After hearing many people's new year's resolutions as well as crafting my own, one theme for 2019 is crystal clear. People want to spend less time on social media. Social media apps, especially Instagram, have been shown to have negative impacts on our mental health and can worsen conditions such as depression and anxiety. Many suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out,) and feel as though their lives are worse than everyone else's because the images portrayed on Instagram seem to reflect a perfect life.
But, most college kids who want to spend less time on Instagram will still find themselves scrolling for hours every day, which begs the question, what can we do instead to break this addiction? So, to help fill our minds with positive images instead of the toxic, superficial world of Instagram, here are 5 things you can do instead of scroll through Instagram.
1. Read for pleasure
Reading novels occupies our mind in a positive and entertaining way. Recently, over Christmas break, I made a promise to read my novel everyday as well as the newspaper instead of look at my phone, and I cannot stress enough how much of an impact it makes in your overall energy and happiness. Instead of turning to Instagram to entertain yourself, pick up a good book.
2. Watch a movie
Watching a movie is a great way to forget about the stresses of life and immerse yourself in a fantasy world where you can experience the impossible. Fight the urge to watch the movie with your phone within arm's length, because you will have a strong urge to pick it up and get a release of dopamine. To fight that urge, and to expand your attention span, put your phone in another room and enjoy a good flick.
3. Go out in nature
Being in nature has been shown to have remarkable effects on our mental and physical health. When you are sitting at home scrolling through Instagram, you are doing nothing positive for your well-being. It is like junk food for your brain. So, when you feel a craving for social media, go outside and take a quick walk around the block. If you're at school, take a walk around campus. If you're at home, walk around the neighborhood. After your walk, come home and observe how you feel. Chances are you will feel a million times better than if you spent that time looking at other people's lives on Instagram.
4. Talk to a friend
No, DMs do not count. Many people flock to social media for interaction with others. The truth is, virtual reality is not reality. You simply cannot beat talking in person or over the phone. So, next time you're alone and feel the need to talk to others, don't go to Instagram, dial up your friend and have a chat that way.
Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. The danger of social media apps like Instagram is that our brain becomes overloaded with stimuli, both visual and audio. This causes our brain to crave that amount of stimuli to feel occupied, which can lead to stress and tiredness. So, to fight that, when you feel your brain craving that stimuli, put on a quick guided meditation and close your eyes. It will leave you feeling calmer and more energized, which is exactly how we should feel in the new year.