How To Have A Positive Relationship With Social Media

01 Mar 2019

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.

The love part is obvious – especially since it’s my job. Every day I see its power to connect communities, grow businesses, build friendships and share dreams across geographical boundaries. Plus, on a personal level, it can be entertaining, inspiring and downright hilarious.

But it also has a dark side, one many of us know all too well. If you’ve never experienced the compulsion of mindless scrolling, the not-good-enough-ness, the envy or the simple waste of time, you’re a rare creature and I applaud you.

For the rest of us, social media can become a problem, particularly when we begin comparing our reality to everyone else’s highlight reel. It can make us feel like we’re not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, flawless enough, fabulous enough, present enough, successful enough. It can, and often does, make me feel like I’m simply not enough.

But there’s lots we can do to change this. We hold the power.

As someone who spends a large part of my work day on social media, I've got a few tricks to make my social feeds work with me, rather than against me. I hope they can help you - or your daughter, sister or friends - show social media who is boss. 

1. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about yourself

Repeat after me: Accounts that make you feel bad about yourself do not belong in your life. 

That doesn’t mean the accounts are bad, it just means they’re not for you. Take ownership of your feed. For example: I enjoy staring at photos of Gigi Hadid. She’s beautiful to look at. But it’s bad for my body image. Both me and Gigi are perfect the way we are, but following her makes me feel inadequate, so I don’t do it.

For you, it might be people having babies, annoyingly romantic couple shots or #fitspo. Whatever it is, if it makes you feel even slightly bad about your relationship, friends, body, face or life… unfollow. It’s not inspiring, it’s sabotaging your happiness. 

2. Unfollow accounts that make you feel bad about others

If you’re following a celebrity or personality who you fundamentally disagree with, because doing so gets you fired up, unfollow. If you’re following someone so you can constantly bitch about them to your friends (“OMG did you see what blah blah posted last night!”), unfollow.

The reason we love to hate is because your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline in reaction to conflict – even perceived conflict such as this. For many people this can be energising – it makes you excited! But long term, this can be toxic to the body. These types of accounts aren’t adding anything except cortisol and outrage to your day, and while it might make you feel fleetingly alive, it won’t make you any happier.

3. Follow accounts that inspire you

Think about what inspires you, makes you feel motivated, energised and great about yourself and your future. Then find accounts that make you feel that way.

For me, it’s accounts that have a great aesthetic, but aren’t TOO perfect that they feel insincere. I want to feel seen, related to, heard. I want to feel optimistic.

Having had an eating disorder, I follow accounts that support me to have a positive relationship to my body and food, but it may be different for you. You might follow accounts that motivate you to move more, go outside, get enough sleep, meditate, cook awesome food, read more books, participate in activities, smile more, think positively, call your friends or be present.

4. Stop posting so much

You know that feeling when you post and hardly anyone likes it? Feels pretty crap, huh?

If that’s you, stop posting so much. Text the people who want to see your date night, your breakfast or your kid's first day at school. And save the posting for the big stuff, such as overseas adventures, special events or (audacious plug alert!) your Coastrek fundraising.

4. Post more in Facebook groups

This is where I contradict myself above. Post more in groups. Groups are amazing community hubs which are less like Facebook and more like a forum for like-minded people.

Here, your posts will be seen by people who want to see them (the Facebook algorithm makes sure of it), so you can get tips from new friends, share your photos, create topics for discussion and generally have a great time… without the tumbleweed anxiety you get after you hit post.

Side note: We have a group for Wild Women, and if you’re not in it, you’re seriously missing out.

5. Spend less time on social and more outside

I recommend having one minute an hour, one hour a day and one day a week completely free from technology. It’s simple, but powerful.

Schedule in social media time (maybe 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening) so you’re staying up to date but not constantly checking or mindlessly scrolling. This is also easier if you’re not posting much, because you don’t need to check how your post is doing and respond to comments. 

Remember, too: the less time you spend on social, the less time you want/need to spend on social. Bring your life offline and ensure that social media is serving you, not the other way around.