There are a million great things about social media, but I think we can all agree it has some annoying side effects. Think, for example, about how you feel after scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. If social media is affecting your self-esteem, you may start to believe everyone else's life is better, prettier, and more fun than yours.
That's why it's so important to monitor how social media makes you feel, and make sure you keep some healthy perspective — even though it is incredibly difficult. "Having a constant reminder of what our friends or acquaintances are up to is very overwhelming," says Kali Rogers, founder of Blush Online Life Coaching. "Always having to live up to our friends' vacations, houses, relationships, jobs, and adventures is daunting and, frankly, unhealthy. But that's what social media does to us."
If you feel like online life is getting you down, it can help to take a break. "Taking a break from social media allows you to reconnect with what is real," she adds. And it can help boost your self-esteem. Read on for some signs it may be time to put your phone down — if only for a little while — and get back to building up your confidence.
1. You're Using A Lot Of "I Should" Statements
Instead of being happy with how your life is currently, you might find yourself focusing on how you think it should be. As clinical therapist Lynn R. Zakeri, LCSW says, "Lots of 'I should' statements come out of our mouths. 'I should be thinner,' 'I should travel more,' etc." While it's OK to feel inspired by a friend's awesome vacation, take note if her photos make you feel like your life should be different.
2. You Can't Keep Things In Perspective
If your self-esteem is being affected by posts you see online, it might show up in some pretty unfair comparisons. (You might, for example, become convinced everyone is on a Hawaiian vacation but you.) "The key is to not compare yourself to anyone else, especially based on social media, as the picture they are painting is not a complete and accurate one," psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle.
3. You're Convinced Everyone Else Is More Successful Than You
Yes, people use social media to share their photos of Hawaii. But it's also the place to go to talk about job promotions and engagements. And that can really get to your head. That's why, as Martinez tells me, it's important to realize when your brain is filling up with negative self-talk. "Focus on your own successes," she says. And try to keep comparisons out of your head.
4. You Post And Then Live For Everyone's Reaction
There's nothing wrong with sharing a photo or thought online and hoping it makes an impact on your friends and fam. But posting just to get a reaction (or a ton of likes) can be a sign of lowered self-esteem. To feel better, self-love expert and coach Katie Kozlowski tells me it's important to take time for yourself offline. It may be difficult at first, but it's necessary if you want to get back to a healthier perspective.
5. You Feel Like You'd Die Without Your Phone
If your self-esteem is becoming too entangled with social media, then you'll likely be all sorts of attached to your phone. "If you can’t go five minutes without it, it’s time to practice a break and change that habit," Kozlowski says. Your confidence will thank you.
6. You Only Post Highly-Edited Versions Of Your Life
Hey, I love a Snapchat filter just as much as anyone. And it's more than fine to play around with filters and post photos you love. But take note if you simply cannot post a more "real" photo of yourself. "If it’s only selfies that are filtered and edited to look pretty, chances are you’re seeking validation and that is an unhealthy use of the social media tools we have access to," Kozlowski says.
7. You Don't Feel Satisfied With What You Have
Scrolling through Instagram shouldn't leave you feeling dissatisfied with what you have, Rogers tells me. If you find this happening more often than not, it can help to take a step back until you can re-appreciate your own life.
8. Your Mood Significantly Changes
Do you log into Facebook feelin' mostly OK, but sign off feeling kinda awful? If so, it may be a sign. "Additionally, if you recognize that you are 'beating yourself up' after viewing other's posts on social media, this could indicate that it's trigger you to have decreased self-esteem," says psychotherapist Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LCSW-C.
9. You No Longer Feel Inspired
If your self-esteem is doing alright, you'll likely view social media as a great source for projects, ideas, and inspiration. But if you aren't doing so well, you'll probs start opting out of participating, Florida-based psychologist Dr. Lori Ben-Ezra tells me. When this happens, it can help to switch over to a platform that's more inspirational (think Pinterest) instead of one that's comparison-based.
10. You Ask Your Friends For Reassurance
When self-esteem is affected, you'll likely start doubting all your decisions — including small things like what you post online. "You might start asking your partner or friend for reassurance or avoid posting about yourself in case others judge you as harshly as you judge yourself," psychologist Dr. Sarah Allen tells Bustle. Not a good sign.
11. You No Longer Feel Happy About Your Friends' Achievements
If your self-esteem is running low, it'll be difficult to find the strength to doll out compliments and congratulations. So take note if you "can't be bothered" when a friend posts about her achievements, Rogers tells me. If you don't feel happy for her, it's probably time to step away, take a break, and check in with your self-esteem.
Social media has a way of highlighting other people's successes, so don't be surprised if it all starts to get overwhelming. If you feel like it's taking a toll on your self-esteem, go ahead and take a break. It may be just what you need to feel better.
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