Five Strategies for a Mindful Approach to Social Media
By Renita Kalhorn
As I mentioned in my previous post, What Are You Missing?, there’s no question that social media has created exciting opportunities for us to connect, stay informed and build community.
At the same time, it’s being integrated into our lives so
insidiously seamlessly that most of us haven’t made the effort to come up with strategies for using it in a balanced, conscious way. It’s starting to take a noticeable toll on our productivity and emotional wellbeing.
NOT ALL OR NOTHING
Social media isn’t inherently good or bad: like any tool, it simply depends on how we use it. Here are some practical tips for training yourself to use it in a more mindful—i.e. conscious and aware—way:
2. Resist the “tweet and walk.” In 2012, Pew Research found that 55 percent of adult cell phone users access the Internet on their devices. With the growing prevalence of mobile apps making it easier to access your online accounts from anywhere, it may soon be impossible to make eye contact with anyone while out and about.
The irony of frequently signing on to be sure you don’t miss out on anything is that you’re likely to miss a real-time opportunity right in front of you. As much as possible, limit your social media access to when you’re at a computer.
3. Set boundaries. For better or worse, information is food for your brain. And just as you feel sluggish when you overeat, unfiltered ingestion of social media—due not only to the sheer volume of information but the emotional fallout associated with it—can leave your psyche feeling bruised and overwhelmed.
Here’s a revolutionary idea. Set limits on when and how often you access social media—either certain times of the day or a maximum number of sessions per day—and establish a time limit for each session (set a timer to keep yourself honest). Be realistic however, and set yourself up for success: initially, at least, make your limits approximate to what you’re already doing. This is more about conscious usage than it is about cutting down.
4. Set an intention. Before each session, set a simple “micro-goal.” Whether it’s to find something useful to retweet or share, to make a new connection or to find inspiration, having a clear intention raises your antenna and leads to feeling purposeful rather than aimless and reactive.
5. Check for shallow breathing. Deep inside our brain is an almond-shaped region called the amygdala, and its job is to trigger the fight-or-flight response when it perceives a threat to our survival. The amygdala, however, is not the rational, thinking part of the brain and sets off a lot of false alarms.
In fact, it might very well interpret shallow breathing—something that happens when we feel insulted, angry or upset, i.e. when we’re on social media—as a threat. So check in regularly with your breath and train yourself to inhale deeply with each click.
Although none of these suggestions require dramatic changes in your routine, they do require something a little elusive: your full attention. The pay-off however—a greater sense of control and well-being—is surely worth it.
Renita Kalhorn is a peak performance strategist and founder of Step Up Your Game. A martial arts black belt and Juilliard-trained concert pianist with an MBA, she helps entrepreneurs and executives in high-growth companies achieve extreme productivity and performance under pressure. Renita has delivered leadership and development programs in the U.S. and Asia for Fortune 500 clients such as Deutsche Bank, Pfizer and Time Warner, as well as mental toughness training to executive teams and Navy SEAL candidates. Find out more at: http://www.stepupyourgamenow.com/