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While social media may pull us away from our own mindfulness, it can also strengthen connections and spread joy. We can “snap” a birthday celebration with far-flung family or “share” the new puppy with a son living at college. So here’s the question: how can we practice mindfulness in these modern digital times? And should we try? Is a digital detox even possible? Find 5 tips here for mindfulness in the social media age that will help you find balance between joy in the present and using social media to further meaningful relationships. What is mindfulness? Mindfulness is the ability to recognize your need to refocus and pull your concentration back to the present. If you are mindful, you are aware of the moment and fully engaged in what’s going on in the NOW, instead of being distracted by what’s going on in your mind. Mindfulness is still a work in progress for me and in some ways it always will be. But for all of us, just recognizing the idea of mindfulness and its power is a great start. Social media is a constant challenge to the idea of mindfulness. I like to post regularly on my Instagram account to connect with others, which makes finding a middle ground between the two a daily struggle for me. If you’re on social media, posting, snapping photos and sharing videos of what you’re doing, you’re not practicing mindfulness. Using your phone, camera or social media in your daily activities takes away from the full experience of the present. It’s like having a third wheel on a date—It's a distraction and the chance of a connection is lost. Everything has a good side and a bad side, and social media is no exception. The benefits of social media? Connecting with like-minded souls within a community, connecting with friends and family, being able to inspire and being inspired by others, expressing creativity, and sharing your passion. But pitfalls of social media are its tendency to suck us in and take us away from real life and the present. And whether or not we’d like to admit it, social media can cause us to feel guilt and strive for unrealistic expectations. It isn't hard to start allowing social media to define our self-worth. But, like it or not, this is the age we live in. Instead of rejecting social media entirely, consider how we might incorporate mindful habits into our social media use. You don’t have to do a complete digital detox to get disconnected once in awhile. Social media has its place, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our real-life interactions and experiences. Living in the moment should be our first priority, not second to the social media world. Here are my tips for trying to balance mindfulness with the reality of a social media world. Tips for Mindfulness in a Social Media Age - Think of it as a Digital Detox Lite 1. Set aside specific time for social media each day: It helps to have clear boundaries on when you use your social media. Whether it’s an hour in the evening or everyday at lunch, make it work for you. Allocating time to check your accounts takes away the constant distraction or desire to see what’s happening online. And consider cutting back on your posts as well. Instead of showing your life EVERY day on Instagram or Snapchat, why not give people a glimpse once a week? If you’re posting or scrolling through social media all the time, you’re not living in the moment. 2. Don’t make a social media check-in the first thing you do each day: When you wake up, it may feel natural to reach for your phone immediately, but try not to. The emails, updates and posts can wait. Start the first hour or two of your day with healthier habits like enjoying tea, meditating or journaling. Give yourself time to connect with your own mind before connecting to social media. 3. Enjoy a digital detox before bed: Fall asleep with a book in your hands instead of your phone. This has been an important step for me in helping my own mindfulness practice. Going to bed with a book has allowed me time for myself, to check-in and relax in the moment. It’s also helped me fall asleep faster. 4. Leave your phone behind: Commit to leaving your phone and social media access at home when you have special plans. Maybe it’s a long overdue lunch with friends, a date with your partner or dinner with family. Of course it’s nice to capture what you’re doing and share it, but it’s more important to have a real connection with your environment and the people that surround you. 5. Disconnect every week: One to two times a week, take a day off from social media. I used to feel pressured to go online and post something every day, but once I survived more than a week without posting, I realized I didn’t need to be active online every day! Commit to at least trying a break for a day or more to see how liberating it can feel. Taking time off from social media each week has also made me more relaxed. There will always be another day to post—social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Mindfulness in the social media age may look different for each of us, but it starts with being aware of your social media use. Notice how you feel when you choose to be present in the moment instead of sharing every intimate moment with the world. While social media is a great way to capture and highlight these special times, it doesn’t replace them. Embrace mindfulness. Try a digital detox every once in awhile. Recognize that there’s something priceless about keeping some things to yourself. Just as we detox our bodies with nourishing foods, it’s never a bad idea to take a digital detox for your soul by feeding it with the present moment and all of the beauty that comes with it.