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Mental Health

How to Balance Your Social Media Intake While Social Distancing

Just a few weeks ago, work-life balance was no biggie. You knew when your lunch break was, how many minutes you could spend on Instagram between classes, and the exact amount of time you had to watch TikToks before bed. But now, because of a global pandemic and lots of extra time spent inside, all your routine habits are different. For people working from a futon, what's the best way to juggle the responsibilities of WFH with fun activities for pleasure? And how do you do it without refreshing your feed every ten minutes, when social media is the most convenient form of entertainment? 

While it can be tempting to be attached completely to your phone during this turbulent time, remember you can maintain a healthy relationship with social media while practicing responsible social distancing. Here are three ways to set (and keep!) responsible boundaries with social media during self-quarantine—because there's only so much news to read and live streams to watch before your brain breaks.

Set windows of time to be away from your phone

Keeping a solidified routine helps productivity, and it can also keep your hands from straying toward your phone. If you're not upholding a consistent schedule, it can be easy to procrastinate on school and work-related tasks, or even fall behind on your commitments. This is why it's a good idea to set specific windows of time to be away from your phone.

The good news is that you get to decide what your new inside-all-day schedule looks like. Whether that means using an app to limit screen time, or setting reminders for 30-minute social media breaks, it’s your call. I personally like to sit out on my outside porch and listen to Apple Podcasts until I begin until my 7:30 a.m. work hours start, and then I set a reminder to put my phone away.

Use social media for productive connections

It’s necessary to manage when and how you’re using social media, because oftentimes mindless scrolling isn't doing anything fruitful for you. Instead, try joining an active Facebook group for one of your interests, updating your LinkedIn profile for potential employers, or even playing online games with friends you’re separated from.

My personal favorites apps right now are Duolingo and Tandem which both help me practice my Spanish—but they also keep me socially connected so that social distancing doesn’t make me lonely. Basically, skip the superfluous scrolling and opt for more genuine experiences when you can. 

Be strict with your boundaries

There's a lot of bad in the world happening right now, and spending extra time drinking in news and looking at COVID-19 alerts on Twitter aren't always going to support positive wellbeing. Besides just setting social media boundaries so you can stay focused, set boundaries to preserve your mental health too. Turn your phone off when you're feeling bad, and let yourself skip virtual happy hour if you need to.  

As a self-proclaimed extrovert, being inside can feel inhibiting for my social soul. In time, I'm excited to return to a place of real socializing that doesn’t revolve around likes and RTs. Keep that in mind the next time you get lost in a feed.

Victoria Tralies is a graduate of Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. In college, she studied literature and writing, spending most days reading Austen novels and writing feverishly for her college newspaper. Now, you can find her cradling a caffeine addiction and listening to NPR. In her spare time, Victoria is desperately trying to finish her TBR, understand why Jelena broke up, and offer unsolicited commentary on The Bachelor.
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