Gone are the days when being followed was a creepy event. With the advent of social media, being “followed” is now a desirable feat. While most people agree that the growth of social media isn’t slowing down any time soon, many also agree that it has the potential to wreak havoc on your mental health. There are many reasons for this, and the idea of “following” is just one. Here are just a few of the reasons we have to be aware of our social media following habits and my top tips for keeping your mental health in check while you click:
Your IRL friends are cute and all, but most of our feeds are made up of a celeb or two or 200. While it can be intriguing to see what Fill-In-The-Blank Kardashian is up to this weekend, the potential to feel inferior about your own life is huge. Why are their lives so awesome and ours so… well… not? It’s important to do a daily reality check and remember that most of these people aren’t simply snapping that selfie while waiting for a streetcar, but rather have curated a team of professionals to take that perfectly “effortless and natural” shot. We’re talking hair and make-up, profesh photographers, expensive lighting, and Photoshop galore. Many even travel to funky, exotic locations for the sole purpose of taking drool-worthy Insta snaps. You can’t go comparing these shots to your sweet pics of eating ice cream or going on a hike. Comparison can be the killer of a healthy self-esteem. If you do go down that rabbit hole, and you find yourself feeling inferior, make sure you do a mental inventory of all the gear and personnel your fave celeb needed for that cool pic versus what you needed for yours. Don’t forget, it’s their job to spend hours a day perfecting their appearance, creating a fantasy, and making the world envious. Don’t fall into the trap. Be proud of your authentic life.
“Sigh. If I only had that skin, those brows, that ’do, that BOD! Then I’d be happy/meet the right guy/have more fun/be a better person.” Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, these kinds of thoughts may very well still be on your mind as part of your subconscious thinking. Having these thoughts lurking in your subconscious may be even more damaging than actively thinking them because they can be eating away at your self-esteem without you having an inkling about it, like a silent killer. Like the previous point, comparison is your worst enemy here. The antidote is to take the opportunity to really celebrate our differences and what makes each of us uniquely beautiful (because we are all uniquely beautiful). What about yourself do you love that makes you, you? Your constellation of freckles? Your fearlessness when it comes to unicorn hair dye? Your ability to rock a red lip like a ’50’s movie star? Your strong arms that you earned at the gym (or hauling around a teething baby at 4am… why no, I’m not talking about myself…)? Start appreciating your own beauty and you’ll find you’ll have more fun drawing inspo from those you follow; it will actually be an inspiration rather than a sobfest of wishing you looked like a stranger.
Following others on social media ain’t all bad. It can definitely have a positive effect! The key is to identify those who you follow that bring you down (promptly clicking the unfollow button when you do) and those who raise you up. There are plenty of influencers out there who can motivate you to help you in the areas of life you want to improve. Seek out happiness gurus, mindfulness mavens, fitness folks, badass girl bosses, or whoever else inspires you to float your own boat.
Find the funny
…And on the subject of who to follow, here’s a bonus tip from me to you: do yourself a favour and follow some funny people. Like, really funny. Who doesn’t need some comic relief here and there? Go for your fave comedian, and then see who pops up under the “suggested for you” section. A couple personal favourites from my Twitter to follow are Anna Kendrick and Chrissy Teigen. They definitely keep me laughing when the world gets too serious.
The limit DOES exist
All you Mean Girls fans out there may be yelling out “The limit does not exist!”, but let me tell you, it needs to where your social media is concerned. With our phones at our fingertips, it is so easy to have a quick peek at Instagram whenever you have a literal second, but checking in with your social on a minute-to-minute basis is not doing you any favours. We’re too tapped in these days. Being bombarded with constant pics or blurbs in 280 characters or less can start frying your brain, making your attention span weaken. Practicing a little mindfulness (a personal fave in my practice!) in lieu of a newsfeed swipe can offer a huge perk to your mental health. An awesome goal to get you started is to avoid temptation for at least one hour a day. You can do this by – gasp – turning off your phone, or at least putting it into airplane mode. Disconnecting, even for a short time, can give you a few extra moments in the day to do the things you love instead of worrying about Instagramming them.
Give these tips a try and take notice of how your mental health improves so you can once again have fun with all your socials. Hashtag Happy Face!
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: @laurenberger_msw. She is currently booking for August 2018.