A Minimalist’s Guide to Using Social Media Wisely + Mindfully

Social media … some hate it, some love or if you’re anything like me, it’s a bit of both.

As an introvert who embraces the minimalist lifestyle, there’s part of me that daydreams about deleting all of my accounts and ignoring it altogether.

After all, it can be stressful. There are toxic conversations, unhealthy comparisons, and, of course, it can be a massive waste of time. It’s easy to imagine how much simpler things would be without social media in our lives.

On the other hand, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that there’s a lot to love about it. There’s no doubt that social media helps people stay connected, especially when you have friends and family all over the world. I love being part of this online community.

All of this leaves many people wondering how to use social media wisely and mindfully. Is there a healthy way of using it that empowers community and connection without the excess baggage? Let’s find out.

Whether you love it, hate it or fall somewhere in-between … ultimately, social media is a tool and it’s up to each of us to make an intentional choice about the role it plays in our lives.

Note: This post was originally published in 2016 but has recently been updated.

Should You Let Go Of Social Media?

Let’s take a moment to consider the benefits of social media, beyond staying in touch.

  • Connect with like-minded people who share your unique interests. Sometimes it’s hard to find people in “real life” with the same passions and interests. Social media makes these connections possible.
  • Learn new things and share ideas.  I was actually first introduced to minimalism because of an article I saw on Facebook! One click led to another, and it eventually changed my entire life.
  • Stay up to date with community events, such as concerts or festivals.
  • Research travel ideas, recipes, DIY projects and more.  I love to use Pinterest for travel planning and Facebook for dining recommendations.

For these reasons, I feel that social media adds enough value to my life that I don’t want to let go completely. Instead, I think there’s an alternative to taking a complete digital detox.

Mindful and intentional use.

Because whether you love it, hate it or fall somewhere in-between—ultimately, social media is a tool. Instead of giving it up, we can make an intentional choice about the role it plays in our lives.

How to Consume Social Media Mindfully

Here are some simple tips that will help change the way you scroll.

BE HONEST ABOUT HOW SOCIAL MEDIA MAKES YOU FEEL

Healthy social media habits start with self-awareness. Think about the social media platforms and accounts you visit most and reflect on how they make you feel.

Do certain outlets leave you feeling guilty, angry or inadequate? And do others leave you feeling positive and inspired? 

Consider why this is—sometimes it’s the source of information, but other times our feelings are a reflection of whatever’s going on in our lives right now.

There are no right or wrong answers, but the better you understand yourself and your feelings, the better equipped you are to make wise choices about social media use.

SET YOUR INTENTION BEFORE GOING ONLINE

Before you login, take a few minutes to set your intentions. Are you going online to:

  • Catch up with friends?
  • Make plans for the weekends?
  • Zone out for a bit and watch funny cat videos?
  • Find inspiration?

Yet again, there are no right or wrong answers (we all love funny cat videos once in a while!) but clarifying your purpose before you go online gives you a sense of direction. Instead of mindless scrolling, you can go directly to the accounts or pages you want to see and avoid the ones that don’t serve your intentions.

USE TECHNOLOGY TO FILTER YOUR FEEDS

Once you know your intentions, you can use technology to help you follow through. Here are a few simple tips that will help you use social media wisely.

  • Did you know on Facebook you can customise your newsfeed? You can prioritise who you see first or unfollow people to hide their posts. To do this, navigate to Settings > News Feed preferences while in the app. 
  • Facebook and Instagram have native tools to help you monitor and limit your time. More info here.
  • If you use Twitter, you can use lists to manage who you follow. For example, I have specific lists for networking, other minimalists, travel and more—and this helps me only to see the information that’s most relevant to me. More info here.
  • Also, keep in mind that social media platforms use algorithms to try to figure out what you like based on your behaviour, so don’t engage with any content that you don’t want to see.
Woman walking on the street looking at her phone
Social media isn’t always bad—but there are ways we can use it wisely and mindfully.

SAY GOODBYE TO ANYONE WHO ISN’T ADDING VALUE TO YOUR LIFE

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating—it’s absolutely okay to “declutter” your friends list. If an account, group or page regularly upsets you or makes you feel bad, then it’s OK to walk away.  

On Facebook, you can “unfriend” people, or if you prefer, you can unfollow or snooze their accounts. This way, you get a break from their content without completely disconnecting.

BEWARE THE COMMENT SECTION

While there are exceptions, online comment sections can be toxic—so proceed with caution. 

I can only speculate as to why, but there’s no doubt that social media empowers people to make comments that they wouldn’t say in a face to face conversation. There’s often a complete lack of respect for opposing points of views, and they’re rarely a place for open and honest discussion.

LOG OFF, UNINSTALL OR TRACK

If you know that social media is a problem for you and you want to use it less often consider:

  • Logging off after every session and not saving your password – the extra step of having to log in will often be the “pause” you need to reconsider. 
  • Deleting the apps off your phone – we tend to be more absent-minded with our browsing habits on our phones than on our desktop computers.
  • Tracking your usage – there are many free apps that will track how much time you’re spending on your phone (my phone does this automatically!). Sometimes realising just how much time you’re spending online is the first step in changing your habits.

USE NATURAL BARRIERS TO LIMIT YOUR CONSUMPTION

We all know what it’s like to get lost down the rabbit hole of social media … you hop on your phone just to “check a few things” … and next thing you know, you’ve spent an embarrassingly long time on your phone.

If this happens to you, one tip is to use natural barriers to limit your social media time. 

For example, if you leave home at 3:00 every afternoon to pick up your kids, then plan to check social media at 2:45. You know that you have to go shortly and therefore won’t spend longer than 15 minutes online.

Alternatives to Social Media

Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning that we often use social media as a form of escape. When we’re feeling frustrated or bored, we turn to our phones to buffer our feelings. 

If this happens to you, here are a few alternatives to consider:

  • Instead of ranting or complaining on Facebook, try sharing your feelings in a journal. Here are some tips on how to get started
  • If you catch yourself turning to social media for a “break”, why not practice real self-care instead?  Here are some practical tips
  • Are you looking online for beauty and inspiration? Why not take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life instead? Make a hot cup of coffee, read a few pages of poetry, or get some fresh air.

These are just a few tips and tricks that have helped me become more mindful when going online. Always remember that social media is a tool, and it’s up to each of us to make wise and intentional choices about the role it plays in our lives.

How do you feel about social media? Do you have tips or tricks for using it mindfully? Let me know in the comments! x

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28 thoughts on “A Minimalist’s Guide to Using Social Media Wisely + Mindfully”

  1. You’ve summed it up so well and echoed my feelings completely. It’s exactly how I approach social media too. Mindfulness has helped greatly, especially with multiple social networks vying for our attention.

    Reply
  2. This is such a great post – I often get tempted to delete all my profiles, so good to know I’m not the only blogger who feels that way!

    I’m a long time fan of your blog, so I thought I’d add a couple of your posts to something called Quuu Promote. You pinned one my blog posts a while back (‘3 clever tools to simplify your wardrobe’, I believe) and it gave me such a huge boost in traffic that it seems only fair I repay the favour 😀 It’s basically a content promotion tool, so hopefully, you should see our subscribers sharing your posts on social media soon.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Amy! Haha – it’s so tough balancing social media when you’re blogger! You’re definitely not alone 🙂

      I’ve never heard of Quuu Promote, I’ll have to check it out – but thanks so much for any support! And I’m so glad to hear that my pin helped you out! Pinterest is definitely an amazing marketing tool.

      Thanks again for reading! xx Jen

      Reply
  3. Great post! I’ve recently started minimizing social media’s role in my life, especially now that I’ve started blogging. I noticed I wasn’t fully present to my family, because I was always checking notifications for various apps. I love your tip about deleting apps from the phone + setting intentions before surfing the web. I’ve deleted all but instagram and I’m only checking notifications in the morning and evening. I’ve also started leaving my phone in places that aren’t easily accessible to limit temptation. For example, I leave my phone upstairs because I’m too lazy to go up and grab it to only check social media.

    Reply
    • It’s definitely much harder once you start blogging because the line between personal use and blog use really gets blurred! I love your advice about leaving your phone somewhere out of easy reach – I might steal this tip! Thanks and good luck on your blog!! x

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  4. This is an awesome post Jennifer! I agree and think it’s so important we filter other peoples’ controlled content. Knowing what our intentions are before we go on social media is huge. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to other people online but knowing but adjust what we see and our mindset when we go online is huge. Thank you again.
    http://www.notokthatsokcoach.com

    Reply
  5. Great post – I love all the tips you include on how to keep using social media in a mindful way. I’ve just done a big social media detox and now only use the social media I actually love, not the ones I feel I ‘should’ be on. I feel so much less pressure and have more time to do the important things that matter, like writing and spending quality time with family.

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  6. What a great post and so timely with so much noise going on politically. I can attest to feeling hella confused over Pinterest and deciding it was not adding value, and just not my thing. And, guess what? I’m perfectly okay! 😛

    I used Twitter lists but I must try out your FB ideas. Thanks again, xxoo

    Reply
  7. Great post, and so important to help keep things in perspective at a time like this! The other thing that had me considering taking a social media break this week was finding out just how much Facebook’s algorithms keep us in a bubble of people with similar views and feeding us only news articles that support that. Makes it difficult to understand and forge connections with people of different beliefs!

    Oh and I had no idea about prioritising people OR Facebook Groups! Thank-you!

    Reply
    • YES!! The algorithm things really gets to me too, and it feels like right now there is more ‘fake’ news than ever floating around on FB. I’m definitely trying to go a little easy on FB right now (which is why the Groups app is so good because I still have many I enjoy!)

      Reply
  8. I love the community of social media when I need a boost. With this week’s elections, many people have shared hopeful, inspiring letters and messages with calls to action to help make our country and our world a little brighter.

    Reply
    • I totally agree! This is why I trying to offered a balanced approach – too often we here “social media is bad” but the truth is it there are also wonderful, uplifting communities too! It sounds like you’ve found a few good ones 😉 Thanks for commenting Julie x

      Reply
  9. This is all great advice, and on a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I love social media, but I definitely have a problem with FOMO and have a tendency to take an all-or-nothing approach; for instance when I open my Instagram, I feel compelled to scroll down till I reach the posts I’ve already seen, and that also means I’m more likely to avoid it if I don’t check in for a couple of days, because of the prospect of dozens of pictures to scroll through. I honestly don’t know why this is (and I don’t feel the same way with Twitter or Facebook; on those ones I just find myself in an infinite scroll loop), so I like the idea of using natural barriers so I can check in on my feed without feeling like I need to see EVERYTHING that’s happened in it since I last looked.

    Reply
    • Hi Nicola! I’m really bad with FOMO sometimes too … generally on my days off (which always drives me nuts because I know I should be using my precious free time better!) A friend suggest the natural barrier thing and it’s definitely a big help so give it a try! xx

      Reply
    • They truly are! With a few exceptions of course, but as a general rule they are a dark rabbit hole to avoid. And yep, I’ve been trying to stay offline – or I’ve been really conscious of what I’m bringing to the table (the world needs positive vibes right now!) Thanks for commenting Rachel 🙂

      Reply
  10. There are lots of great tips, thank you. I must get Facebook Groups as an app.
    Generally, I feel quite positive about social media. It might help that I’m not of a generation it’s a huge part of my identity and self worth. I use it to connect with lots of interesting people and access information.
    The downside for me, and one that I need to actively manage, is the huge time waster it can be. Like you suggest, I look it when I know there will be a natural time limit (about to head out the door), or I set the timer on my phone or iPad.

    Reply
    • Hi Amy! Yes – definitely try out the groups app – I think it’s a big help 🙂
      And 99% of the time, my biggest problem is time wasting too – although I’d be lying if I said that every once in a while I didn’t let something else get to me.
      Thanks for stopping by! x

      Reply

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