How to Stop Falling into the Social Media Habit

I had a problem and yet I knew that I was not the only one. I went into Facebook to send a message to someone. Instead of sending the message, I was in the news feed for a good 15 minutes to then log out, realizing that I did not do what I originally intended to do. I was shocked at how easy it is to go unconscious on social media. I logged in again, accomplishing my mission by completing that message and sending it off.

I noticed an increase in social media use after my cat’s death. This distraction was normal and okay for a short amount of time because it helped me cope. It was a good way to numb out the intense feelings of loss and grief. As an empath, I feel a lot and deeply. Perhaps you can begin to see that this type of social media checking is not all bad because it would be too overwhelming to process grief/loss all at once.

There comes a time when you and I need to face the music; meaning we need to sit with the feelings, deal and heal. When is that time? The time is when you or others become aware of what you are doing and are no longer comfortable with it. If you do not notice your over usage, you may hear comments from family or friends. Not only can it cause problems in relationships, the longer you avoid your feelings, the more disconnected you become to your own soul and that of the Divine.

Social Media Boundaries

I am not here to tell you what the proper boundaries are for you concerning social media. I believe that you as much as I already know that answer. Trust your instincts, get off social media and do something else. What I will do is share some definite warning signs to be aware of. Many of these can be applied to abuse and addictions behaviors of all kinds.

  • If you spend more time with your nose in your phone than talking to your significant other or family.
  • If you need to check social media first thing in the morning, all throughout the day and last thing before bed.
  • When your friends’ social media responses or lack thereof starts affecting your mood in negative ways; anger, depression and sadness.

 

The Psychology Behind this Habit or in Some Cases this Addiction

When any habit gets rewarded, it increases the likelihood of you doing it again. Every notification, like, reaction and share reinforces our social media checking behavior. Guess what? When you are stressed you rely more on your habit system as a way to feel in control. It is understandable why during times of high stress; grief, loss, unemployment or illness an increase can be found with social media use. Even positive stress can trigger an increase in usage such as a move to a new home, new job or a book release.

Here is the kicker, the reward does not even have to feel pleasurable in order to repeat it.  This is what happens in all addictions. Clients tell me I don’t even enjoy using yet I can’t stop; why is this happening? When you repeat a behavior, the brain gets rewarded with a release of a chemical called dopamine. This dopamine sends a signal within your brain that says whatever you just did, do it again regardless of whether it has a positive or negative outcome. This creates a compulsion to repeat that behavior.

How do you get out of this behavorial loop? You need to slow your brain down in order to give yourself a chance to pause, think and then respond. Now you have the power to choose what you want to do next. For some it is shutting off notifications, deleting the app from your phone or taking days off from social media. If you continue to have difficulty, there is no shame in seeking professional psychotherapy.

The move from Mindless to Mindful Usage

Sit down and pick a goal for your social media use. Is it for fun, business or connecting with friends? Yes, it can be different each time you log in. Think before you post; what is the purpose of this sharing? Does it fit with my overall goal of social media use?

Notice your mood prior to logging in and stay aware of how it shifts and changes. Do you log in when you feel bored, alone, empty or to calm your nerves? When you feel stressed, aggravated or numb that is the time to log off. If you are using it to boost your self -esteem, remember the real work is within. Social media is a place to express not to impress. If you are trying to feed your ego, it is time to sign off.

When you are in the present moment, you are awake to what you are doing and what is happening. Anytime you notice your distraction, like I did in the opening paragraph, use it as a reminder to get back into your body and connect. After all, that is what we are truly searching for when we go online, an authentic connection. When you don’t find it online, make time to connect in more direct ways through meditation, prayer, phone calls or in person meetings.

More about Lisa Hutchison LMHC works for empaths who want to recharge and refill their depleted energies in order to heal themselves and others. As an intuitive psychotherapist and certified angel car reader she helps her clients find realistic life solutions that work whether it is health concerns, work or relationships. To get her FREE 10 page E- book, 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos Now visit www.lisahutchison.net

 

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38 thoughts on “How to Stop Falling into the Social Media Habit

  1. As much as I hate to admit this, I’m guilty of checking FB way too much and I’ve done exactly what you opened with – logged in to send a message to someone or find something and 15 – 30 minutes later, I’ve completely derailed and forgotten why I logged on in the first place. And like Suzie, I need to set clear social media boundaries and time limits. Now that I don’t watch TV all that much, I’ve filled that time with mindless social media surfing…gah!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all have done it Peggy! I too watched TV mindlessly in the past but have stopped and now find I am mindlessly on social media. Boundaries are helping me decrease this behavior, along with self-love because there is a stress behind our behavior. xx

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  2. Thanks for this post. I have serious addiction issues-internet, gaming, social media. Being aware of the issue is the first step to fixing it. I sure wish it was as easy to get addicted to working out or something really productive and good for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome Sabra. I agree awareness is the first step to healing addictions. Luckily, there are many great professional groups and psychotherapists who can assist in this healing process. It sounds like you have done some great work around these issues. I went to a professional training about habits and we discussed that same thing- Why can’t it be easier to get addicted to healthy habits? 🙂

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  3. I’m finding that this behavior occurs more often for me now that I’m using social media as a tool to build my business. I usually try to make a to-do list before I open my app, and encourage people to e-mail me instead of using Messenger or other social media connection tools. Funny how some things can be so good for us in one way, and so toxic at the same time …

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds great Bryna; having clients contact only through email rather than social messaging. I also noticed when I began using social media for business through collaborative book projects and releases that my usage increased. I find the balance between promotion and connection within a tough one during those times.

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    • It is sad when a habit or addiction influences someone’s behavior. Luckily, there are many professional groups and counselors who can help empower people to reconnect to their hearts and souls so they can live a life that they truly desire.

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  4. Oh my goodness!! This post is BRILLIANT.

    Thank you so much for this insight from a psychological insight!

    Hubby and I started using social media particularly FB as a means to cope with our 9 months separation due to green card process and our huge transition moving from Germany to the States.

    It was our own means of communication. The only way we could know what was going on with the other person. So checking my ipad first thing in the morning ALL throughout the day and last thing when going to bed (and all throughout the night when waking) became a 9 month habit .

    That then continued with my online business. It is absolutely insane!!

    I am so happy to report that I am now setting boundaries. Switching off the ipad at 8.30 pm and not switching it on again until 8.30 am in the morning and consciously only checking at certain points during my day.

    But it is definitely an addiction that needs breaking and healing. So I have good days and not so good days where I fall back into it.

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I am saving it. This is such an important message.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome Nadia! Thank you for sharing your personal experience. It is an interesting paradox that a tool you use to connect can disconnect you overtime. I too have good days and not so good ones, it is all learning and it is what led me to write this blog. Xx

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  5. Hi Lisa – you made so many valid points! I choose to disconnect completely on Saturdays and Sundays, to work in the garden, to paint, or to do something in “the real world.” Unfortunately, the nature of my job keeps me otherwise connected all working hours, because I need to monitor social media mentions, and the like, for clients.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting post, Lisa. (I wrote about addiction this week, too.) I’m pretty good about staying on task when I’m online. I enjoy looking in on friends and, because of my “news addiction,” often find myself days ahead of television news with small but interesting stories.

    We humans seem to be able to use anything to escape from ourselves, don’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I find I have to be flexible with this one. Because I use SM for biz, I have developed some pretty strict strategies that work for me: When I’m writing, or creating content for my biz, I close the Facebook tab and shut down my email application. That’s the only thing that helps me stay on task. And even so, I find myself taking FB and email breaks. It’s a tricky balance.

    Thanks. I’m going to share this with my tribe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are welcome Sue! It is a tricky balance and I find myself in the same boat as you. When I am in creation mode, I enjoy my social media breaks. With boundaries, I make sure my breaks do not become long stay vacations.

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  8. Lisa, is there are place where I can go run and save face 😉 I’m so guilty of this! But like you, I KNOW I’m In it…and need to take actionable steps to reduce that habit of getting sucked in to the newsfeed.
    Your suggestions are timely…as all this getting sucked into the newsfeed ain’t helping me write my book eh !!??
    Lots of love,
    Z~

    Liked by 1 person

  9. While I agree with this in theory, life is often more complicated than that..Social media can be a godsend when one is not in residing in a place where they fit in or dont feel supported by the locals when they do interface with others..Ive felt disappointed by doing that and it reinforces my treasured contacts on social media, many of whom live in the place I hope to be soon..As long as one has goals they are working on that are in the place with like minded supports, I dont see anything wrong with using social media moderately as nurturing links to where you want to be..Going out and interacting with people and turning off social media can offer disappointments as well when the people in your area aren’t on the same psychological , creative, spiritual and emotional paths you are…So thats not necessarily a cure all for everyone…..Its a balance between meetings those needs and feeling the dissapointment in others when you do interface with them and find that wanting…The balance between not making social media an addiction and the need for social outlets and networking online when your local ones aren’t working needs to be evaluated regularly…As a retired therapist, Ive tried to help others find a healthy balance with that and not just push turning off social media when their evolvement and creativity and development may depend on that..Every person and every situation is different…

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    • I agree life is much more complicated than one blog post theory! 🙂 I wrote this to get people thinking and to start a discussion. Yes, Stephanie, each person is different and it is all about achieving balance through awareness of what we are doing and why through mindful usage rather than mindless usage.

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  10. nice post… 🙂 just wanted to know if one posts something on social media just to show ones creativity to the friends, family and world for that matter then will we call it feeding our empty egos? i asked this because i am a bit confused on these things or yoy can say its a dilemma…because if i post what i have painted so is it a show off or i should continue with it considering I just want a validity to my work so i will post it…confused..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Harshita! It is great that you share your creativity with others. To clarify your question check in with yourself prior to posting, ask what am I feeling? If you are feeling good about your work and want to share, great! If you are looking for love and constantly checking for likes, comments and shares the ego may be at play. Remember, a part of the habitual nature of checking social media can also be bio-chemical. With each reinforcement of likes, shares and comments it boosts the dopamine levels in the brain, keeps you hooked and looking for more. Hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

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