When scrolling on social media, have you ever found yourself thinking, “Man, I wish I had that (insert any desirable object or feeling) in my life” or “I wish my body looked like that”?
Social media can breed comparisons to people you know or, most commonly, to strangers. People like highlighting curated lives, idealizing body images, and posting about material possessions and lifestyles. It’s easy to compare ourselves to each post for each account, especially if there are thousands of accounts or influencers we follow.
Imagine the build-up of those feelings of comparison at the end of the day. Think about what that does to our mental health. This article outlines the possibility of developing healthy habits and perspectives to mitigate the negative effects of comparison via social media.
Recognize the highlight reel effect
People showcase the best aspects of their lives on social media. It’s important to understand that what you see on social media is often an idealized version of reality and doesn’t represent the full picture of someone’s life.
The person posting may never reveal the truth behind their curated posts. It’s up to us to realize and understand they are also human, who possess flaws and are not perfect, regardless of what it may seem like on their social media accounts.
Limit your exposure
Consider reducing the time you spend on social media platforms. Constant exposure to other people’s curated lives can intensify feelings of comparison and inadequacy. Set boundaries by allocating specific periods for social media use or taking regular breaks. Ask yourself, “What am I getting out of this? Does this benefit me by scrolling for longer than 20 minutes?” Check-in with yourself after a certain time, or set a timer if you desire to “check out” of reality by scrolling.
Curate your social media feed
Take control of your social media experience by curating your feed. Unfollow or mute accounts that trigger negative emotions or perpetuate unhealthy comparisons. Instead, follow accounts that inspire and uplift you, focusing on content that aligns with your interests and values.
Again, check in with yourself when you begin to feel negative emotions. It’s okay to unfollow or mute certain accounts, even if they are an acquaintance or friend in real life. Give yourself permission and regain your power – it’s your account, after all!
Be mindful of your emotional reactions when using social media. Notice how certain posts or content make you feel and identify any comparison patterns. Developing self-awareness will help you recognize when you’re being negatively impacted and allow you to take steps to address it.
Celebrate your achievements
Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your progress and accomplishments. Celebrate your milestones, big or small, and remind yourself that everyone’s journey is unique.
Cultivating a sense of self-worth independent of social media validation is essential. After you’ve taken a moment to recognize your accomplishments, set your phone down and take some time to be outside, away from social media.
Engage in offline activities
Balance your online presence with offline activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Invest in hobbies, exercise, spending time with loved ones, or pursuing personal growth.
You can cultivate a more well-rounded and fulfilling life by shifting your focus away from social media. You don’t have to post about this process; it can naturally happen without anyone watching.
If social media comparison is causing significant distress, consider talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional. Call our office to connect with a therapist; they can provide guidance, support, and perspective to help you navigate and cope with these feelings.
Feeling comparative thoughts is normal, yet they don’t have to linger and cause distress.
Social media is just one aspect of life, and it’s crucial to maintain a healthy perspective. By implementing these strategies, you can minimize the negative impact of social media comparison and create a healthier relationship with these platforms.