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Mastering Digital Wellness – Balancing Social Media, Self-Esteem, And Contentment

Written by: Laurie Bedard, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Laurie Bedard

In an era defined by connectivity, social media has woven itself seamlessly into the fabric of our lives. From sharing personal milestones to staying informed about global events, these platforms offer unprecedented avenues for communication and self-expression. Yet, beneath the glossy filters and seemingly endless stream of content lies a complex relationship between social media, self-esteem, and contentment that warrants exploration.

person taking photo of a woman on a outdoor cafe

In my personal life, I have noticed the pull down the slippery slope of comparing myself to my friends and family. Beautiful vacation photos, family gatherings, promotions, cottage life, and retirement seem to be what catches my eye lately. Then the questioning begins. Am I as successful as my friends? Am I as happy, as content in my place in life. Do I measure up?


I also notice the influence of social media in the discussions I have with my clients. Much of how they feel about themselves stems from how they position their lot in life with others on Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. The same questions I have in my personal life, pop up with my clients. The questions circle around two main questions. Am I enough for this life? Is this life enough for me?


As we scroll through our favorite apps, the images and stories that flood our screens can evoke emotions ranging from inspiration to envy, admiration to insecurity. The allure of the digital image, often adorned with filters and captions that tell a carefully crafted story, can paint a misleading portrait of reality. A virtual world where perfection reigns supreme, social media can inadvertently become a breeding ground for comparison, subtly shaping our perceptions of self and others.


The allure of the digital image


In an age where social media has become a platform for visual storytelling, the allure of the digital image is undeniable. Individuals curate their online personas, carefully selecting images, captions, and filters that project a specific narrative. Myself included. While I aim to be authentic in my online presence, I do tend to leave out the periphery, less attractive aspects of my life, as most of us do. These carefully orchestrated portrayals often emphasize the highlights and positive aspects of life, creating a perception of an idealized reality.


This phenomenon, while not inherently negative, can lead to a distorted view of both oneself and others. Comparisons naturally arise when faced with a steady stream of seemingly perfect lives, experiences, and achievements. The images and stories we encounter can inadvertently foster feelings of inadequacy as we measure ourselves against these seemingly flawless depictions.


The self-esteem paradox


Social media platforms offer immediate feedback in the form of likes, comments, and shares. While this interaction can provide a sense of validation and belonging, it can also become a potential source of anxiety and stress. The quest for validation through online engagement can lead to a cycle of dependence, where one's self-worth becomes intrinsically tied to the number of likes or positive comments received.


The contentment challenge


The Fear of Missing Out, or FOMO, is a psychological phenomenon amplified by the digital age and social media. As individuals scroll through their feeds, they encounter snapshots of friends, acquaintances, and influencers engaging in exciting experiences, travels, parties, and achievements. The constant exposure to these activities can evoke a sense of inadequacy and anxiety about missing out on life's adventures.


FOMO operates on the assumption that everyone else is having a more exciting, fulfilling time than oneself. This perception can fuel feelings of comparison and discontent. While social media platforms aim to connect us, FOMO highlights the gap between our real lives and the idealized depictions we see online.


To balance the daily bombardment of information and digital storytelling that can seep into our unconsciousness and slowly gnaw away at our feelings of contentment and being enough, there are some habits we can cultivate. The following are simple yet effective strategies to we can all use to keep ourselves centered and in full awareness of the pros and cons of scrolling on our favourite social media platforms


1. Rediscovering the present: Strategies for cultivating mindfulness and contentment in a digital age


Amidst the constant stream of notifications and updates, the art of being present can easily fade into the background. Mindfulness, however, is a powerful tool to counteract the distractions of the digital age. Mindfulness involves grounding oneself in the present moment, fostering awareness of thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment.


As I mention in the article Exploring Somatic Therapy – 3 Somatic Exercises To Improve Wellbeing And Mind-Body Connection, mindful practices, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and sensory awareness, can help individuals regain control over their attention. Engaging in activities without the interference of electronic devices, like taking a nature walk or practicing a hobby, encourages a deeper connection with the real world.


Cultivating contentment involves appreciating what's in front of you rather than seeking constant stimulation. Practicing gratitude by acknowledging small joys and achievements can shift the focus from comparison-driven discontent to a more positive outlook on life.


In essence, combatting the effects of FOMO and nurturing contentment necessitates a deliberate shift of focus. By embracing mindfulness, engaging in offline activities, and practicing gratitude, individuals can regain a sense of agency over their experiences, fostering a healthier relationship with social media and a greater appreciation for the present moment.


2. Nurturing positive digital habits


The content we consume on social media significantly influences our perceptions and emotions. Curating your feed to align with your values and aspirations can lead to a more positive and empowering online experience. Unfollow accounts that trigger negative feelings of comparison or inadequacy, and instead, follow accounts that promote authenticity, body positivity, and personal growth.


Seek out content that resonates with your interests and passions. Engage with communities that uplift and support you. By surrounding yourself with content that fosters positivity, self-acceptance, and personal development, you can reshape your digital landscape to align with your well-being goals.


3. Digital detox: The benefits of stepping back from social media to improve mental well-being


Taking periodic breaks from social media, also known as a digital detox, can have profound benefits for your mental well-being. Constant exposure to online content can lead to information overload, stress, and even feelings of inadequacy due to constant comparisons.


Designate specific times or days for a digital detox. During this time, disengage from social media platforms, emails, and other digital distractions. This practice allows you to reconnect with the present moment, engage in offline activities, and recharge your mental and emotional energy.


4. Developing media literacy: Encouraging critical thinking and awareness of digital manipulation


Media literacy involves the ability to critically evaluate the information presented in digital media. With the proliferation of fake news, misinformation, and digitally altered content, developing media literacy skills is crucial for navigating the digital landscape. Question the authenticity and sources of information, and verify before sharing or internalizing content.


Teaching media literacy to yourself and others promotes a discerning mindset. Understanding that online content can be manipulated or skewed helps you approach social media with a healthy dose of skepticism, enabling you to make informed decisions and avoid falling victim to misinformation.


5. Practicing self-compassion: Strategies for building a strong sense of self, irrespective of online validation


Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a close friend. In a digital world that thrives on likes and comments, practicing self-compassion becomes an essential strategy for building resilience against the pitfalls of seeking online validation.


Remind yourself that your self-worth isn't determined by the number of likes or followers you have. Focus on your personal growth, accomplishments, and the qualities that make you unique. Treat yourself with patience and empathy, and celebrate your journey without the need for external validation.


The pursuit of a harmonious coexistence with social media platforms and technology demands a deliberate commitment to fostering constructive digital habits while fortifying one's resilience in the ever-evolving digital landscape. As we navigate the intricate terrain of the digital age, it becomes evident that shaping our online experiences to align with our well-being requires a blend of conscious effort and unwavering self-awareness.


Final thoughts


Just as we arrange our physical spaces to reflect our values and aspirations, we must similarly tailor our digital spaces to nourish our mental and emotional health. This involves carefully selecting the content we consume, gravitating toward uplifting and enlightening sources that empower us rather than drain our self-esteem.


However, fostering a holistic relationship with social media and technology isn't solely about what we consume but also about the intentional moments of disconnection we carve out. Much like a musical composition, life requires pauses and rests to give meaning to the notes in between. By deliberately embracing digital detox breaks, we gift ourselves the opportunity to rejuvenate, reflect, and reconnect with the tangible aspects of existence that anchor us.


As the digital landscape swells with information, misinformation, and everything in between, a shield of media literacy becomes an important tool. Developing the critical skills to discern fact from fiction, to differentiate between sensationalism and objective reporting, empowers us to navigate the vast sea of online content with clarity. This literacy, coupled with a discerning mindset, ensures that we're not passively shaped by the digital realm but actively shaping our experience within it.


By conscientiously cultivating these practices—curating our digital environment, embracing digital detox, honing media literacy, and practicing self-compassion—we pave the way for a symbiotic relationship with social media and technology. This multifaceted approach not only safeguards our self-esteem but also bolsters our overall well-being, fostering a more harmonious equilibrium between the digital world and our analog reality.


Remember, your mental health matters. Take the time to prioritize it in the digital realm just as you would in the physical world. With conscious effort and a commitment to self-awareness, you can navigate the digital landscape with confidence, contentment, and resilience.


Start your journey today and discover the transformative power of mindful digital engagement. Your well-being deserves it.


Share your thoughts and experiences with us as you embark on this journey. Connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram and let's continue the conversation. Together, we can create a more mindful and balanced approach to life in the digital era.


If you’re looking for online one on one or group therapy for a variety of mental health issues including; anxiety, depression, trauma, symptoms manifesting from childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault and live in Canada can book an appointment here.


Those interested in booking a 1, 2, or 3-hour workshop covering a variety of mental health topics can send inquires here for more information.


Follow LJB and Associates Counseling Services and Laurie on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, and visit her website for more info!

Laurie Bedard Brainz Magazine
 

Laurie Bedard, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Laurie Bedard is an experienced educator, certified clinical counselor, and the founder and director of LJB and Associates Counselling services. LJB and Counseling services is a private practice that offers individual counseling, psychoeducational workshops, and co-facilitates neuroscientific mental health retreats in Mexico and Portugal with Anna Li, CEO of Healing Journey Retreats.


As a survivor or childhood sexual abuse, Laurie suffered with anxiety and depression for most of her young life into adulthood. She has devoted her teaching and counseling career to creating a safe space for her clients and/or students to be who they are.


An introvert and deeply introspective, Laurie connects to her spirit and makes sense of the world through her writing. Apart from being an executive contributor with the online magazine Brainz, she writes The Psych Prof blog, and is a contributing author to the book BROKEN: Women Breaking Ancestral Chains and Generational Cycles to Create a Brighter Future Themselves and Their Families


When she isn’t counseling, teaching or writing, you can find her hanging out with her husband and 5 grown boys, snowboarding or hiking.


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