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Sat, Jan. 25

Flores: Social media cleansing — What it is and why you should do it

You may have heard of a new trend going around. It’s called “Social Media Cleansing”, and it’s the latest in a wave of popular ways to help people detox from their screens and foster engaging, in-the-moment, quality time with their family, friends and themselves.

If you have a “smart phone” many of your devices already track your screen time. You can search online for how to do it with your particular phone, and I encourage you to do so, as your results may surprise you.

With so many of us complaining that we don’t have “time in the day” or “enough hours to workout” or not enough “me time”, it’s interesting to note that almost all of us with smart phones spend an average of two to three hours a day online checking our social media platforms, reading posts, sharing otter videos, arguing with people in “groups” and roaming around popular photo journalism aps, looking at other people’s lives. That averages out to 90 hours a month on the low end! That’s literally the hours of a part-time job in screen time.

We are all guilty of it. We all have the excuses as well – “I use social media for work”, “It’s how I connect with my family abroad”, etc. But as much as social media has opened up the literal world for humanity to connect, share and exchange not only data but build friendships, relationships, further commerce and technology, it also has become a bit of a “time suck” for those of us who aren’t actively furthering humanity with our posts and are just sitting on the couch caught in a social media “scrolling loop.”

Here’s how to gently cleanse from your social media with purpose and re-prioritize your time so you can gain some precious hours back for things in your life you wish you could be doing. Because let’s face it — if you want to write a book, get fit, meditate, feel better about your life, those 15-minute intervals of endless scrolling can be put into doing the little steps that make bigger dreams come true. For a writer, 15 minutes can be half of a new chapter, or to start fleshing out a new character. For a person who wants to get fit, 15 minutes doing yoga and gentle abs work can kick-start a new, healthy exercise habit. For someone with heart issues and high blood pressure, spending 15 minutes consciously breathing and meditating can save their life!

My favorite way to minimize screen time is by defining my online “power” time. I allow myself 20 minutes in the morning with my protein shake to look at my main social media platform. Whether I get all of my friend’s updates in that 20 minutes or not, that’s all I get. Throughout the day I conduct business, answer queries, launch ads, and keep in touch with friends via various messengers, but I keep my “mindless scrolling” to a minimum. When I find myself getting further down the “rabbit hole” I stop. Later that evening, after the kids are in bed and I’m able to relax on the couch with my tea, I allow myself another 20 minutes of reckless scrolling and celebrity gossip updates.

Another small way to minimize the social media trap is to place your social media aps at the back of your phone. That way you’re not tempted to check everyone’s status if you don’t see the icons “front and center” every time you check your phone.

If you limit your online scrolling to 40 minutes a day, you’re actually cutting down the national average of screen time by almost an hour and a half. That’s a lot of time to put back into your projects, your personal development, your relationships, your self-care and maybe finish that book you’ve been talking about!

Britt Flores is a freelance journalist and columnist for The Daily Courier. You can follow her advice on self-care on Twitter @bfloreswrites.

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