How To Deal With Your Dysfunctional (AF) Relationship with Social Media

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There was a time when social media was really simple. Do you remember that? Before it was a branding tool. Back when it was just an honest expression of yourself, and you didn’t have to build a strategy around how you want others to perceive you.

Now our self-confidence seems to be tied up in social media. Your amount of engagement and followers are not only a source of pride, but also business leverage. It literally pays to be liked. We’re constantly subjected to the very best aspects of everyone else’s lives, and it should come as no surprise that it takes its toll.

If you’re struggling with balance, or if social media is beginning to affect how you’re feeling about yourself, there are a few things that you can do to get things under control:

Unfollow brands/people who make you feel bad about yourself.

Inspiration is good, comparison is not. Unfollow anyone that makes you feel self-conscious, unconfident or insecure about your body, your abilities or your lifestyle. It has nothing to do with that person, and everything to do with your acknowledgement of how things make you feel and your ability to be honest about why you feel that way. It comes down to where you are developmentally in life. We experience things that are triggering at particular times due to our current circumstances or mindset, and it’s important to purge those triggers. At least until they are no longer harmful to your self-esteem.

Turn off your notifications.

Social media notifications help feed the dopamine addiction in our brain that creates the impulse to check these apps obsessively. The same can be said for your texts, emails and anything else that gives you that sudden rush of excitement when your phone chimes. The instant gratification that these notifications give us, or the disappointment when our phones are dry, have essentially turned our phones into our own personal Skinner boxes. We press a button over and over hoping for a reward and, even when our expectations are not met, we keep coming back for more.

Give yourself a social media allowance.

You don’t need to be on social media all day. It’s hard (I’ve instinctively checked my IG five times just while writing this), but—like with any addiction—it gets a bit easier after the initial withdrawal period. Whether you’re using your social media for branding or for fun, allocate specific times in your day for it and try to stick to that. Once you’re conscious of when you should or shouldn’t be scrolling through your feeds, it’s interesting how often you’ll catch yourself opening an app without even realizing it. It has become more about the act of scrolling than anything else, and it’s a waste of very valuable time.

Social media has a way of making us feel like we’re not doing enough. The irony in that is, we could be doing much more if we didn’t invest so much time building these cyber personas. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go dark and disengage completely. (Although it’s hella nice from time to time.) It just means we could all be a little more mindful of how we’re running our platforms, and how they’re running us.

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