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Social Media Survival Guide: How to avoid digital burnout

Daily postings, entertaining stories and creative reels – on Instagram we are able to share our lives while eagerly following others‘. For many of us social media is part of our daily routines and businesses. But, can we truly enjoy and be present in the moment while we’re constantly on our screens? Cultivating a mindful way of using instagram has been a huge challenge for me. Yet, it is vital in order to nourish my mental well-being and avoid digital burnout.

However, my relationship to Instagram is complicated, to say the least. I honestly lived through all the mental states, from creative euphoria to deleting the app deeply frustrated, but learned a lot along the way. I love the many benefits instagram brings to my life and business by being a great source of inspiration and an easy medium to find connection. Simultaneously I’m well aware of the subliminal pressure of constantly needing to be present on social media and frequently comparing my life to the reality presented on instagram. Stress, disaffection and digital burnout are side effects we definitely want to avoid.

How to use instagram mindfully and avoid digital burnout?

So, instead of completely ignoring social media, I developed a mindful way of using instagram. And most of the time, it works very well for me. In case you want to try it, here’s how I do it:

1. Reflect on your user experience

In order to cultivate a conscious way of using instagram you should take a closer look on how you’re dealing with it right now. Do a quick inventory and reflect on the following questions: Why do you use social media? Is your profile personal or is it relevant for your business? Are you only consuming or are you creating content as well? How much time do you spend on instagram and how do you feel about it?

By answering these questions, you’ll gain valuable awareness, that will help you to set new goals, define consequences or change your behavior. These actions will definitely look different for everyone. While you might feel like daily presence on instagram is way too much, someone else feels perfectly fine about it – and that is okay. Above all, using instagram in a mindful way means understanding and respecting your personal needs.

2. Set time limits and boundaries

Wether you’re looking for inspiration, you’re seeking connection or you’re trying to find new clients – please never lose track of time. Speaking from my experience, an hour passes in a blink of an eye. Thanks to the very smart algorithm instagram shows us exactly what we want to see and keeps us glued to the screen. It’s not a coincidence that we lose ourselves in endless scrolling and that we totally forget why we opened the app in the first place.

Unfortunately instagram is not only an entertaining time filler or a smart business tool but is also able to affect our behavior and mental health. Even considering all the benefits, if I spend too much time on social media I lose focus, lack productivity and start to feel discontent. Therefore, I really try to track and limit my presence online.

3. Social media detox can prevent digital burnout

Screen time limits and regular breaks, that can even last days or weeks, are a great way for me to not get stressed or burned out by social media. That’s why I set a daily reminder to limit my time I spend on Instagram (you can do this directly in the app). Once I reach this preassigned time limit, a little pop-up reminds me to finally put away my phone. Also, at least the first hour after I get up in the morning and before I go to bed are absolutely phone-free.

We shouldn’t feel the need to document every single second of our lives. It’s good to take a step back every once in a while. Especially while traveling I love to social media detox as much as possible. That way I am able to fully enjoy and be entirely present in the moment. Even though I still take pictures or create video content anyway, I’ll always post them later (if at all). After all, these breaks are the best way for me to refocus and find new inspirations.

Digital Burnout image shows a phone that's about to be turned off.

4. Turn off your notifications

Push-notifications are a safe bet for stress and digital burnout. I don’t know how you feel, but the tiny red circle discreetly indicating news or updates, makes me feel pretty nervous. Likes, comments and messages tempt to visit Instagram immediately. If we’re trying to develop a mindful way to use social media, these random log-ins are definitely something we want to avoid. If we’re being entirely honest, it’s never just checking out a new message. Way too often we get lost in endless scrolling or feeling pressured to answer right away.

For this reason I switched off all push notifications long ago (and not just on instagram). That way I only engage with updates and new message once I have the time for it. One of the many benefits: I’m less distracted and don’t feel swamped by social media anymore.

5. Consciously curate your feed

Once we open instagram everything seems to be impeccable and even the imperfect presents itself as kinda aesthetic. No matter which bubble we’re navigating through on social media, the daily overload of impressions can be way too much. As a result we often feel overwhelmed and unhappy. Content we consume on a regular basis has a huge effect on our (mental) well-being. That’s why we need to be mindful and should consciously curate our instagram feed.

Take a closer look at the content that’s showing up in your timeline. Reflect on who you’re following and how these accounts make you feel. Are there any profiles that trigger negative emotions or unhealthy behaviors? Don’t hesitate and unfollow them. If you want to boost your mental health and elude digital burnout we need to own our feed. Digital decluttering is as important as cleaning your home.

Using social media in a mindful way also means to me that I don’t want to get lost in my bubble. I want to stay open to new perspectives and subjects. So, I’ll try to organize my feed as diverse as possible. There’s way more to discover on Instagram than just beauty influencers and interior accounts. Especially content outside of my niche inspires, educates and enriches me.

Don’t take Instagram too serious

It often appears that way, but Instagram is not a realistic portrayal of peoples lives or the world around us. No matter how personal and authentic the shared content is, it’s just a part of reality. Too often we forget that what’s shared on social media are carefully curated fragments and never the whole picture. Therefore we need to stop comparing our reality to the one presented online. Let’s not take Instagram too serious and rather focus on a mindful and conscious way of dealing with it.

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