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Social media and self-care

A Young Champion talks about social media and how to practice self-care if negative feelings arise. 

Social media has become a big part of our daily lives. It can be used for keeping in touch with friends, seeing what your favourite celebrities are up to, finding a community of like-minded individuals and more, but it can also have a damaging effect on your mental health due to the culture of comparison.

Social media shows us beautiful people, people in perfect relationships and people achieving great things. This can lead to us comparing our lives to others and believing our life should be a certain way and when it isn’t we can begin to feel anxious and inadequate. These feelings can then lead to a number of things which can make us feel even worse.

Likes are an important element of social media, likes give us validation and make us feel good. More likes means more validation, less likes means less validation and pleasure. We have a certain expectation about how many likes we should get based on the likes of our previous pictures. If a picture we’ve posted doesn’t get the amount of likes we expected, we can feel upset and disappointed.

I have had my own struggles with social media, where I have felt inadequate and have compared different aspects of my life to strangers. At the time, I realised comparing myself was irrational, but it was hard to stop. So whenever I felt this way I would take a break and delete all social media apps off my phone. This allowed me to recognise all the things I’m grateful for in my own life that I had taken for granted. My last break unintentionally turned into a permanent break as I found myself not wanting social media back. Now, I rarely use social media and for me this has been beneficial.

When negative feelings arise, it’s essential to practice self-care. This can be practiced in a number of ways:

  • Understand that you’re setting yourself unrealistic standards. Social media isn’t always reality, the pictures and videos you see tend to be heavily edited. Everyone has insecurities that they don’t want the world to see so they don’t show them. The perfect lives depicted online aren’t the full picture – people only show the highs, not the lows.
  • Take a break from social media for a while. This can be up to a week or even a couple of months. During this break you can spend more time with friends or alone, perhaps taking up a new hobby or rewarding yourself.
  • You could also change what you engage with on social media, you could start following more realistic pages or accounts that help boost your self-esteem and make you happy.
  • You can also change your mindset. Instead of questioning why you don’t have someone’s life or the same things they have, see them as an inspiration for something you will have one day.

Social media isn’t all bad, there just needs to be a balance if you feel that your mental health is declining. Try practicing some of the tips mentioned above. These small changes can make a big difference.