Managing Digital Use

With people spending an average of 4.8 hours a day on their mobile phones, many of us could benefit from a digital detox. If used properly (such as listening to relaxing podcasts, staying in touch with our friends and using health apps) our phones can boost our mental health, but the constant connectivity can instead often be an additional source of stress. 

If you need some ways to manage your digital use, here are some tips:

Limit Your Social Media Use

It’s easy when we’re scrolling on social media to compare ourselves to friends, family and celebrities. Limiting the time you spend on social media can be a good way to focus on what’s important in your own life without comparing yourselves to others. Why not use an app like Moment to limit your usage?

Digital connectivity can also often make us feel like we’re missing out and we may find ourselves overcommitting to events out of fear that we’ll be left behind. FOMO can also keep us constantly checking our devices in case we miss an important text, DM, or post.

Reducing the time we spend on our phones is one way to set limits and reduce our fear of missing out. It’s a good idea to do this in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling cut off from what’s happening in your digital world – perhaps set a block of time to look at your phone, or put your phone in a different room for part of your day?

Tailor Your Social Media

If you find yourself getting angry, anxious or stressed when you’re on your phone, it may be worth unfollowing accounts that trigger those feelings. Regularly auditing who you are following on each platform is a helpful solution. 

Additionally, you can mute words on social media to tailor your feed.

To mute words and phrases on Twitter so you no longer see tweets about certain topics, follow these instructions:

  • Select your icon on the upper left corner.
  • Select “Settings and privacy” > “Privacy and safety” > “Mute and block.”
  • Tap “Muted words.”
  • Tap the plus sign and enter the word you want to mute.
Limit Your News Intake

Watching or reading the news can be a helpful way to stay informed, but it can also increase our anxiety.

Try only looking at the news and social media at certain times of the day for a limited duration. It’s also a good idea to avoid screens for an hour or two before bed as the blue light emitted by screens, paired with any stress inducing content, can negatively affect our sleep.

Activism can be a great antidote to feelings of helplessness with what’s going on in the news. When we’re feeling distressed about something specific, it can help to do something proactive. We could donate to a cause, join a peace protest, or call on our MPs to take action.

Practice Good Stress Management

When we feel stressed, our body releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, which cause stress reactions such as nausea and indigestion, poor sleep, irritability and withdrawal. Regularly practising good stress management can help alleviate stress.

There are some great tips in the Resources section of our website on how to practice good stress management.

Talk to Someone

If you’re finding it difficult to manage your digital use, it can be a huge relief to talk to someone you trust. There are some helpful tips on opening up in our Time to Talk blog.

If you aren’t able to talk to someone close to you about how you’re feeling, our evening support line Breathing Space is available 7 days a week and Samaritans are available to talk 24/7 on 116 123.

We have free resources on our Wellbeing Activities page if you’d like additional self-care tips. If you are experiencing stress, our Breathing Space support line, is open 7 days a week from 5:30pm – 11:00pm.