Social Media and Your Mental Health + The Truth Behind Those Pretty Pictures on Instagram From Top Travel Accounts
I’m here to share my experience and thoughts with you on a deeper, personal level in order for you to maintain a balance of getting your social media fixes without the damaging effects. It is my goal to encourage each of my readers to follow their own dreams, pursue their passions, be inspired, feel included, and stay on a healthy mental path while doing so.
Let me break it down
There’s been a lot of talk about social media related to ones mental health lately. Studies have shown that social media isn’t very good for mental well being, and in some ways, it can be pretty damaging. Social media posts can set unrealistic expectations, create feelings of inadequacy, cause depression, low self esteem, anxiety, FOMO, sadness, insecurities, jealousy and so much more. Even Facebook said in a corporate email that social media leaves people feeling crummy. But there was a caveat to the claim: Facebook, which cited outside research throughout the report, says that using social media passively — described as “reading but not interacting with people” — makes users feel worse.¹
One study said that the more time people spent on social media, the more socially isolated they perceived themselves to be. Perceived social isolation is one of the worst things for us, mentally and physically.² Mainly because we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through our feeds, and make judgements about how we measure up. I know Raya did a great video called We Need To Talk on Comparison that also covers this subject. Honestly, it makes you feel better when the people you actually follow on social media address the subject. It reminds you that we’re all human and everyone has insecurities. Even the ones posting amazing photos on Instagram. We’re just people.
For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there’s nothing else. It’s here, and you’d better decide to enjoy it or you’re going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever. -Lev Grossman
It’s easy to get lost in the beautiful place that is “Instagram world.” Remember that social media is MEDIA. Just like magazines, tv, and ads, you’re just consuming it on a more personal level from actual people. It’s a business. Plus, most of what people are posting online is their highlight reel. I’m not posting pictures of me eating an entire pizza, with zit medicine on, in my ugliest jammies, and having not showered for days. You’re welcome by the way. That’s what instastories and snapchat filters are for. lol
Even I had moments of self doubt last month. I was in a funk and it was hard to get out of it. I started comparing myself to the people online that were practically bikini models, accounts with more followers, in amazing locations that I hadn’t been to yet, that were funnier, or punnier, healthier, had more energy, and women that were always happy and energetic with crazy positive vibes. It was drowning me instead of inspiring me for some reason.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a happy positive person but not 24/7. I get sick. I have bad days. I suffer from exhaustion and I get overwhelmed. When I realized this was affecting me I choose to try to combat it. I supported other women, tried to lift people up, shouted out other small accounts online and tried to spread the love. I believe there is enough room at the top for everybody! But everyone has their low days and I went through it for sure.
I reached out to some bloggers that I constantly engage with online to get help. I set up calls with them and it really helped pull me out. Because we’re all people and even though we may look extremely social online, blogging can be a very lonely business. It’s great to set up calls monthly, every two weeks, or as often as you need, with people in the same space. Trust me it will bring you back to life and motivate you! Community over competition always.
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
My advice is to be positive when you’re on social media and use it to catch up with accounts you follow, engage with them, or use it for inspiration only. Don’t get caught up in the game of comparison. It will drain you. Also, count your blessings, remember what you’re grateful for, and know that everyone is not perfect. We’re all different, even though we’re on the same platform. What makes you different is what makes you beautiful! I love social media for that. I love engaging with people that are opposite of me. Because just like traveling opens your mind so can learning about people in different locations or that come from different backgrounds.
I recently reached out to some of my favorite travel accounts on Instagram to get their take. I asked them to share something with me that most people don’t know about travel bloggers. To pull back the curtain and let you know what’s really up behind those pretty pictures on Instagram.
Check out what they said
“Life isn’t always as glamorous as the IG picture appears! Hahaha but it’s very true. Often it’s long days, late nights editing and a lot of staging to set up the perfect shot. Case in point to any food photos I post.”
“It’s no where near as easy as it looks. It requires you to dedicate your life to your work, and there’s a lot of work involved to be successful. There’s a lot of risks, both with success and your life in general, and you have to be willing to take all of them to make it work. When it does work though, nothing else is comparable.”
“People see our lives as goals without realizing that we give up certain things in order to be travel bloggers, like stability, being with friends and family at home more often. It’s all worth it, but it’s definitely a trade off that you have to be willing to make.”
“It’s a lot more work then people may think. One picture you see is only 1% of the entire story. Our job is amazing but a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and time goes into our work.”
“Most people don’t know the amount of time that goes into just about anything we do. A blog post, an Instagram post, social media presence, etc. Since we’re “personalities,” most of our free time is spent capturing moments to later blog about. Then we spend the work part of our day recapping what was supposed to be off time. It’s great to do what you love doing all day long, but technically there is no separation between leisure and work for us.”
“People always think our job seems too good to be true, and at times it does feel like it, however it takes a lot of work and knowledge – running a successful Instagram and blog is like running your own magazine, except without any help. We are owners, editors, lectors, writers, photographers, marketing team, pr team, finances, etc… We just gotta learn every day and get better and better.”
“Being a travel blogger is amazing, but it does make maintaining relationships back home a lot harder. You’re constantly on the go and that coming and going can put a strain on things! You have to remember that I only post a very curated selection of things going on in my life! At the end of the day, I’m just like you: I have good days and I have bad days!
“Most people don’t realize that it goes well beyond “going on vacation”. It’s setting up shots, editing photos and video, meeting with marketing teams, learning about the resort, writing creative packages and more. Most of the time what you see posted on the internet is only a small portion of the total project!”
“It’s curated content. Yes sometimes it looks effortless. But photos are planned ahead of time, most experiences and moments are set up and created, using expensive equipment, and advanced editing tools. Sometimes even using professionals. I spend most of my time just trying to keep up because there are always things to do! It’s a dream job, a full time one.”
Lets wrap it up
A funny quote I saw the other day on the subject was something my neighbor posted…on social media… lol. “Social Media is like a window into other people’s lives. How you gonna live your life when you’e out here peeping in windows?”
Out of five social networks included in the survey, YouTube received the highest marks for health and wellbeing and was the only site that received a positive score. Twitter came in second, followed by Facebook and then Snapchat—with Instagram bringing up the rear.³ All of the sites received positive scores for self identity, self expression, community building and emotional support! Yay for the positives takeaways!
So remember to take a break sometimes and use social media in moderation. Spend your time on things that bring you fulfillment, joy, and refill you when you’re drained. Spend your energy and time with people that lift you up and energize your soul. Try not to compare yourself to others, know that there is A LOT more going on when you pull the curtain back. People are people and even if their highlight reel is amazing, they have the same feelings you do sometimes. Don’t scroll mindlessly on social, instead try to engage and interact with people. And last but not least, I hope you leave here with the confidence of Pakalu!