Body Image, Self-Esteem, and Social Media

We've all done it. You get on Instagram and you see a post from somebody you follow. Maybe it's a friend, an acquaintance, somebody you met once at a party, or a celebrity. You start to feel a little jealous and insecure. Maybe their winged eyeliner is perfect, maybe they appear slender, or maybe they snapped a picture with a significant other. Whatever the content, you may begin to judge yourself or compare yourself to this person. 

This happens all too often and to many of us. Social media is the perfect platform to show all of our friends how great our lives are. What many of us don't share, however, is the reality of our lives. Most of us don't share when we don't get the promotion, when we fail a test, or when we just had an all around bad day. 

Can we really compare our lives to the posts we see on social media? Social media is a great way to keep in touch with loved ones, friends, and keep up with current events. It also isn't real. Sure, the events in the picture probably actually happened but the person in the photo has many parts of their life that they aren't sharing. 

When we post a photograph or a status on social media, likes typically follow. Most of us get excited and feel validated when we get a high number of likes and some of us feel poorly about ourselves when we yield a lower number. While seeking for validation online, we often miss out on the real world things happening around us. Let's say you're out with some friends and post a picture of all the fun you're having. Are you missing out on having even more fun because you keep checking your phone, looking out for notifications and likes?

One way to battle the social media blues is to regulate the amount of time you spend on your apps. Having a set time to put your phone away each night is an effective way to regulate your social media use. Putting your phone in your purse or your pocket when you're spending time with loved ones is another useful strategy. 

Utilizing mindfulness is helpful when dealing with this sort of situation. Mindfulness is a school of thought that encourages being mentally present in the moment and paying attention to the world around you. Focusing on the present moment and what's happening in the here and now is a good way to reduce excessive social media scrolling. Adult coloring books are a popular recent trend that have roots in mindfulness. 

The take home message is to remember that comparing yourself to others on social media is typically a fruitless endeavor. Your life is awesome, unique, and special with or without social media.

Emily Teegarden