Digital Wellbeing: 6 Exercises for Using Social Media in a Healthy Way

It is advisable to avoid the cell phone during those times when we are likely to spend more time on networks, for example in bed (illustration)

Social networks are an essential part of our lives because they allow us to connect with others based on common interests or values, quickly and without physical boundaries. In addition, they can be a resource Entertainment and information.

“Conscious and careful use of social networks can make us feel positive emotions and can reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. However, when use is negative and/or excessive, it may be accompanied by discomfort and negatively affect the quality of life.” Delfina IlanMember of the Department of Cognitive Psychotherapy at INECO.

To understand and improve the use granted to social networks (RRSS), the INECO specialist has defined a series of steps or links that start with a trigger and lead to the use of the tool:

  1. Internal and external stimuli.
  2. Automatic thoughts and beliefs.
  3. Motivation to use RRSS.
  4. Empowering perception.
  5. Use the RSS feed.

Ms. Ilan then presented a series of exercises related to the above-mentioned model.

Internal motivators are associated with Psychological or emotional states Which may include, for example, feelings of boredom, loneliness, need for validation, stress, restlessness, sadness, or anxiety when faced with a difficult task or decision. In this sense, the use of RRSS becomes a maladaptive means of regulating these uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings. For this reason, it pays to ask How does one feel before using social networks?

External stimuli are elements of each person's environment, such as receiving a message noticeOr seeing others around you using their phones, or being in a place where you usually access social media (such as the bedroom). Other examples of external triggers include being close to your mobile device, reaching for it as soon as you wake up (for example, because you use it as an alarm clock), or seeing icon Social network on home screen.

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One way to identify external triggers for social media use is to ask yourself where you are when you're using social media, with whom, and what's happening around you at that moment.

Another exercise to discover them could be to set a goal, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why enter this social network? The answers are multiple and can be different every time. Some reasons could be: distraction, having fun, learning a skill, chatting with friends, or posting some content.
  • when? It is important to decide what time of day you will use them and for how long. It is recommended to avoid those times when you are likely to spend more time on the Internet, for example before going to bed.
  • till when? Determine how much time you will spend on social networks. Many smartphones have app timers that limit the amount of time you stay on the screen.

Finally, you can also try Close the sessionOr remove the application from the home screen or log in from the computer. These strategies are caused by the fact that the desire to return to the social network involves additional voluntary work.

Automatic thoughts are the perceptions, images, interpretations, and self-instructions that arise in a given situation and influence our emotions and behaviors. Most of the time, we don't have many records about them, but with a little training we can identify them. In the context of social networks, beliefs may emerge such as: “I should check the networks so I don't feel anxious” or “If this photo doesn't get a lot of likes, it means it's not pretty enough.”

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a Practice What can be very helpful regarding this issue is to work on recognizing these issues Automatic thoughts How they present themselves when using social media networks.

At the same time, it is important to remember that social networks show reality in a biased and partial way. Users often select, edit, and finally display their best moments. Keeping this in mind can help you, if you compare yourself to other people, the Discomfort Don't be too extreme. At the same time, realizing that what you see and display on networks is only part of reality, gives you the possibility to choose to reconnect with other things that are valuable to you.

When we talk about impulsiveness, we are referring to the desire or “desire” to use social networks. Pulses can appear as: Physical sensationssuch as increased heart rate or motor restlessness.

In this sense, identifying how an impulse manifests itself in your body is the first step toward being able to control it. Once you identify them, the best solution is to stop the urge to check the social network. Stop, put the phone down, take a deep breath, and ask yourself why you came in. It may be helpful to display this question on your phone's lock screen.

last strategy It is distracting yourself with any activity that helps you shift the focus of your cell phone, such as putting the phone down and leaving the room, talking to someone, listening to music, or doing other activities.

the Empowering perception They are thoughts that enable us or give us “permission” to act on impulse, such as: “I've been working all day, and I deserve a distraction,” or “It'll only be five minutes,” or “I might miss something.” . Along these lines, the exercise is to recognize whether you have any enabling realizations of this kind, in order to work on them.

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Even if you decide to venture into social media, there are strategies you can implement, such as reviewing the accounts you currently follow and analyzing how you feel. Some examples of Emotions What can be tried when using social networks are: Joy, love, envy, shame, sadness, anger and jealousy. Remember that all feelings are valid and convey important information about the situation you are experiencing, which is why it is important to recognize and accept them. After that, if you discover that there are accounts that constantly generate negative and intense feelings in you, you may decide to silence them or stop following them. At the same time, determine if there is other content you might want to start following.

It is important to understand that although you can decide to take a vacation from social networking or deactivate it, the key is… Balance, balance and seek professional help If the discomfort increases, it is very severe and/or persistent.

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