Social media and news can help you stay connected. But all that information can also be overwhelming. It can disrupt your day. And it's easy to develop habits you didn't mean to.
Here are some tips for using social media and news in a healthy way.
- Know your goal.
Maybe you want to use social media to stay up-to-date on events in your community. If so, use it only for that. Log off when you have the info you need. If you're trying to stay caught up on the day's events, do you need to keep an eye on the headlines all day? Maybe a check-in once a day is enough.
- Think about how the news or scrolling through your feeds makes you feel.
Does seeing what friends are sharing make you happy? Or does it make you feel down? When you know how news and social media affect you, you can decide if you need to make some changes to how you use it.
- Don't compare your everyday life to someone else's online life.
People usually post about the shiny parts of their lives. It's less common to see people sharing daily struggles or disappointments. You're more likely to see pictures of a couple's romantic date, for example, than pictures of the argument they had in the car on the way there. So even if what you're seeing is a true story, remember that it's never the whole story.
- Use tools to help you control what you see and when you see it.
- Turn off news alerts on your phone. That way you can find information you want when you're ready for it, instead of letting it find you.
- Sign up for "news roundup" emails. They include only the top headlines, or summarize the day's events.
- Unfollow or hide feeds that stress you out. And don't feel bad about doing it. You can still be informed without absorbing all the info that comes your way.
- Track the time you spend using social media or reading news. You can do it with an app or manually. If you don't like how those minutes add up, think about how you'd rather use that time. Sometimes it can help to put it into words. For example, "Spend an hour on Facebook, or spend an hour playing basketball with my daughter?" or "Spend an hour reading the news, or spend an hour learning guitar chords?"
- Follow the feel-good stuff.
The news can be heavy. Try to find balance by focusing on things that make you feel happy.
- Try following social media accounts that are focused on your interests or on things that make you laugh. For example, did you know you can follow accounts that only post videos of baby animals being adorable? If that's not your thing, no problem. Search for something that is, and see what comes up. Love strange houseplants? There's a group for that. Want tips for fixing older-model Hondas yourself? You're not alone.
- Check out "good news" mailers. These are free emails you can get daily or weekly that link to news from around the world that might make you smile or boost your mood. Most major news sources offer them or something similar.
- Set a time to step away.
Reserve time to disconnect. Close your apps and turn off the TV. Read a book, get outside, work on a puzzle, call a friend. It doesn't matter what you choose to do. Just make sure it's something that feels supportive and worth your time.