Written by: Dr. Bunmi Aboaba, 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.
It might surprise you to know that Facebook is seventeen years old, and Instagram has been around for nine years. These social media platforms, along with others, are now ubiquitous in our everyday lives. As of January 2021, 78% of the UK used social media on a regular basis.
Like all media sources, social media platforms and the information shared on them substantially influence a person's behaviors, feelings, thoughts, mental health, and overall sense of well-being. As such, social media has been found to have a significantly negative impact in relation to a person's self-esteem, level of confidence, and body image, and relationship with diet and food.
So, what knowledge has this information given us?
Numerous studies demonstrate a correlation between regular, consistent social media use and the onset of negative body image issues. This is primarily because of the comparison factor which arises when viewing or scrolling through other peoples' posts, brand accounts, and images. The most common body image issues that arise from online comparisons include body surveillance, dysmorphia, dieting, excessive exercise or fitness goals, self-objectification, and eating disorders.
Body dissatisfaction can lead to dieting and disordered eating, which is often a precursor to an eating disorder. Eating disorders are highly complex mental illnesses that are caused by genetic factors as well as environmental factors and have the highest fatality rate of all mental health disorders. In addition, a poor body image can also be a risk factor for a variety of mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.
As a food addiction coach, I encourage all my clients to undergo a social media detox. This usually has a profoundly positive effect with an almost instant boost to self-esteem and confidence. Our perceptions of self-worth can be extremely fragile, and it is our responsibility to nurture and protect ourselves from harmful conditions. This includes our interactions while online.
Here are my top ten tips for detoxing your social media:
It is easier said than done but avoid going on autopilot. It is so simple to pick up our phones and start scrolling absentmindedly. Instead, ask yourself why you are on your phone, what you are trying to achieve, and if it's the best use of your time.
Focus on Real Friends
Social media is a fantastic way to stay in touch with friends and family, especially during the periods of lockdown we've had; however, social media cannot replace authentic communication. Use social media as a secondary tool and instead focus on seeing friends in person, making phone calls, or jumping on video chat. You will be sure to notice the difference.
Live in the Moment
Instead of constantly documenting your life or trying to take the perfect photo when out and about, put away your phone and focus on the beauty of the present moment. Mindfulness helps us be in touch with our thoughts and feelings, increasing joy and connection.