In the 21st century, everyone has something to say. As a listener, it’s important to balance your media diet and consume content that benefits you.
Whether we’re browsing social media or watching the news on TV, media is all around us—and it’s not always good for our mental health.
This blog never has been about politics, and it never will be. But the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election is coming up, and it’s going to be a wild ride, no matter which side you are on.
I think it’s important to be aware of what’s happening in the world around you, regardless of where you live. It’s great to be an informed citizen. However, I also think there’s a point where traditional media and social media can be detrimental, especially if they’re causing you stress in your personal life.
And politics isn’t the only culprit. When your Instagram feed consists of influencers who promote dangerous flat tummy tea products and Facetune their photos to the point of being unrecognizable, it makes it difficult for social media to be a positive force in your life.
I wanted to write this post to bring awareness to the fact that, as media consumers, we have control over what we watch, listen to, and read. If your TV, computer, or phone is upsetting you, you are allowed to shut it off. Even though we live in a world that is “always on,” you have control over the media that influences your mental state, and you should care for your mind above all else.
Here are 8 ways you can make sure that the content you’re consuming is beneficial for your quality of life, not detrimental to your mental wellness.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. All opinions are mine alone. Read my full disclosure policy for details.
1. Assess your current media diet.
The concept of a “media diet” is similar to a nutritional diet, but it assesses the relationship you have with your devices instead of food. Just like with food, both quality and quantity of content are important to have a balanced media diet.
To assess your current content consumption habits, use a time tracker like Toggl to measure how much time you spend in front of screens each day. You might be surprised by the result!
Then, think about the quality of the content you absorb. You should try to limit consumption of media that doesn’t help you.
Ask yourself these questions to judge your media diet:
- How much time do I spend watching TV, surfing the Internet, and browsing social media?
- How much time do I spend talking to friends and family online vs. on the phone or in-person?
- What is valuable about the content I consume?
- Are there areas of my life that have suffered because I spend too much time online or watching TV?
- Is my media consumption intentional, or is it passive?
2. Limit consumption of content that is not valuable to you.
I’m not saying to completely cut reality TV out of your life. (I’m addicted to The Bachelor.) You could argue that it provides entertainment value. But how valuable is it, really?
Just be aware of the advantages of the media you’re consuming, and if there are only a few benefits, you’re better off finding content that provides more value.
For example, instead of watching Jersey Shore every day, you could spend 30 minutes reading a book on a topic of your choice. Entertainment shows might make you laugh, but if you watch them too often, you’re wasting time that could be spent learning or working on a passion project.
Here are a few awesome books to check out!
If you want to improve the quality of media you’re consuming, I highly recommend these reads. They’re super inspiring—they will motivate you to follow your dreams and live your best life!
3. Be strategic with the time you spend online.
For many people, social media is like a rabbit hole—they could spend hours scrolling down the feed without doing anything productive. Instead of allowing your time online to be endless and unstructured, try setting time limits for certain tasks.
For example, if you want to see what your friends are doing on Instagram, set a timer for 15 or 30 minutes so you have a specific time limit allocated for that activity.
It’s important to take breaks from work to maintain your relationships online, but it’s easy to become addicted to social media. You don’t want to look up from your phone and realize that three valuable hours of your day have passed because you got lost in the feed.
4. Clean out your inbox and unsubscribe from irrelevant lists.
Cluttered inboxes are inefficient, and they can seriously stress you out. If you’re on email lists that you have no interest in, go ahead and unsubscribe from them.
You’re doing yourself a favor by cleaning out your inbox, and you may not realize it, but you are also doing a favor for the email marketers. Most email marketing services raise their prices when you accumulate certain numbers of subscribers.
When you unsubscribe from someone’s list, they no longer have to pay for you to receive their emails. And if you weren’t even opening their emails in the first place, they’re better off without you, right?
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5. Unfollow social media accounts that don’t inspire you.
Social media should motivate you, not stress you out. Cleaning out your social media feed is a liberating feeling, especially if you’re following a ton of accounts you don’t resonate with.
Go ahead and hit the “unfollow” button. It’s not personal. You’re just doing what is best for your mental wellness.
6. Fact-check everything you read.
There’s so much misinformation online that you absolutely must fact-check something before you share it.
And I’m not just talking about politics, either! Celebrities, influencers, and other public figures get dragged daily because of false rumors that spread like wildfire online.
If you aren’t 100 percent sure it’s true, don’t share it. You don’t want to be contributing to social media’s problematic culture of misinformation.If you aren't 100 percent sure it's true, don't share it.
7. Know when to unplug.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break. If the noise of traditional and social media becomes too bothersome, just unplug.
Digital detoxes can be highly beneficial, and I guarantee that your followers will still be there when you get back. Plus, if something crazy happens in the news, your family and friends will get you up to speed.
You should do a digital detox if:
- You are addicted to your devices
- You feel overwhelmed by what you see, hear, and read in the media
- You have a headache from staring at screens
- You’ve neglected hobbies because of your media addiction
8. Consume less, and create more.
I don’t know about you, but I feel so much happier when I’m creating. Whether I’m blogging, drawing, or designing something, creative hobbies warm my heart and make me feel fulfilled.
If you think traditional and social media are having a negative impact on your mental wellness, I suggest that you replace your content consumption habits with content creation. Find something creative to do instead of being glued to your TV or scrolling through social media.
You will have something to do that is both fun and productive—and creativity is an amazing stress reliever.