social media addiction + mindfulness; 5 ways

5 ways to use mindfulness to tackle social media addiction

This one’s for all the parents who find themselves up late at night scrolling through Facebook when they intended to go to sleep? You’re not alone.

Social media addiction is a growing concern for Aussie parents. We talked to social entrepreneur and mindfulness expert Dr Elise Bialylew about how we
can use mindfulness to manage the ‘autopilot’ that finds us scrolling our days away.

But first, what is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a training that helps us become more present, self-aware and better able to respond rather than react on autopilot in our everyday lives. It has been proven by science to be a powerful tool to enhance well-being and mental focus.

It’s also shown to help with impulse control and can be a powerful tool for kicking addictions from drugs, to social media.

Five steps to using mindfulness to overcome social media addiction:

Reflect

Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with social media. Are you happy with the way you are using it? Do you feel you might be a little addicted? If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook or Instagram until the early hours of the morning, the answer is probably yes.

Set an intention

Set an intention around changing your behaviour with technology and think about practical steps you can take to make it more difficult to get hooked. Consider taking the social media apps off your phone and commit to sleeping without your mobile in the bedroom (even for just a few nights) to see what effect it has.

Recognise

The next time you feel the urge to check social media, take a pause. Recognise you are caught in craving. Count to ten before continuing to use it. This can interrupt the urge.

Investigate

When we crave anything, there’s usually an uncomfortable emotion or feeling we are trying to escape. This leads us to do something that will bring us pleasure. Take a moment to bring your attention to your body. Sense any emotions or feelings that are present (agitation, stress, loneliness, boredom). Once you identify the emotion, silently label it to yourself. This brings more mindful awareness to your current state and shows you the underlying issue is driving the urges.

Unhook

Mindfulness, the ability to be present from moment to moment, allows you to consciously notice what is happening as it is happening and pause before you act on your urges. In this way, mindfulness helps disrupt automatic habits and addiction loops.

Becoming aware of your cravings is the first step to having more choice around how you’re going to relate to them. Mindfulness is a practice that will help you catch the urge before you act on it and help you break bad habits.

Regular mindfulness meditation is the key. Just 10 minutes a day is all it takes to improve your sense of wellbeing.

Get Mindful In May

Mindful In May is a global mindfulness meditation challenge that teaches you how to meditate for 10 minutes a day with the world’s best teachers; while raising funds to bring clean drinking water to developing nations. Dedicating your practice to positively impacting others is a win, win. Get a free downloadable guided meditation here and register here.

Dr Elise Bialylew is a doctor trained in psychiatry, turned social entrepreneur and mindfulness expert and the founder of Mindful in May, the world’s largest online global mindfulness campaign raising funds for global poverty. Elise is passionate about supporting individuals and organisations to develop inner tools to flourish and offers workshops and training at The Mind Life Project.

Words: Dr Elise Bialylew / Interview: Barbara O’Reilly