Tips on Using Social Media in a Healthy and Realistic Way

Sometimes, it feels like we live in a world that is so immersed in social media. You may have grown up before social media took off and infiltrated everyone’s lives. When you were younger, you played outside, drank from a hose and spent time communicating with people in person. Nowadays, it feels like those ways of socializing are a bit old fashioned. Youth are now thrown into the world of social media at an early age. As a result, these young people grow up basing their opinions, self-esteem, and confidence heavily on their online persona and who they follow. Although, in our present day, it’s not just younger populations who are online constantly. You probably know many people of all ages that maintain social media profiles. I know a few friends who have given up social media entirely! 

Social media can be wonderful in many ways. For example, it allows people to connect with long-lost friends, keep up with people they don’t usually see, share their photos/opinions with the world, and even garner influence if the algorithm is on their side. However, social media can bring unhealthy habits and feelings. One significant effect is that social media can harm our self-esteem. This harm is inflicted when we compare ourselves to not only the models and influencers but our friends who post only their perfect lives that we see online. Facetune and photoshop are very alive on platforms used for sharing pictures- this gives people unrealistic body standards and makes them feel bad about themselves if they don’t reach these expectations. People also find themselves having FOMO and feeling like their lives are not as exciting or successful as the people they follow. 

Social media/the internet are huge parts of our lives, and their presence and power don’t seem like they will decrease any time soon. Since most of us are all online so much, especially because the pandemic made most workers and students go remote, we should get used to practicing healthy habits on the web!

Following Accounts that Make Us Feel Good About Ourselves

One important thing to do while on social media is to follow accounts that make you feel happy or inspired. If you dream of becoming a photographer, follow accounts that post beautiful and meaningful photos. If you need some positive vibes, look up hashtags and accounts that promote good energy and encouragement to its followers. You are in charge of who you follow – why not make your FYP or timeline a mood board of all things you love and admire?! 

Connect with your family and friends online. This will cause you to see photos and posts of people you genuinely care about. They will interact with your posts, as well, and show love on your account.

Unfollowing or Limiting Certain Accounts 

Here is your reminder for the day: unfollowing or muting people online is not mean!

At the end of the day, you have to put your mental health and well-being first. If you follow someone who makes you feel bad about yourself or where you are in your life, it is OK to distance yourself from them. If you think unfollowing is too permanent of a decision, try muting the account when they post photos and their stories. This way, you can take a break from seeing their photos, and eventually, if you feel better in the future, you can decide to unmute them.

Encouraging Ourselves and Saying Positive Affirmations

It is essential to build your confidence and boost your self-esteem. Speaking kindly to yourself and replacing the negative thoughts with positive affirmations can help. If you are scrolling on social media and you start feeling bad about yourself, try these positive affirmations:

  • I am not going to compare my real-world life to someone else’s highlight reel
  • I am enough and deserve to enjoy my life
  • I am in control of my emotions, and my feelings matter
  • I am thankful for my body and all it does for me
  • I am special and unique in my own way
  • I am full of beauty and worthiness

Reminding Yourself that Social Media Is Not Always Real (like 99% of the time)

Social media is a place where people post their best, most successful moments. Someone will post on LinkedIn about the new job they just accepted but won’t share the 100s of applications they sent out and got rejected. Couples will post photos of themselves kissing and looking happy but won’t show the break-up texts they just sent each other last week before they got back together. This isn’t to say that people never post real moments online, but it shows that there is usually something more going on behind the scenes of a seemingly perfect profile – and that is normal!

No one’s life is perfect, and that is OK! Humans are not perfect; we are complex beings with many highs and lows we face each day. If you feel upset because you are unemployed or single, try not to fret! You will never miss out on what is meant for you. Your plan is unfolding in your own way and time!

Putting Our Phones Down and Living in the Moment

I challenge you to look at your screen time statistics on your phone right now! You may be shocked to see how much time you spend on this digital device. Try to put your phone down more often and live in the moment. Talking to people in-person, reading a book, eating lunch in the park surrounded by nature, or going for a walk are all beautiful and enriching activities! Instead of going on social media for an hour, you can try a new hobby like painting or creative writing. Lastly, make sure you move your phone charging station away from your bedside table. Instead move it to an entirely separate room of your house so in the morning you don’t grab for your phone first thing. The opportunities of what you can do are endless!

Repeat this saying to yourself: I am putting the phone down to pick up my abundant, fulfilling life. 

Your life is so precious and all the moments in it matter! Don’t waste your life scrolling and liking pictures of everyone else’s. Make your own memories and follow what makes your heart happy! You deserve it.

Jackie Caputo, LMFT in Woodland Hills, CA | Therapy for Anxiety and Depression in Woodland Hills

About the Author

Jackie Caputo is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who provides therapy in Woodland Hills, CA. She also provides online therapy to individuals throughout the state of California.