Roughly 18 months ago, I was in that “fitness insta” game. You know. The daily selfie to prove you’ve worked out. Making sure you’re up-to-date with the latest hashtags, the latest brands, the latest events. I called it “Dream Work Win” – punchy, motivating, inspiring – or so I thought. Yet, ironically, I was exhausted and miserable where Insta was concerned, and I didn’t even realise it.
I think, in many ways, it kind of ruined two of my biggest passions – running and strength training. Instead of it being “my time” where I could zone in on the workout and zone out on, well, life.. I was instead thinking about creating good enough content from my surroundings, making sure I hit a “good enough” PB that I could shout about.
No wonder it’s esteem shattering when we are coming from a place of feeling that whatever we have to say might not be good enough.
Whilst I still update my blog and Insta-post about my running, it’s coming from a less competitive mental space and it is a more honest and raw account of my experiences. If I have a shit run, I’ll bloody well tell you about it.
Taking on social media, this unavoidable chunk of our daily lives, in a more healthy way has been a necessity for me – and for the people around me too. So I thought I’d share a few pointers that could help YOU have a more healthy relationship with social media…
As mentioned above, I now post with more “realness” and more authenticity than I ever used to. It’s a bigger challenge than you might expect, to be open with the world about your true personal accounts, and your true thoughts and opinions on things. But when you show up to social media in this way, it encourages you to show up to the world more authentically when you’re offline too. There is great strength in accepting that we are enough as we are, that our experiences are enough as they are (even the bad gym sesh!), and that we don’t have to put on a show for anyone.
Schedule Your Social Media Time.
Scrolling through insta is like a time-portal. One moment you’re fresh out the shower, scrolling through insta at 8pm, then you happen to glance at the time and it’s 9pm and you don’t know where that time went. It’s scary isn’t it. We all do it. Trying to limit my “insta sessions” to 15 minute time slots throughout the day has helped me avoid this. I actually enjoy those 15 minutes more too.
One of the reasons we are so addicted to social media is because it makes us feel connected. If we’re looking to spend less time on social media, on a whole, then we should be looking to replace that with some “real life” connections with people. Phone calls, coffee meets, meeting for a run (maybe that’s just me!). It sounds like a sweeping, generalised statement to say “replace social media time with real life connections”, but trust me, it works.
If cold turkey is gonna work best for you, but you just can’t resist the pull of the ‘gram, then why not just delete the app? Of course, you could always re-download it, it’s not gone forever, but at least it would make it seem more of an “effort” to check which could put you off scrolling quite so often.
For those actually trying to do Insta “the right way”, you know, posting at optimum times etc… why not just schedule your posts? Latergram and Hootsuite are just some examples of really handy apps that let you create your content when you actually have the time, but schedule them for your “optimum” time to post. At least you don’t have to then be on your phone at all times.
Be Selective About Who You Follow.
I cannot stress this one enough. When I was amidst that fitness-insta world, I was following some bloody gorgeous women with incredibly strong bodies. There is nothing wrong with gorgeous women with strong bodies, and I am now in a much better mental space where I am not comparing myself to these women (because I’ve realised that I am enough in my own right). BUT, if you still have a pretty long way to go in your own self-esteem-building journey, try to remove anyone from your feed who makes you feel inadequate in any way shape or form. This doesn’t have to be from a body image/aesthetic perspective either – unfollow those who make you feel like you might not be socialising enough, lifting enough, working hard enough, running enough, travelling enough… whatever it is that makes YOU feel inadequate – remove it!
I think an important thing to remember is that social media is meant to add to our lives, not make us feel shitty about them. If you really feel like it’s having a negative toll on your mental wellness, why not take a break?
Then when you’re ready to come back, use the tips above to make it a space that you can show up to truly, authentically, without competition or judgement.