Social media has the power to connect us to others around the world, however, it also has disconnected us from real life. It can change the way our brains form new social relationships, maintain current ones and participate in social groups. While the digital world presents us with so many opportunities in terms of staying on top of current events, creating income opportunities, introducing us to knew people, and giving the average person a voice, it also has had its negative effects in terms of human connection.
In a highly connected world but disconnected society, how can we go beyond surface-level conversations, focus on our mental health, and prioritize our real-life relationships? Social media itself is not the problem. It is the way people use it in place of actual communication, in-person socializing, and relationship building. "Friends" on social media may not be friends, and may even be strangers. Social media has also taken a toll on self-image and mental health. It constantly has us playing the comparison game based on someone's highlight reel. We depend on our smartphones for work, school, our personal and social lives. But when was the last time you left home without your phone and kept on going?
This matter has been weighing heavy on my heart of late. Today, I want to explore 4 ways to take active steps to have real in-person engagement so that we can build healthier relationships in our real life and our digital lives.
1. Call a friend and focus on real-time engagement.
You likely do a financial check in every few months. And perhaps you've even experienced the dreaded "tax audit," but when was the last time you did a relationship audit? This means checking with the relationships in your life, whether it's friends, family, or coworkers. Instead of texting or messaging them on social media, give them a call, or better yet, arrange an in-person meeting. Relationships need nurturing, and during times of uncertainty like the ones we're living through now, these relationships are more important than ever.
To take an extra step, let's talk about how we can better check in on our friends and family. You can turn a chat with a friend into a mental health check-in by simply changing the way you start the convo. Swap out the standard, "how are you?" for an open-ended question that gives your friend more room to elaborate on how they're feeling. Try 'Tell me how you're feeling lately," or 'What's been on your mind?"
People are starting to heavily lack in-person communication skills. Speaking to someone face to face allows a person to pick up nonverbal cues - such as smiling, arms crossing, and body positioning - that help people communicate. But because social media lacks this face-to-face contact, research has found that people have adapted to compensate when communicating online.
2. Take a social media detox.
You may find that spending hours on end scrolling through various feeds can leave you feeling anxious, drained, or dissatisfied. That's when a social media detox may be beneficial for you. There's nothing wrong with spending time on social media or enjoying it, but it's important to reflect on your social media habits and evaluate how social media makes you feel and how it impacts your life.
There are a few ways you can take a successful social media detox to help you feel more connected to the real world and take a mental break.
- Delete your apps for a day. Take social media off of your phone for 12 hours and remind yourself that you can easily reinstall it.
- Get an accountability buddy! Detox with a friend and instead spend the day doing something together.
- Take a look at which social media apps you use the most. If you’re an iPhone user, you’re likely already familiar with your device’s built-in feature called Screen Time.
- Spend the day with your friends and family and ask them about your digital behaviors. Ask your loved ones what they’ve noticed about your relationship with your phone. You may discover you’ve unwittingly picked up some bad tendencies, like checking your phone mid-conversation or texting at the dinner table.
3. Get Outside!
Get in nature! Now that spring is around the corner, spend more time outside. Being exposed to sunlight and fresh air does wonders for our mental health and stress. Whether it's a stroll through a city park to a day spent hiking, exposure to nature has been linked to several benefits. Studies show that stress is almost instantly relieved within minutes of exposure to nature as measured by things like muscle tension, blood pressure, and brain activity. Time in green spaces significantly reduces your cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Being in nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, which promotes happiness. It's time to bring those mental health walks back for good!
4. Unfollow accounts that don't inspire you.
Most of us who use social media are aware we can follow or unfollow whoever we want on our accounts. But hitting that unfollow or hide button can be a little more difficult in practice. We sometimes find ourselves following people that don't bring us any benefit, and this can cause more harm than you think. Always follow accounts and creators that bring value to your life. You want to always expose yourself to positivity when you can control it, and on social media for the most part, you are in full control. If you find that an account makes you feel angry, self-conscious, annoyed, offended, jealous, or bitter, the unfollow button is your greatest asset.
Remember, popular apps like Instagram are programmed to keep their users engaged, they want to keep you on the app for as long as possible. The digital world of social media is supposed to bring us together and help us connect, but in many instances what it does is create divide and hurt human connection. Social media could be one of the things pulling us apart, and we need to start actively trying to come together. We urge you to work on connecting with the real world and having those difficult conversations that ultimately lead to growth.
Here at Wilkes Mortgage Group, we strive to connect with our customers and build relationships that last. We understand that when purchasing a home or refinancing, for most Americans it is the biggest investment they will ever make, and should be treated as such. We strive to open up the doors to have a lifelong relationship with you and your family. We come up with a plan that not only suits you now but for the next 10 years down the road. Your success is our success. To get started on your journey to homeownership, connect with us at https://wilkesmortgagegroup.com/