8 Ways to Have a Healthier Relationship With Social Media
This may sound familiar: it's 7 a.m., you wake up, grab your phone and immediately start scrolling through Instagram. Ugh, is that your ex-coworker smiling in Tulum with chiseled abs? You wish you could take a vacation. Gah! the perfect-seeming millennial mom on Snapchat has already made her kid's lunches and is on her way to work with a blowout.
Twenty-five minutes later, you've missed your morning TRX class and are questioning your life choices. You've been sucked into the social media vortex.
As much as social media can help us feel connected, it can also cause uncomfortable judgments, low self-esteem, and jealously.
So how do we have a healthy relationship with the tool that's clearly not going anywhere?
The motivational speaker, meditation expert, and best-selling author (her sixth book "Judgement Detox" was released in January) clearly knowns how to balance mindfulness in the age of social sharing.
After all, the self-proclaimed "Spirit Junkie" has amassed a following of 417k on Instagram and 489k on Facebook. Here, she tells us how to not let social platforms get the best of us.
Only Do It If You Actually Like It
"Do it if you like it," says Bernstein. "Some people feel like they need to be on social media to keep up with things. If it's not bringing you joy, don't do it."
Um, how do you know if this is bringing you warm and fuzzy feeling? Bernstein's gauge: "If you're using Instagram or Facebook, ask yourself: how does this make me feel?" Often the most obvious answers are the clearest ones.
Be Aware of Its Addictiveness
The spiritual guru says it's important to notice if social media becomes an addictive pattern. She credits checking your Facebook at dinner or perusing Instagram instead of helping your kids as examples of times when it could be a problem. In addition, be aware if it's keeping you awake at night or distracting you from doing work at your job. Many of us may be guilty of even bringing our phones into the bathroom to do a quick midday scroll.
"If, in any way, the behavior around social media becomes unmanageable, then you know that you've gone down the road of addiction," she explains.
Only Follow Accounts That Feed Your Soul
If it's broken, fix it. "I always say, only follow the people who make you feel good," Bernstein says. "If there is someone who you compare yourself to or are judging and it triggers you, unfollow or block them. We don't have enough time in the day to be following or judging people who don't uplift us."
Part of that also involves putting yourself first. "Make feeling good a priority," she adds. "If you do that, then you're going to be conscious of who you're following, and unfollow anyone who doesn't make you feel good."
Analyze Your Judgements and Learn From Them
While it seems easy enough to just unfollow people, sometimes that's not an option. Maybe you need to stay on top of a work competitor to gain information, or you would seriously offend someone by unfollowing them. If this is the case, there's a workaround.
"When someone triggers us, you can see it as a good thing because it is revealing something that you still need to heal," Bernstein explains. "So you could stop following them, but the more brave thing to do is to continue to follow them, and to look more closely at what your behavior is. Look at your thoughts behind the judgement."
OK, so what on the earth does that mean? Bernstein breaks it down: "Whenever we are judging someone else, we are projecting out something that we don't want about ourselves. Take the single girl who is scrolling through Instagram judging all of the women in their wedding dresses. Her judgement of those girls is a projection of her feeling inadequate because she is single."
Now that you've named your judgment, follow Bernstein's plan to get over it. "The first step is to witness your judgment without judgment," she says. "Just look at it, be conscious of the judgmental pattern and see your part in it."
She goes on: "There are four questions you can ask yourself: What or whom am I judging? How does it make me feel? Why do I feel justified in this judgment? What did I experience from my past that is triggering this judgment now?"
Bernstein notes that by understanding your judgment patterns and thought process around it, you can begin the healing process.
Be Precious With Your Time
Remember that example of waking up and wasting precious time on Instagram when you could be in downward facing dog? Well, treat your time and space with more respect - especially time spent in the bedroom.
"I cherish the time before bed and the time when I wake up," Bernstein says. "When we go to sleep at night, we have the opportunity to release all of the resistance of the day before. That sets us up to win in the morning.
Another thing that sets us up to win: going to sleep in a positive headspace. This mean avoiding scary movies, or, say, a heated political discussion before passing out.
Also, turn your phone on airplane mode when you sleep like Bernstein does. This ensures you don't wake up and immediately see panic inducing alerts.
Don't Do it For Attention
It's the age of the influencer. But if you want to stand out, you have to be authentic. "Make sure you are enjoying what you are sharing, and it feels good to you when you share it," Bernstein says. "Don't share anything that feels needy and controlling. If you're trying to get a lot of ‘likes,' there is energy behind that, and that energy will be felt through the internet."
Before you gram that kissy-face selfie, ask yourself: Is this truly helpful or not? "That question can always help you navigate the types of posts you're putting on the internet," Bernstein says.
Use Social Media As a Tool
Bernstein is no hypocrite. She's used social to amass a huge following and believes it is an empowering platform.
"I love social media," she says. "It's been such a supportive element of being able to carry a message, run a business, and tell a story online. I often say that the Internet is my business partner."
While social platforms can be emotionally harmful if you let them consume you, they can be powerful tools if used positively. "Many empowering movements have been created out of social media. And we can't discredit that," she says. "Great things have come from it, really take that in and take it seriously."