Is Social Media Bad For Your Health?
Here I am standing in the gap between where I really am and where I want to be. That is the reality. I can post my best photos and my best moments, but those are just highlights in between the average, mundane reality.
Sure, I am constantly working on my health, my nutrition, my marriage, my spiritual life and my own personal development but I am still so far away from my goal. And, in reality, the bulk of the day is not filled with non-stop blissful victories and photo opps. It’s far from glamorous.
Actually, most days would look more like those moments when you open your phone and it’s still on the forward facing camera, where your nose looks twice as big as it is and you have three chins.
The fact is, my life is filled with multiple failures (like the scary self-cam moments) between my tiny successful proud moments that are few and far between.
Most days I have to rack my brain for anything interesting to post. Quite honestly, most days there is NOTHING interesting to post. My days are simply filled with daunting tasks like washing dishes, paying bills, checking emails and just living all the not-so-interesting moments we all live day after day.
Not that this would shock anyone because I’m no celebrity or anything, but I think we forget that even our coolest most admired Facebook and Instagram friends have very messy imperfect lives just like we do and they are still very much a work in progress.
The Curse of Comparison
“The fastest way to kill something is to compare it to something else.” — Craig Groeschel
Sadly, with social media, blog sites and the ability to create a perfect image online, we are constantly surrounded by opportunities to compare ourselves to everyone around us; people who appear fitter, happier, richer, freer, holier, stronger, better.
That is not reality and we even know it. What we see online is just a “highlight ree;” of their reality, yet we still compare ourselves away. No wonder so many of us are stressed out and depressed.
The pressure to keep up and to post something interesting every day can be overwhelming. In addition, we have the added pressure of our post being “graded” with likes and comments. A post you worked really hard on can seem to bomb and not get the “approval rating” you had hoped, only to add to your list of daily fails.
My norm is filled with so many “oh crap” moments and those “dang it! I did it again” times. Between diet fails and meaningless petty arguments with my better half, I typically have many more fails than victories most days.
That is the reality behind my InstaLife and it’s the reality of everyone’s life, no matter how picture perfect it seems.
Even as a “fitness expert”, I fail time after time. I struggle to get to the gym, I don’t want to diet and I have countless grumpy, ugly moments. I may post my daily devotion but I don’t post those times I desperately want to skip church and hide out at home. I don’t share how I hit the snooze button 9 times before I finally got up (literally happened this morning). I want to do what is right, yet often find myself doing what I don’t want to do. (Sound familiar? Romans 7:15-20)
Most of us don’t post our dirty dishes or bathroom sink that is caked with soap scum, dust and hair. No way! We make sure we only post photos that are taken in the clean areas and we make darn sure we approve all photos posted online. Only the BEST gets posted right?
I think we need more blooper reels and less highlight reels. We shouldn’t be afraid to post failures. Just think of all the famous failures that inspire us today; from Henry Ford to Walt Disney. If we didn’t know their failures, we couldn’t appreciate their successes. And, more importantly, it would be better for our health.
We can eat healthy, exercise and even get enough sleep, and still be stressed to the max and completely unhealthy if we aren’t aware of how social media affects our mind and mental health.
It is a difficult time we live in where everything is photoshopped and filtered. We even apply fun filters to our candid shots to improve the way we look or to make the scene more appealing. Filters are just part of our life now.
Magazines were once the only main source of photoshopped images but now all images are improved so much you can hardly stand the way you look in the mirror because you are seeing the REAL YOU with all your flaws, as if we have forgotten what the real you looks like.
We need to make a change. We can’t change what is going on around us, but we sure as heck can change how we react to it. We need a mind shift. We need a massive reframing – a new way of looking at our world and a new way of looking at ourselves. We need it, our family needs it, our coworkers need it. We ALL need it because we are all subject to comparisons.
Reframing for Your Health
“Reframing your perspective when you’re looking at social media can also help your mental well being. It’s helpful to remember that the updates and the photos you see only tell one side of the story”, explains Dr. Craig Dike explains in his article How to Cope with Social Media Anxiety.
Steve and I actually have been studying reframing and just finished Craig Groeschel’s Mastermind series that teaches on this important life-changing technique. (Aaaah-mazing! I posted one of the videos below if you want to learn more!)
What is reframing?
Phycology Today says to reframe is defined as “placing something in a new frame.” When we change our point of view on any given situation, the facts remain the same, but a deliberate shift is made in how we see it.
This is something we ALL need to practice. Yes, practice. It’s not something we can just change overnight, like putting on rose colored glasses and forevermore seeing things differently. It will take regular practice and won’t be easy. However, if we can master this, I believe it can radically improve our life and health.
8 Ways to Have a Healthy Social Media Life
1. FIND YOUR SOUL PURPOSE – Follow people who are dedicated to helping you to be more beautiful on the inside, not just on the outside. Surround yourself, in real life and online, with the kind of person you want to be.
2. BE MINDFUL – Follow and engage with knowledgeable people who share educated guidance that makes you think, not just hot trainers or fitness enthusiasts showing off ridiculous exercises you could never do in a million years. It’s never healthy to constantly see something that is not within reach.
3. BE INSPIRED – Find like-minded REAL people you can relate to who inspire you to reach your goals. It’s the “average Joe” who has conquered all obstacles, not the genetically gifted ones, who can remind you of your true potential.
4. BE REAL – The more real you are online, the more real people you will attract. People will appreciate your authentic feed and you will attract people who aren’t scared toe be vulnerable and honest with you.
5. TAKE OUT THE TRASH – Maybe it’s time to start unfollowing unhealthy or negative feeds. Learn to recognize the signs of unhealthy thoughts following seeing certain people or posts. Click “unfriend”, “unfollow” or “hide” to clean up your feed.
6. GET SUPPORT – Join private support groups dedicated to providing high quality content to enhance your life. There are support groups for every passion. Explore them! You never know what you will find!
7. TAKE A BREAK – Don’t be afraid to go off the air. You can even let everyone know you are taking a social media break. People will understand. I just encourage you to word it in a way everyone reading it doesn’t think you are acting self-righteous, as if everyone else staying online is a loser. Be sensitive to how you come across but also be an example. Someone else may need to follow your lead and take a break too.
8. LESS IS MORE – Do you have too many social media platforms to manage? Are you in too many facebook groups? Do you check your feeds too often? Something’s gotta give. Maybe it’s time to find tune your social media responsibilities. Social Media is not unhealthy. In fact, it can simply be amazing! Many people’s lives have been radically enhanced and changed with the help of social media. It’s how we manage social media that can be unhealthy. Turn off notifications so you aren’t constantly getting updates and limit your time online. Maybe it’s even time to decide which platforms are most important to you and table the rest.
Change Your Filter
Check out Part 3 of Mastermind, where Pastor Craig Groeschel will show you how to reframe your situation, your story, and your relationships to thank God for what didn’t happen, pre-frame future experiences, and look for God’s goodness in every moment of your life. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it.
I always struggle with the snooze button sometimes so much that it never works at all