September Blog: The Dangers of Social Media

Social media is a dangerous place for recovery. Initially created as a way to keep friends up-to-date and connected with each other, unfortunately it is also a source of comparison. According to a recent study, the average young adult spends approximately five hours a day online. Triggering posts are littered across the internet and make it very difficult to find a safe space to heal.

Instagram, for example, showcases images and lifestyles that predominantly equate beauty, power and love with have a slim body. This, aided by the portrayal of women in the diet and fitness industries and our generational belief that we must live our “happiest” life everyday, advocates for an impractical idealized lifestyle (FYI, #nobaddays doesn’t exist).

Though Instagram encourages self-expression and a sense of community, it is still crowded with false realities. In fact, all social media platforms host false realities, and engaging with them while  recovering from a very realistic and damaging mental illness can be damaging to the healing process.

“All photos are accurate, none of them are the truth,”

shared Richard Avedon, an American fashion and portrait photographer.

When using the term “truth”, he was referring to the fact that the emotions felt about any photo depend on your particular frame of mind at that moment in time. So, if you are having a bad self-esteem day, your perception of what is beautiful or favoured may be altered. You must ask yourself: whenever you see a new post on your feed, are you being objective or subjective?

Browsing social media makes it easy to be discouraged and feel confused about your self-worth. Here are some tips to help avoid triggering photos:

  1. Unfollow negative accounts: The first step to avoid triggers on social media is to take away any temptation. If an account doesn’t support your recovery, unfollow it. Purge yourself of any content that may be toxic for you. Facebook now offers the option of temporarily hiding people’s accounts and you can also “mute” profiles on Instagram.

  2. Follow body positive information: There are many accounts that promote healthy body image and recovery. Filling your feed with positive messaging can help to give you inspiration and look at things differently.

  3. Take a social media break: Sometimes you just need a breather. It can be helpful to download an app that temporarily locks your social media accounts. You can also set time limits and temporarily suspend them without losing your account, so you can have space to recover without having to give it up entirely.

  4. Have a plan: Mistakes happen. That’s why having a plan on how to de-stress and reset your mindset after seeing a triggering post is important.  Whether it is calling a friend, going through breathing exercises or simply taking a minute to shut everything off, having a plan can help you  alleviate stress.

  5. Ask for help: Ask a friend to be there with you for when you decide to re-enter the world of social media. There is nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. Having someone there to support you can be encouraging and helpful during this process.

Overwhelming? We know. Social media can be exciting and addictive.. But it  can also sabotage your recovery. You deserve more true, “self-defined” happiness, versus being bombarded with others’ definitions, and images,  of superficial happiness.

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