The Rules Of Keeping Your Sanity On Social Media

Because Facebook is literally driving us crazy.

If you’re feeling more stressed than usual lately, you’re not alone. The American Psychological Association recently released the results of a survey that showed Americans are more stressed than they’ve ever been in the survey’s 10 year history.

Part of the reason, not surprisingly, is the current political climate (electing a loose-cannon sexual predator with no experience as president will do that to you) – but part of it, researchers say, is because we’re constantly checking our phones. ‘Constant checkers,’ as the survey calls them, are those of us who pull out our phones at traffic lights, while we brush our teeth, and when our date goes to the restroom. And the 43 per cent of respondents who confessed to being constant checkers reported having significantly higher stress levels than those who had more restrained relationships with their phones.

What are we doing on our phones? Mostly, we’re on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat – for many of us, they suck up hours of every day. And it’s not only driving us insane, it’s damaging our real-life relationships: 35 per cent of constant checkers said they spend less time with their loved ones as a direct result of social media.

If you think your social media use is getting out of hand, here are 7 rules that might just save your sanity…

1. Unfriend your exes

Keeping things civil with an ex is one thing, but how friendly do you really need to be? When it’s over, let it really be over. Unfriend and unfollow your ex, his sister, his mother, his best friend – you get the point. If he asks you about it, explain that while there are no hard feelings, you’ve moved on, and you simply don’t feel it’s appropriate to stay connected on social media.

Staying connected leaves you open to the temptation to check his feed now and then, and for old feelings to come back to haunt you, whether it’s anger, sadness, regret, or even nostalgia. When it comes to social media and exes, it’s best to close that door and not look back.

2. Don’t stalk your partner’s exes

Look, we’ve all done it. No matter how happy you are in your relationship and how blissfully everything is going along, there comes a point when you’re curious about the women who came before you – particularly if your man has an ex who’s still in the picture.

You might tell yourself you’re just curious about her, and suddenly you’re down the rabbit hole, scrolling through an album of her cousin’s goddaughter’s christening and caught up in the comments on her Trump-loving uncle’s Facebook page. Needless to say, this isn’t good for your mental health. Next time you get the urge, take a deep breath and step away from the screen.

3. Stop following people you hate

Who hasn’t given in to the siren song of the hate-follow? It feels so good – right up until it doesn’t. That comedian who constantly posts misogynistic shit, the Instagram sanctimother who drives you bananas with her judgmental screeds, your ex-best friend who occasionally still subtweets you; these are people you need to stop following.

The cumulative effect of all that negativity really wears you down over time, and hate-reading their posts becomes such a habit, you may not even be aware that’s what’s making you feel like shit. Unfollow, delete, block, unfriend – stat.

4. Keep track of time

There are various apps you can use to monitor how much time you spend on your phone; if you want to cut down your screen time but aren’t sure where to start, one of these might be helpful. Moment is a popular one; it tracks which apps you use, how often you use them, and allows you to set limits for yourself and makes an alarm go off when your time is up.

Fair warning – finding out how much time you actually spend on your phone can be a pretty shocking wake-up call.

5. Make the bathroom a no-phone zone

I can think of three friends who’ve dropped their phones in the toilet recently, just off the top of my head. It happens all. the. time. And I get it! When you’re at work all day and you’re too busy to even glance at your phone, grabbing it and taking it with you on your bathroom break just seems smart. You might as well scroll your social media feeds while you pee, right? It’s called multitasking.

But when you think about it, it’s really kind of weird and gross. Plus, dropping your phone in the toilet is a huge bummer. So do yourself a service and leave your phone behind next time nature calls.

6. Don’t post angry

One of the most annoying things people do on Facebook is complain about every little thing that pisses them off. They got bad service at a restaurant? They post two livid paragraphs about the decay of the service industry, and what an amazing, hard-working employee they were in the good old days when they worked retail. Someone asked when they were due, when they’ve actually just put on a few pounds? They fire off an angry screed about fat-shaming.

Some people’s feeds are full of nothing but political outrage, personal vendettas, veiled threats, and cryptic complaints. Don’t let yours be one of them. When your blood pressure goes up, put your phone down.

7. Delete your account

When all else fails, you can always quit. Taking a complete social media break for a while – whether it’s a few days or a few months – can be a wonderful thing. But if you’re not ready to completely delete your carefully cultivated accounts and risk losing all your devoted followers, try this: have a trusted friend change your passwords, and keep them secret from you.

You can have this person monitor your accounts for you and let you know if you get an urgent DM, an old tweet goes viral, or something big happens that you otherwise wouldn’t hear about. When you’re ready to come back online, your profiles, friends, and followers will be right there waiting for you.

Images via tumblr.com, giphy.com, hbo.com and reddit.com.

Comment: Do you impose rules for yourself around your social media use?