My take on social media and mental health might be a little different than what you normally hear.
I’m not going to lie and say that social media never affects my mental health. In the past, it has affected me tremendously and still does at times. But, the important thing is that I’ve learned to handle it pretty dang well. Social media health should be something that is talked about more often!
Sometimes you can be feeling these things without even realizing, so here is what I mean:
Comparison. Comparing looks, comparing lives, comparing what you think is someone else’s reality.
But, listen: Instagram is not reality. I mean, think about it.; do you share your every moment on social media? Do you post about your worst days or share pictures in your day-5 pajamas (come one, we all do it... right?). If you do post your less-than-‘insta worthy’ pics then major props to you!
I can’t even count the amount of time I’ve seen a picture of a beautiful girl and questioned my own beauty. Or the infinite amount of times I see someone living a fun and adventurous life full of traveling and cool experiences, and find myself getting irrationally jealous or sad. And then I remind myself that it is very possible that someone is looking at my account and feeling the same way!
While I know that my life isn’t quite as luxurious as it may seem on Instagram, I also know that people can’t always see that... just like they can’t see how long it took for me to find the perfect filter that makes my eyes pop and my skin glow in that selfie I posted. Do you get what I’m saying? I live the behind the scenes of my daily posts, but I know that people only see what I show them! I’m learning that sharing the average is just as important as sharing the best parts of life! I share pictures every single day, but most of the time they are pictures that I have had lined up for days or weeks… I don’t always remember to mention that it’s not me having the time of my life every single day, during the week I am usually working at my computer drinking cup after cup of coffee just to be able to get my work done.
What I’m getting at is that it is easy to compare ourselves and our lives to what we see on the internet. But, what we see on the internet is just, what we call, the highlight reel of peoples lives. This just means that people only post what they want you to see, they share their best moments, their best looks, their best skin days and their best thoughts. Sometime we share some insecurities or not-so-perfect moments- but rarely, if ever, do we share our worst. So essentially we compare our worst lows and our average and mundane to others highs. How is that fair!
So, that is my first step to making social media a HEALTHY and positive place. Take everything with a grain of salt and know that you can’t see what goes on behind the screen!
Also know that being jealous of someone’s life will lead to you not living yours to the fullest! You will get to the place you want to be, but you have to give yourself a chance. In the meantime, try turning your envious thoughts into inspiration! I have turned pretty much all of my negative thoughts and feelings into pieces of encouragement to go after what I want for my life!
My second step to healthy social media use is MAKE FRIENDS! Since I started worrying less about what people thought of me or my social posts and focusing more on the connections I make, I have met so many wonderful people through Instagram. People who share the same interests as me, hype me up on the daily, and make me feel as loved as can be even if I have never even met them! And, that is exactly what social media is for! When did we let it start having such a negative effect on ourselves when it can also bring so much positivity. It’s all in how we use it!
When you begin to build a community and relationships with other people on social media, it’s like a whole new world! I rarely find myself getting my feelings hurt by random, insignificant things I see on social media and I spend so much more time feeling a sense of connection and friendship.
The last thing that can really help change the way you feel about social media, is by using it as a platform to share your voice. You have so much to give and gosh dang it, someone out there needs to hear it! This can be the best part of social media, sharing your insights and opinions on important topics, like mental health, has potential to really help at least one person. And isn’t that enough in itself?
So one last thing before I go, I wanted to share these thoughts with you because I know how hard it can be to live in a world where social media is so prominent. I always want to be transparent about everything as I grow my platform, but truthfully sometimes I don’t even realize that I might not be! I have struggled with mental health for as long as I can remember, I have gone through some really rough patches but I can finally say that I am truly happy. That doesn’t mean I am happy all the time, but I have learned to cope with the lows and celebrate the highs! This, of course, has plenty of other factors at play, but since I’ve learned to practice healthy social media use, I feel so much balance and positivity from the apps that use to make me question my worth and my future. I can only hope that these tips might help relieve some of you from that burden.
ALSO as I was writing this I realized that all of these things can be applied to real life too!! In short, you never know what is going on in someone else’s life- no matter how well you think you know them! So comparison is impossible. Not to mention, that same person you’re comparing yourself to could very easily be feeling the same way about you. Focus on and celebrate the good in your life, it might just be what someone else is needing and thinks you are lucky to have!
The less you worry about every little thing, the more you will be able to focus on your relationships! Good connections and friendships are what really help us through life, but they can be hard to find when you’re focused on the wrong things.
Your voice is just as, maybe more, important in real life! Share the things you believe in, you could change a life! Speak up about what it important to you! Use your voice for good.