As a generation, we have been both blessed and cursed with early and unlimited access to the internet. Research, entertainment, and even dating have been made easier and quicker to get our hands on.
It can seem like the whole world is at our fingertips – and yet, somehow, we never look up from our phones.
Life is not what’s happening on Facebook, or Snapchat, or any app – it’s the people you surround yourself with, the places you see, the air you breathe.
Scrolling through your newsfeeds can cause a variety of feelings – but many are negative. FOMO, jealousy, anxiousness, and inadequacy are all common ones.
Even a quick look at Pinterest for party planning ideas can leave you aching for natural artistic ability. Seriously, icing a cake is not a “piece of cake.”
Most of us are guilty of staging photos and only posting our best moments. Yet, somehow we allow ourselves to believe that others’ newsfeeds are a more accurate depiction of their everyday life.
Let’s explore why it’s important to unplug from your online life, and how to gain back some of your self-esteem, satisfaction, and gratitude.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste, and a negative one will hold you back from achieving your highest potential.
You can click to scroll ahead, we’re going to cover:
- We’re All Faking It
- Why Does It Matter?
- What Can I Do to Add Positivity Back Into My Life?
- Your Most Important Relationship
- Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Real Changes
We’re All Faking It
Did you post a selfie of when you first woke up this morning? Not likely.
But it’s possible you arranged your breakfast to look cute and took a photo. When the lighting was right, makeup applied, and you got your best side, then maybe a selfie was in order.
Did you post the photo expecting noone to like it? Did you leave out captions or hashtags so fewer people would see it? Again, not likely.
You may have even deleted it if it didn’t meet your “like” quota.
So why did you do that?
Did you post a selfie of when you first woke up this morning?
- You didn’t want anyone to see you at your worst.
But it’s possible you arranged your breakfast to look cute and took a photo.
- Because you wanted to create feelings of envy in your followers.
When the lighting was right, makeup applied, and you got your best side, then maybe a selfie was in order.
- You are only comfortable sharing your appearance at its absolute best.
Did you post the photo expecting noone to like it? Did you leave out captions or hashtags so fewer people would see it?
- Social media has conditioned us to crave approval, in the form of “likes,” “shares,” “retweets,” and “comments.” Each individual response triggers a feeling of success in our brains.
You may have even deleted it if it didn’t meet your “like” quota.
- You deleted a moment you thought would initiate responses, but found that it didn’t. A lot like telling a joke that no one laughs at. I.e. a failure.
Every single aspect of posting and interacting on social media is thus directly related to placing value on someone else’s opinion of you.
Let that sink in.
You have posted a filtered, narrated, scripted highlight reel of your life to the public, pleading for approval and affirmation of your worth.
Some of the lies are small – maybe you straightened up your desk for the photo, or you don’t actually eat your breakfast by the window.
But some are very big – intentionally angling your photos to alter your true physical appearance, or tagging yourself in a place you haven’t actually been to.
Sometimes the very frequency of your posts creates a narrative that isn’t entirely accurate, i.e. only posting while on vacation or at a restaurant. This is not a depiction of your everyday life.
You might be thinking, “but everyday life is boring!” And, in a way, it is. But the difference between your online life and your real life is everyday life.
The friends in your real life that see you when you first wake up, see you without makeup. They see you eat breakfast on the couch in your pajamas. You didn’t ask them to forget they saw you like that.
They have embraced you and grown to love you for the very ordinary person that you are.
Why Does It Matter?
Why does it matter if we’re all posting a stylized highlight reel of our lives, carefully rearranging and filtering our every moment into an Instagram-worthy photo?
Because we are creating feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem in every viewer that believes you somehow woke up that way and your breakfast magically fell into a pool of sunlight next to fresh flowers.
You may even be feeling inadequate that it took you so many tries to get the right photo!
Americans check their phones an average of once every 12 minutes – about 80 times each day – according to the NY Post. About 80% of young adults (18-24 years old) use social media sites such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
It’s possible that every 12 minutes, you are lowering your self-esteem or creating a feeling of stress for yourself.
Stress that is not properly managed can ultimately lead to:
- increased blood pressure
- heart disease
Stress can even influence how we view the world.
Even the time of day you check your phone may contribute to your emotional and physical woes. People who check their phones before bed lose more than an hour of sleep per night, compared to those that don’t.
What’s more is, the feelings of jealousy and inadequacy that we are creating, are damaging our relationships with the women in our lives.
We are competing with our friends, mentors, and peers for the most enviable lifestyle.
Instead of building each other up into the pillars of strength that we can be, we are tearing each other down out of perceived jealousies.
We can empower, encourage, and motivate each other if we choose to.
What Can I Do to Add Positivity Back Into My Life?
Smartphones and social media are extremely addictive.
Limiting your usage can be difficult at best. But to reconnect with the world around you, and your “real” life, there are several things you can add into your daily routine:
- Take time to focus on your mind & soul
- Meditation & Yoga
- Travel when possible
- Find activities that soothe stress for you
- Exercise to release endorphins
Life as a young person in the 2010s is busy and full. Many of us are working more than one job as we juggle student debt, family expectations, and societal pressures.
It’s easy to claim we are “too busy” and dismiss time for ourselves as a selfish luxury. But as you add these practices into your routine, allow them to take the place of checking your phone. You may have more free time than you realized.
For example: If you tell yourself that you are fat and disgusting, you may motivate yourself to lose weight.
- But will your weight loss ever be enough for you?
- Will you ever love your body?
- Are you going to find other things about yourself that don’t measure up and want to change those too?
- Will a few stubborn pounds or a less responsive area of your body always leave you disappointed?
Now consider this: If you respect your body enough to nourish it properly, reward it with exercise that strengthens it, and treat yourself with love and positivity – maybe it will respond with kindness.
Instead of weight loss being the only goal and sole focus, the overall health and wellness of your body is your main concern.
You are making changes that go far beyond a few pounds and extend to feeling a contentment with yourself that no stubborn belly fat can take away from you.
Have you ever let one little comment or criticism ruin your day? By taking responsibility for your emotions, you control the destiny of your day.
“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.” – Henry Ford
Tell yourself that you can do this. You can make changes. And don’t discount small adjustments.
Some of these changes may seem unattainable. Let’s talk about how to ease into a more positive outlook.
Take Time to Focus on Your Mind & Soul
It may sound selfish, but start making your Mind & Soul a priority in your life.
You may be a parent to a young child and be rolling your eyes right now. You barely have time to wash the dried pea puree out of your hair tonight, let alone take 10 minutes of “me” time to quietly reconnect with your inner self.
But if that “me” time increased your patience with your child, and allowed you both to share more smiles and laughs each day, wouldn’t it be worth it?
Let’s say you’re not a mom. You’re a woman working hard towards your next promotion, your next marathon, and planning 3 junior league events.
You may not be someone who cracks under pressure. But as the stresses pile up and each day is busier than the next, you are putting your body under intense pressure. Physically and mentally, you are exhausting yourself.
Personally, professionally, and physically, your body needs you to be thinking positively.
Everyone has different needs, and the way in which you grow positivity in your soul is unique to you. Perhaps you need a long bath, or inspiring music, or making lists to visualize your path.
But the first step to your success is finding the time – any time – and dedicating that time to your Mind & Soul.
Meditation & Yoga
For some people, this is going to sound very “hippie dippie.”
Meditation has certain connotations that conjure up images of trippy tapestries and incense burning while sitting cross-legged. Try to erase those from your mind.
Meditation can be as simple as sitting down alone with your coffee in the morning and closing your eyes for a few minutes. Allowing yourself several uninterrupted minutes to think about anything you want – your day, a vacation you’d like to take, someone you want to talk to later.
If possible, don’t put a time constraint on your meditation. Let it relax you and embrace the time away from a set schedule.
Keep your thoughts positive – don’t rehash things that went wrong yesterday or a fight you had with a friend – think in an uplifting manner.
Some days it may feel like nothing is going right. Maybe you’re late on your rent or you were just broken up with or you lost your job.
Even if all you have to start with is the smell of the coffee, the sunlight coming in your window, or the feeling of your favorite pajama shirt, focus on those.
When at a loss for positive thoughts, start with simply focusing on each breath, thinking, “in, out, in, out…”
Starting your day with meditation can set the stage for 24 hours of positive thoughts, but sometimes you miss the alarm or wake up sick.
Do not limit or punish yourself for not sticking to a schedule.
As meditation becomes a habit, add several minutes of it to different times of your day – lunchtime, a coffee break, after dinner, before bed.
Focus on even one thing that went or is going well – a colleague you find amusing, a meal you enjoyed, the timing of your favorite song coming on while you were in the car.
Yoga is a great tool of guided practice in stretching and strengthening your body while focusing on your breathing and positive thoughts. It is low impact and can be beneficial practiced at any level, from beginner to advanced.
There are all different kinds of yoga – slow and relaxed, fast-paced, focused on certain body parts. And whether you practice for 5 minutes or 90 minutes, you can begin to enjoy increased flexibility and clear-headedness.
Yoga can be added to any workout routine, whether you prefer running, swimming, or biking. It can be practiced anywhere, even in hotel rooms and airports, during any weather, and requires no tools or weights.
Travel Whenever Possible
There are many reasons to travel, but also many impediments that can discourage us. This is where the power of your positive thinking comes into play.
What is holding you back from travel? Do you consider driving 30 minutes to a park, “travel”?
If you are allowing yourself to be held back from traveling extensively because of your own reservations, such as relationship status or requiring high-end luxury resort accommodations to enjoy yourself, you are allowing your negative thoughts to dominate your travel experience.
Staying in a small apartment can force you out to enjoy the city around you for full days of exploration.
If air travel is not in your budget, ask yourself why only traveling on an airplane constitutes “travel.”
No matter where you live, you can travel short distances (sometimes on public transportation or on foot) and arrive at parks, streams, water features, or wooded areas that you can immerse yourself in.
All cities offer museums and installments.
Maybe you prefer the sound of waves on a beach, but you can learn to appreciate the calm of a lake or the quiet burbling of a brook.
Say yes to travel, and allow yourself to enjoy the small things in life – that perfect sunlight on a full tree, the smell of fresh cut grass, a butterfly passing by.
Be grateful that you can enjoy nature in all her glory.
Find Activities that Soothe Stress for You
Again, each person is different and everyone’s definition of relaxation will vary.
Some people need to be horizontal on a lounge chair with a drink in their hand. Others need to turn their phones off for 5 days. Still others need to make lists in order to organize their thoughts.
Do some soul-searching. When are you at your happiest?
Ask yourself this question on different levels – what makes you happy at home, on vacation, given monetary constraints, or when no budget can contain you. Sometimes small changes can affect your mood for the entire day.
As we get older, hobbies are harder to fit into our schedules, and can feel superfluous. Hobbies may or may not be the answer for you.
Perhaps the simple act of setting the coffee to brew in the morning (saving you time when you’re tired), or making the effort to eat dinner outside on a beautiful night, can help soothe you.
But if you enjoy things like painting, photography, knitting, or group sports – try to make time for those even once a week.
If you’re struggling to come up with something you enjoy doing, or you’re so lost in your current life that you’re losing your motivation, ask yourself this – what did you enjoy as a child or young adult?
Sometimes achieving a goal that you once had can be extremely rewarding.
Examine your entire day, and think long and hard about the aspects of it that caused you stress, discomfort, or anger. Some of these will be out of your control, like the driver ahead of you that caused you to miss a light and be late to work.
But you may find that many are in your control. You could have set your alarm 5 minutes earlier and not allowed one light to make you late.
If a coworker is making your life difficult, approach them or ask for a sit-down with HR to improve the relationship.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “you catch more bees with honey.” Approaching people with positivity, finding solutions to every problem, being kind and trustworthy – these are all free, and all choices you make – that will cause people to flock to you and appreciate you.
If a coworker flips out over a project, speak to them privately and calmly – is there personal stress in their lives that is affecting their mood and performance?
Once you stop thinking of yourself as a victim, and make yourself an active participant in your life, allotting time and effort to activities and practices that soothe stress – you may find that everyday of your life is pretty great.
Exercise to Release Endorphins
Depending on your current lifestyle, exercise may be a daily part of your routine, or it may have slipped to weekly or only occasionally.
If you’re falling into the weekly or occasionally category, ask yourself why exercise is not a priority for you.
In addition to the obvious and oft-touted physical benefits of exercise, releasing endorphins and easing stress through physical activity does wonders for your mental state.
If you “hate” exercise, maybe you just haven’t found the right type of exercise for you. Not many people love the stairmaster. Weight lifting in some gyms can be intimidating. When aerobics classes are full, it can diminish your enjoyment.
Pinpoint what it is about exercise that you “hate.” Then look for alternative answers that allow it to fit into your life.
Instead of wine night, ask your friends to join you on a walk around a park or lake. Keep a brisk pace, but not so brisk that you can’t chat and catch up.
Buy or rent a yoga DVD and try it in the privacy of your home, if the idea of embarrassing yourself in a class is a deterrent to you.
Find a local adults kickball league if you prefer a more social setting. If you have young children, do workouts that include them – lifting them up and down, squats while they’re on your shoulders, playing tag.
And it helps you sleep better! Even a few minutes of exercise each day can improve your outlook and boost your positivity. Losing a few pounds will become just a happy side effect.
Keep in mind that exercising obsessively or to achieve the “perfect body” will not improve your outlook or your mood.
There is no “perfect body” – some people prefer curves, others prefer big muscles, others think rail thin is the way to go – the only perfect body is the one that you love and respect.
Your Most Important Relationship
There are many people that you interact with each day – your family, friends, significant others, coworkers, neighbors, mentors, etc. – and their opinions will have varying degrees of importance to you.
When possible (again, you can’t control people), surround yourself with positive people that lift you up. Life will push you down – but your circle should not.
But the person you talk to the most, whose opinion should be of paramount importance – is yourself.
Would you maintain a friendship with someone that called you fat, put you down at every turn, insisted you could never achieve or amount to anything? I certainly wouldn’t.
Take a few minutes each day and express gratitude for your strengths. Make this a conscious habit!
Be grateful for legs that can carry you to work, a contagious smile, a quick wit, or your trustworthiness.
Everyone has strengths – if all you do is show up on time, you are responsible and reliable!
Stop discounting yourself.
Every time you have a negative thought about yourself, stop and remind yourself of 3 things you love about you.
Stop Making Excuses and Start Making Real Changes
Hopefully you are feeling inspired to put your phone down, get outside, and compliment yourself!
But as with any lifestyle change, you may need to ease into a more positive existence. Our habits, our circle, our jobs, and our schedules can all be hard to change.
Start by looking at the week ahead of you – where can you add in a little exercise? Can you schedule some time outside?
What makes you happiest – and when can you do that?
Look at each day (and even the day you’re in right now) – when can you take 3-5 minutes to close your eyes and think positively?
What are you grateful for today?
The next time that you feel the urge to pick up your phone and scroll through Instagram, think of something to research online instead – upcoming events in your town, trips you might want to take, where to find a walking trail.
Try not to log in to social media when you pick up your phone.
Maybe even go as far to delete the apps, so you have to login through a browser; this may deter you from logging in so often.
Over time, limit how much you pick up your phone. Use that time to quietly meditate instead.
As a second step, stop posting on social media – the good or the bad. Stop seeking approval for your life.
Have great news? Share it in a private message to those that matter most to you.
Stop comparing yourself to anyone else. Everyone is a work in progress.
The only photo you should be posting “goals” under is your own.
Which practice are you going to add into your daily life first? Let us know in the comments!