Sometimes we don’t notice it straight away. Sometimes it can take months of scrolling our feeds or following someone before it happens. Although at some point I am sure most of us (myself included) have left our phones with a well-exercised thumb from constant scrolling and head filled with thoughts like ‘why don’t I have the self control and determination to look like that?’ or, ‘why don’t I get my act together and just do this?’ or, ‘I’m never going to be able to do what she does’. We feel down and frustrated at ourselves and annoyed at others who appear to be succeeding.
The inadequate, not good enough feeling that comes from social media
Unless you’re aware of it, you might not notice these thoughts, but the feeling will rear its head as a sick feeling in your stomach that either drives you to curl up on the couch with a block of chocolate (because what’s the point anyway, you’re already feeling like a failure), or drives you to get out there and start doing something about it. Either way, these actions are driven by the fear of not being good enough which has likely evolved as a result of comparing yourself to others on social media.
When social media leaves ME feeling down, anxious or inadequate
In my line of work as a blogger, I find myself with these feelings probably once a fortnight, especially when I am tired. When I find myself feeling like this there are a few things that I do to reset and keep my thoughts and heart in check.
1. Guard what you put into your heart and mind
‘Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.’ Proverbs 4:23 (emphasis added). Your heart is the crux of who you are, you’re core being. It is where your hopes and desires live and is what connects with God and other people. God wants us to be aware of what we are putting in front of our eyes and filling our minds and hearts with because this will directly affect what we desire, the choices we make, the way we relate to others and the way we act. The eyes are a gateway to the soul. So we are told to make this a top priority above all else.
How can we practically guard our heart? A good way to do this is to take some time to rest and reflect. Be aware of what images and ideas you’re viewing on social media. Notice your thoughts that follow the viewing of these and then reflect on the truth of them or if they are something that is really going to be of benefit to you.
Remember, this isn’t a band-aid solution to only be used when we feel down. The verse uses the word ‘guard’ which is a verb, a ‘doing word’, an active word, that suggests we need to be doing this regularly. It can help to write this down in a journal if you find it hard to focus on or have clarity of thought.
2. Express how you feel to a friend
Sometimes, what is actually a benefit to us can become confusing. For example, you might think that following girls who are stick figures with abs will motivate you to work to look like that too. That’s fine if it does motivate you, but if you find your motivation comes from wanting their body because you dislike your own, is that really going to help you make changes long term? Or just whilst the fear is fresh, or until your new diet fails? If you find yourself confused about what’s helpful or not or are feeling inadequate after time on social media, give a friend a call and chat it through! Be open and honest. Often when you say your concerns out loud you realise how untrue they are which can help clarify the confused feelings you have.
Image by Inslee
If you don’t have a friend to chat to openly about this, why not try one of these free counseling phone lines call? They are there to help you no matter how big or small your concern is!
3. Be disciplined in implementing a plan for time spent on social media
Social media can be addictive because people use it to escape the reality in front of them, which releases endorphins. It’s important to consider how much time you want to spend on social media and stick this plan to the back of your phone, or on the fridge to remind you. For example, you might decide to spend 30 minutes on Facebook per day – 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. If you find it helps reduce your scrolling turn your phone on aeroplane mode, keep it in another room, or even delete the app for a time! If you’re not sure if you spend too much time on Facebook or Instagram, for one week keep a log each time you are on there. This will help you better analyse whether you spend excessive time there. I set limits on my social media time and it helps me be far more productive if I am not always ‘plugged in’.
4. Remember, content is created
Platforms like instagram and Facebook are filled with ‘content creators’, like myself. That’s the one thing I find easy to forget – the content is CREATED! It’s a craft. These photos and captions are fabricated with an intention in mind. They might reflect a part of someone’s life, but there’s been a little more time put into styling, selecting the best photo and editing that has gone into the publishing process.
5. Social media a small selection of someone’s life
Not only has content been crafted, social media can never capture 100% of someone’s life, which leaves us to construct the rest of someone’s reality based only on what we see on social media, which may be only 10% of their life.
So if you’re comparing yourself to someone online, then the chances are you’re comparing yourself to something that might not even be achievable or realistic all the time for the person who is posting this content. That is going to be very hard for YOU to live up to! Remember, no one likes to post ‘the bad stuff’ like eating a whole block of chocolate, or crying their eyes out at night, relationship struggles, etc.
6. Do some exercise
If you feel down from social media – take a break from it and get into the real world! It’s amazing the difference some exercise in the fresh air can make!
7. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself
It’s important to regularly do things that help you value yourself, but especially important to do when you feel down because it will help keep you positive and boost your confidence. For me, I enjoy having a pedicure, a bath, visiting my family, going to the beach or cuddling the dog.
8. Remind yourself how the creator of the universe sees YOU
God sees YOU as valued, loved, cared for – his precious masterpiece! How do we know this? We see it in his character. He left his throne and came into the world, taking on human form in Jesus Christ and paid the penalty that we deserved (death) for turning against his ways. God loves you so much and through Christ you are considered WORTHY and PERFECT just the way you are.