At a Glance: Reassess your social media habits: try implementing periods of digital-free time and delete “friends” who are all drama or consistently negative.
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Sure, it’s fun to see what your friends and family members are up to on Twitter and Snapchat. And it seems harmless to check your Instagram feed while you’re waiting for your University of Phoenix learning team to meet. But have you ever thought about how much time all those clicks and finger sweeps consume in your day? Users spend nearly an hour daily on Facebook and its partner apps Messenger and Instagram.

Your social media use can also take a mental toll. Surfing through news feeds can cause feelings of stress and anxiety, and comparing yourself to what your friends are doing (“Wow, the Carvers are on vacation again?”) can bring you down. “It not only can pull you out of your day with the time you waste on social media, but it can also pull you out of your day psychologically,” says clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula.

If you notice yourself on social media more than you’d like, Durvasula offers some simple ways to scale back:

1

Change your routines

Kick the habit of looking at social media first thing in the morning. Seeing what went on last night that you may have missed out on can turn your day south before you even get out of bed. Start with a 15-minute embargo and then go longer and longer before checking. Do the same to curb use at the end of the day before bed.

2

Experiment with digital-free time zones

Try banning social media use during meals or consider a 24-hour break. If you are a parent, it’s especially important to model being unplugged and demonstrate that the world doesn't stop spinning when you are offline.

3

Clean up your social media

Weed out people who are negative. Eliminating the drama and amount of information on your news feed can make it less likely you’ll get sucked in.

4

Remove social media from your portable devices

Only set up access on your desktop at home to limit how often you sign on.

5

Block it

Download free apps, such as SelfControl (for Mac users) or Cold Turkey (currently for PC users only, though a Mac version will be launched soon), to keep you from clicking on Facebook or Twitter when you should be focusing on coursework. Durvasula calls these apps the “Nicorette” for social media.

6

Embrace the alternatives

Instead of habitually looking at your phone when you have down time, carry a magazine or book to read. Or use the time to quiet your mind, meditate, strike up a conversation or just people watch. Be in an authentic space rather than a virtual one. After all, adds Durvasula, “It’s a lot better to stand in front of a tree than look at a photograph of one.”


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