a social media malaise. Several research studies have shown that excessive use also disrupts healthy sleep patterns, negatively impacting our ability to regulate our emotions.

Dialectical behavioral therapy can help you manage intense emotions, self-destructive behavior and thoughts. It has four main components: mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. A key goal of DBT is to help you develop a balance between acceptance and change. The next time you feel yourself going down the malaise of a social media rabbit hole, arm yourself with these four basic DBT skills.

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  1. Take a nonjudgmental approach. Focus on the facts without coloring them with personal opinions. Remember that good and bad judgments are relative. That friend posting all those selfies may be lonely or suffering from low self-esteem.
  2. Make mindfulness a daily priority. Turn away from your screen and focus on your senses—what you see, hear, smell, touch and taste. Set time aside each day to be quiet and truly experience that quiet. Be mindful of the stillness, noticing comfort in the moments of quiet. Rather than reaching for your phone, pause, observe and describe 10 details you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.
  3. Set limits. Schedule social media check-ins for a specific time of day and limit them to 20-30 minutes. Put the phone away an hour before bedtime—and make ample use of settings like mute and do not disturb.
  1. Make time in your day for self-soothing. Listen to music, spend time with a pet, watch a movie or read. All will help you bring your focus back to the here and now.

Related: 3 Easy Ways for Main Liners to Build Healthy Relationships

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