President Theodore Roosevelt famously warned that “comparison is the thief of joy,” but little could Teddy have known what we would face in the 21st Century. Spending time on social media – and more specifically, engaging in comparisons with what we see on social media – has become a major part of our lives. The tendency to compare ourselves to others is powerful; in fact, researchers have found that comparisons make up an estimated 12 percent of daily thoughts!
Scrolling through your Facebook feed can understandably make you wonder how every friend balances a happy family life and successful career while routinely vacationing in exotic locales. Yet regardless of the social media network used, comparisons can affect our mental health in surprisingly profound ways. Another recent study titled “Online Social Networking and Mental Health” found that prolonged use of social networking sites can be associated with decreased self-esteem, depressive symptoms and increased body shame.
In short, the social media comparison game makes us unhappy with what we have because it doesn’t measure up to the perception of what we see other people have around us. So how do you avoid the comparison trap? Here are some tips from a licensed therapist.
- Know and avoid your triggers. Is there a particular friend who causes you to feel inferior? Are there certain groups you should avoid? Unfriend or stop following people who bring on feelings of comparison, despair and envy. Work to ensure social media is contributing positively to your life.
- Reduce time spent on social media. Designate a reasonable amount of time per day that you will spend on social media (no more than 20 minutes a day). This can be challenging because many of us use social media to pass time when we’re bored or nervous. As an alternative to social media use, try taking a class to learn something new, getting together with a friend or going on a date.
- Think about why you’re making comparisons. Often, we make comparisons because we are insecure about certain aspects of our lives. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others in ways that make you feel bad, determine how you can make positive changes in these areas. For example, consider working with a therapist to make behavioral changes and a plan to address the underlying issues that cause negative feelings.
- Compare yourself to yourself. It’s not fair to compare your life to other people’s carefully curated lives as presented on social media. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is you! Are you making progress in your personal life and career? Do you express gratitude for what you do have rather than dwelling on what you feel is lacking?
Make Positive Changes With Support From Sound Mind Therapy
Do you feel social media use is contributing to feelings of anxiety, depression and poor self-esteem in yourself or a loved one? Sound Mind Therapy offers individual counseling services by licensed professional counselors to help you see life from a different perspective! To make an appointment, call (314) 499-9144 or complete our online request form. From our office in Creve Coeur, we serve residents of St. Charles, Chesterfield and surrounding St. Louis suburbs.