A mindful use of social media


How many times today did you feel the urge to check your phone? Rationally you know that you aren’t expecting any important messages and you don’t need to use it for any special reason. Still, you just feel that you have to check it one more time. Or do you sometimes feel that social media drains your energy? Perhaps you compared your life to that of an old school friend and you started thinking that you made the wrong career choice or that you noticed some heartless comments on a topic that’s dear to you and now you have completely lost faith in humanity. Still, once again you have to check it. With each of us spending an average of 2 hours on social media each day, it raises the question of how to approach it in a more mindful and wiser way? Is there a way to use it as a tool instead of being used by it?

Far from being terrible, Facebook, Instagram and the like can be used to connect with friends you don’t see very often, providing a sense of belonging. They can be used as a way of expressing oneself, perhaps you could post a poem you wrote, a picture you took or anything you believe is worth sharing. Or it can be used to just to stay in the loop by getting to know what’s going on in your friend’s lives and the world in general. However, with these benefits, there are downsides too. It’s not difficult to feel addicted. Social comparison is just a click away and it’s quite easy to lose your temper when we see some people’s opinions.

How can we create a more mindful approach to it?

Mindfulness is a popular word these days, it’s used everywhere and can have many meanings. But here I’m referring to the ability to focus our attention deliberately on what’s happening inside and outside of us, instead of being carried away by automatic thoughts and urges. By slowly developing a more flexible attention we can move away from urges we experience to everything else that’s happening and then ask, “How would I like to proceed?”. You can learn more about mindfulness checking our article about it here.


Here are some tips to help you develop a mindful and wiser approach to the use of social media:

  • Recognise your triggers

A simple model of human behaviour can be described by “Trigger, Behaviour, Reward”. This mechanism is present in every single species on the planet. First, something happens, then we act and depending on the consequences, the behaviour will continue or slowly decrease. Positive consequences tend to make behaviours persist and negative ones tend to make behaviours stop. That is if we are feeling good every time we do something it will soon become a habit.

Once you know that, you can start mapping your cycles of social media use. For example, you can feel bored with work (Trigger), you get your phone and check Facebook (Behaviour) and you feel better because work is not a problem for the next couple of minutes (Reward). The instant relief that checking social media provides makes us keep doing the same thing over and over again. Another example of a trigger could be anxiety, you start feeling a sense of uneasiness, then you check your phone and the tension is released because you saw that your last post received many likes. The list of possible triggers is endless: tiredness, sadness, avoidance, worry, fear or looking to feel good. For each of us, our triggers can be different. As soon as you start feeling the urge to check your phone, ask yourself what are you feeling? What is creating this need to go online right now?

  • Develop a more flexible attention

It’s not uncommon to feel “hooked” by the urges to go online and check what’s happening. By “hooked” I mean that feelings can sometimes be so strong that we have no other choice but to go with them and do what they urge us to do. You have probably experienced that feeling that before whether it was when you wanted to check your phone, when you had an urge for a drink or cigarette or when you crave a specific type of food. If that happened to you, you were “hooked” by your feelings.

However, we can slowly train our attention to override those automatic behaviours. That’s where mindfulness comes in. Right at the moment when we start feeling this urgent need to use social media, take a couple of deep breaths and focus your attention on the air coming in and out of the bodies (that will help to take your mind from a reactive to a more responsive mode). Then, move your attention away from the urge (which happens inside of us in the mind and/or in the body) to your surroundings. You can try focusing on one sense at a time. For example, by focusing on what you can see and saying to yourself “seeing, seeing”, or focusing on the sense of touch and saying “touching, touching”. Lastly, expand your attention to what’s going on in the place we happen to be at the moment, using as many senses as possible. By doing that you can drastically alter the impact some feelings have on you. If we feel the urge is still dominant, you can just say to yourself “I’ve noticed a need to check my phone” and move your attention back to where you were focusing before. Here’s a step by step process:

  • Take deep breathes while focusing on the air coming in and out of the nostrils,
    • Focusing on one sense at a time (vision, touch, hearing…)
    • Expand your attention by connecting to the world around you
    • Noticing the urge and saying “I’m noticing the need to check my phone”
    • Repeat
  • Getting in touch with your values.

Our personal values are like a compass guiding us to the kind of life we want to live and the person we want to be. When experiencing strong emotions it’s easy to get carried away and lose touch with what is truly important to us in the moment. By practising the exercise mentioned above, we can create some space between the trigger and our behaviour. In that space we can ask ourselves “is this going to help in the kind of life I want to create?” or “how’s this behaviour important to me?”. It’s important to reflect on what social media bring to our lives. As mentioned, some of its uses can be extremely beneficial. So ask what you want to get out of it. Is it that I want to connect with close friends? If so then Connection is a value for you. Do you want to share something with your partner? If so then Intimacy could be one of your values. Are you using it to learn new skills? Then Self-development is also a value you may have. Or even when just checking the latest meme, then the value of Humour is what’s important here. Or are you just running away from discomforts you might be feeling at the moment?

A great tool that can help you visualise this is called the choice point (see below). As soon as we notice any uncomfortable feelings and the urge to go online, we can stop, take a deep breath and ask “Is this action going to take me towards or away from my values? Is it in line with the person I want to be or is just going to make me feel more disconnected with what I want for myself?” Seeing what we want from that behaviour, whether it’s the need to check our notifications, visit a website or text someone, will help us decide on the best way to proceed.


Choice point Social Media 1

By slowing understanding our triggers, by developing a more flexible attention and by getting in touch with our values, we all have the possibility to make positive use of technology and turn it into a tool that helps us to get closer to what’s really important. 

Written by:

Filipe Bastos
Founder of:
www.mindowl.org

Mindowl Weekly

Sign up to our free weekly newsletter, to have early access to new articles on Meditation, Psychology and Breathwork.  Enter your email to subscribe – emails are limited to one a week and your address will not be shared with anyone else.

Follow us on Instagram

254 Posts
5668 Followers

Mindowl

Go beyond the meditation app!
Free resources:
👇👇👇

We find ourselves in our own world a lot of the time & lost in thought, even when talking to our loved ones, friends and colleagues. 💭

Mindful communication involves applying the principles of mindfulness to the way we communicate with each other, labelling our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to enhance our awareness. 

By being mindful about how we interact with others, we can become more empathetic, compassionate, and honest. 💗

Find out more ➡️ mindowl.org/mindful-communication/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #dailycalm #mindfulcommunication #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation We find ourselves in our own world a lot of the time & lost in thought, even when talking to our loved ones, friends and colleagues. 💭

Mindful communication involves applying the principles of mindfulness to the way we communicate with each other, labelling our thoughts, feelings, and emotions to enhance our awareness. 

By being mindful about how we interact with others, we can become more empathetic, compassionate, and honest. 💗

Find out more ➡️ mindowl.org/mindful-communication/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #dailycalm #mindfulcommunication #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 😊

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 🤗

#quote #quoteoftheday #quotestoliveby #motivation #inspiration #inspirationquotes #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. 😊

If you want to be happy, practice compassion. 🤗

#quote #quoteoftheday #quotestoliveby #motivation #inspiration #inspirationquotes #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment
One of the first steps you need to take in order to begin enjoying the simple pleasures in life is to slow down. 😊

Take a moment to stop what you are doing. 🚫

1️⃣ Draw your attention to your breath (this will ground you in the current moment).

2️⃣ Notice your breath entering and leaving your body.

3️⃣ Next, firmly plant your feet on the ground and draw your attention to this sensation.

4️⃣ Keep your attention and awareness directed at the breath or your feet on the ground, any time it moves away draw it back with patience.

5️⃣ Continue on with your day. 

This is a great way to introduce mindfulness into your life, you are simply making sure that your awareness is directed at the current moment. 🧘‍♂️

#presentmoment #selfawareness #innerwork #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment #emotionalintelligence #wellbeing #wanderingmind #quietthemind #meditationsoul #livinginthenow  #calmthemind #livemindfully #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #mindfulness One of the first steps you need to take in order to begin enjoying the simple pleasures in life is to slow down. 😊

Take a moment to stop what you are doing. 🚫

1️⃣ Draw your attention to your breath (this will ground you in the current moment).

2️⃣ Notice your breath entering and leaving your body.

3️⃣ Next, firmly plant your feet on the ground and draw your attention to this sensation.

4️⃣ Keep your attention and awareness directed at the breath or your feet on the ground, any time it moves away draw it back with patience.

5️⃣ Continue on with your day. 

This is a great way to introduce mindfulness into your life, you are simply making sure that your awareness is directed at the current moment. 🧘‍♂️

#presentmoment #selfawareness #innerwork #livinginthemoment #mindfulmoment #emotionalintelligence #wellbeing #wanderingmind #quietthemind #meditationsoul #livinginthenow  #calmthemind #livemindfully #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #mindfulness
Flow states are moments when you are deeply connected & engaged in an activity, and therefore living in the present moment. 🧘

Whether it's sport, writing, drawing or even cleaning, flow states are a great reminder that mindful living doesn't always mean regular deep meditation - mindfulness is everywhere. 🍃

Read more ➡️ mindowl.org/effortless-meditation

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #mindfulliving Flow states are moments when you are deeply connected & engaged in an activity, and therefore living in the present moment. 🧘

Whether it's sport, writing, drawing or even cleaning, flow states are a great reminder that mindful living doesn't always mean regular deep meditation - mindfulness is everywhere. 🍃

Read more ➡️ mindowl.org/effortless-meditation

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #mindfulliving
There are a number of breathwork exercises that aim to make you feel more energised. 🏃

These types of breathwork include the Wim Hof Method, the 5-3-3 technique, and ‘Breath of Fire’. 🔥

Energising breathwork practice is far more healthy than using caffeine or sugar to liven yourself up. 🥤

So put down that cup of coffee, and give the incredible power of breathwork for energy a go. 💪

🔴 mindowl.org/breathwork-for-energy

#breathingexercise #breathing #mediation #exercise #mindbody #motivation #happiness #meditationsoul #selfcareseries #inspiration #mindfulnessteacher #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #wellness #mindfulmeditation #practicemindfulness #mindbodysoul #groundyourself #learn #breathworkmeditation #breathdeeply #yoga #zen
Putting in the maximum amount of continuous effort isn't always the answer, besides what society tells us. 💭

The art of effortless meditation is about stopping the search for "more" and instead focusing on what you already have. Stop worrying or waiting for something greater than what's happening right now. 💗

Wu Wei closely relates to the goal of effortless action. ✨

Find out more ➡️ mindowl.org/effortless-meditation

#mindfulness #meditation #innerwork #selflove #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #quietthemind #effortlessaction #artofdoingnothing
We understand selfishness as lacking consideration for others and being concerned only with personal gain and pleasure, yet doing the things which contribute towards a genuinely happy and meaningful life, can be intelligently selfish. 

Doing what's best for others is the same as doing what's best for yourself. ✨

This can be practiced through Tonglen Meditation, which helps cultivate an inner peace of mind by extending compassion towards others. 🙏

Find out more ➡️ mindowl.org/tonglen-meditation/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #tonglenmeditation #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #dailycalm We understand selfishness as lacking consideration for others and being concerned only with personal gain and pleasure, yet doing the things which contribute towards a genuinely happy and meaningful life, can be intelligently selfish. 

Doing what's best for others is the same as doing what's best for yourself. ✨

This can be practiced through Tonglen Meditation, which helps cultivate an inner peace of mind by extending compassion towards others. 🙏

Find out more ➡️ mindowl.org/tonglen-meditation/

#meditation #mindfulness #peaceofmind #compassion #selfawareness #wellbeing #mindfulmoment #tonglenmeditation #quietthemind #selfacceptance #practicemindfulness #mindfulmeditation #dailycalm
Change is inevitable. It is important to focus on our relationship to change, one of the certain elements of life. 💭

To move with the fluctuation of life, change has to be embraced. We can choose to swim with the tide, or against it. 🧘

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #inevitablechange Change is inevitable. It is important to focus on our relationship to change, one of the certain elements of life. 💭

To move with the fluctuation of life, change has to be embraced. We can choose to swim with the tide, or against it. 🧘

#mindfulness #meditation #selfawareness #selfcompassion #innerwork #practicemindfulness #livinginthemoment #selflove #selfcare #mindfulmeditation #inevitablechange
There is so much more to life, so much to experience when we simply notice. Don't let life pass you by, be present and be human. 💗

#quoteoftheday #quote #quotestoliveby #mindfulness #meditation #mindfulmeditation #livinginthemoment #quietthemind #mindfulmoment #livinginthenow #selfawareness #inspirationquotes #inspiration #innerpeace There is so much more to life, so much to experience when we simply notice. Don't let life pass you by, be present and be human. 💗

#quoteoftheday #quote #quotestoliveby #mindfulness #meditation #mindfulmeditation #livinginthemoment #quietthemind #mindfulmoment #livinginthenow #selfawareness #inspirationquotes #inspiration #innerpeace
We live in such a busy and fast pace environment, that we look past the beauty around us. In every moment of life there is something to be grateful for, you just need to look to find it. 🌞

Slow down and appreciate the small things in life. This can lead to an overall feeling of contentment day-to-day. 

Write down three things you are grateful for every night before bed, and watch your life transform as you train your mind to see the positive in each moment. ☕️

#mindfulness #selfcareseries #meditation #gratitude #practicegratitude #mindfulsoul #mindfulmoment #peacefulness #selflove #selfcare #presentmoment #groundyourself #livinginthemoment #mindfulmeditation #reflection
It’s important to follow some practical steps when seeking to achieve an intentional life. 🏃‍♀️

Start by making more Towards moves, and less Away moves. Towards moves are healthy habits that align with the sort of person we want to be. 🤸‍♂️

Away moves are ineffective and unhelpful; they hook us to difficult thoughts, emotions and behaviours. 😔

Consciously implementing intentional living can help reproduce more towards moves. 🧘‍♀️

🔴 mindowl.org/intentional-living

#mindfulness #happiness #inspiration #intentionalliving #lifestyle #wellbeing #selfcare #mindfulmoment #presentmoment #innerwork #learn #practice #calmthemind #peacefulness #groundyourself It’s important to follow some practical steps when seeking to achieve an intentional life. 🏃‍♀️

Start by making more Towards moves, and less Away moves. Towards moves are healthy habits that align with the sort of person we want to be. 🤸‍♂️

Away moves are ineffective and unhelpful; they hook us to difficult thoughts, emotions and behaviours. 😔

Consciously implementing intentional living can help reproduce more towards moves. 🧘‍♀️

🔴 mindowl.org/intentional-living

#mindfulness #happiness #inspiration #intentionalliving #lifestyle #wellbeing #selfcare #mindfulmoment #presentmoment #innerwork #learn #practice #calmthemind #peacefulness #groundyourself
Tonglen meditation is a type of ancient practice focused on compassion. It is a type of visualisation that enhances feelings of compassion towards others. 😌

The word Tonglen is Tibetan for "sending and taking" which is exactly what this practice aims to do. It allows you to focus on the wellbeing of others, stepping away from the usual self-centred approach of our busy daily lives. 🧘‍♂️

Follow this exercise to cultivate the power of Tonglen Meditation. 

Find out more ➡️ mindowl.org/tonglen-meditation/

#meditation #mindfulness #compassion #selfawareness #meditationexercise #tonglenmeditation #innerpeace #quietthemind #meditationmoment #healing #wellbeing

MORE FROM THE BLOG

Keep on reading

How many times today did you feel the urge to check your phone? Rationally you know that you aren’t expecting any important messages and you don’t need to use it for any special reason. Still, you just feel that you have to check it one more time. Or do you

Read More
  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
    >