social media and self-esteem. Why not take a break?

A recent study from York University has found that women who stop using social media, even for just one week, receive a significant self-esteem boost in return.

It’s believed the compare and despair cycle, familiar to all who use social media apps, can send even the most robust self-esteem plummeting through the floor. Even if you’re usually sisterly and completely uncompetitive, you’ll probably still find yourself checking out how you measure up. Because scientists have found that comparisons are made instantly, automatically and without intention.

So, if your self-esteem is in need of a long lasting and sustainable boost then coming off social media could be the right choice for you. In fact some people say it’s life altering. But it may not be easy. Behavioural changes are often the hardest to make. Partly, because the dopamine kick that comes with counting new likes and spotting new content can be addictive But also because it means breaking a habit that’s become entwined in our every day life. Who hasn’t found themselves mindlessly flicking though Facebook to pass the time? So to save you the trouble, I’ve rounded up the best tips to help you give up social media and improve your self-esteem.

Tips to manage social media and self-esteem

1. You don’t need to go cold turkey
If you’re around my age you’ve probably been active on social media since around 2007. That’s 17 years and a lot of likes and selfies. Going cold turkey can seem an overwhelming task. And the irrational worry that we might miss out on a major announcement can also keep us active on the apps. To assure yourself that this won’t be the case, it can be best to log out for a week at a time. One week on, one week off. This means you won’t miss anything important. And time away, can open your eyes to the content you’re consuming. And make you aware of the feelings you have while consuming it, which takes me to my next point.

2. It’s inauthentic, and you deserve more
Time away from the constant churn of social media post can allow you to see the content you consume with greater clarity. And what you may notice is any/all of the following…

The performative posts: If there’s an audience there has to be a performance. And some people seem to feel the pressure to present a life they don’t actually live. Sunsets at Santorini, pouting poolside in a cut away bikini and writing in a way they never, ever talk. E.g. “Y’all I’m going to get me some new threads.” Social media really gives us no authentic clue as to what’s going in in someone’s life or how they’re feeling. It just makes you a spectator at their performance.

The hyperbole:
Have you got friends who are #blessed? Have their “two worlds collided” just because their husband came to watch them play netball on a Thursday night? It’s all cringe inducing nonsense, to convince other people of how special their life is.

Once you take a week’s break from social media, you’ll see both how prolific, and grating, the quality of life exaggeration is.

The advertising:
It’s non-stop and specifically targeted to highlight your insecurities and then sell you a product to soothe them.

Woman with brown hair in a long bob, wearing a terracotta coloured top, sitting on a sofa reading a book and smiling.

3. Think what else you can do with your precious time
One of the interesting by-products of the York University study was how participants spent their time when they were on their social media sabbatical. The most frequently mentioned activities were, “texting friends, talking to friends on the phone, watching TV or movies, reading, studying, being outdoors, exercising, journaling, and getting more sleep.”

All of these activities are way more edifying, and fulfilling then endlessly scrolling Facebook.

So if you want better self-esteem, or more genuine pleasure in life, then step away from the socials and text a friend instead.

If you’ve successfully given up social media, then I’d love to hear how you did it. Please comment below.

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