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Finding Empowerment In Your Feed:

How To Reduce Social Media Comparison

Today it’s common to have a complicated or even unhealthy relationship with social media. It’s fairly new to us, specifically Instagram which was only founded in 2012. This is important to remember because although research exists suggesting a relationship between depression, anxiety and social media usage (Haidt, Allen, 2020), there’s also adequate research conflicting those results (Coyne, Rogers, Zurcher, Stockdale, Booth, 2020). The fact is, social media is too new and too vast to know exactly how it can affect us on a wide scale right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate its affects on a personal level. This is why it’s so important to take social media seriously by keeping an eye on how our consumption of it can influence us and our mental health.

Social comparison is completely natural in the development of humans. It’s normal to compare our productivity, our attractiveness and abilities to other people in order to place ourselves in the world. But with such easy access to heavily curated lives online, it seems like social comparison has intensified. The important part of this is to notice if or when this type of comparison becomes unhealthy.

We’ve found a few helpful ways to manage social media and we’d love to share them with you! Remember that we can choose to make social media a safe place full of inspiration, joy and useful content. We can change our consumption by switching from an algorithm of content that’s draining, triggering, or pushes unattainable body standards to one that promotes and prioritizes our self-care. And we also have the option to opt out of our online worlds to be happier in the present too.

  • Evaluate your relationship

    • After you spend time on social media take a moment to check in with yourself. If the majority of the time you’re noticing patterns of feeling inadequate or negative, maybe this is the time to do something about it. We work to be mindful of a lot of things in our “real” life, but sometimes neglect mindfulness in terms of social media, which is real life! For many of us social media is the last thing we see at night and the first thing we see in the morning, which means monitoring our associated feelings with it must be taken seriously.

  • Take a break

    • Just like how we would take a break from a toxic relationship with another person, sometimes it’s necessary to put social media on pause too. A break can be a day, a week, six months, whatever you feel works best for you. After your break (if you decide to come back) you can reevaluate how social media serves you, if at all! 


    • Remember that ads look different on social media. It’s typical now that we follow brands and influencers we love, but keep in mind that the photos these brands upload are still serving as advertisement. That means that their content and photos are most likely highly edited, curated, and created in an effort to instill on us a sense of need for whatever is being promoted.

  • Social media is a highlight reel

    • Social media is used by most of us as a “highlight reel” for how we want to be perceived by other people. We don’t typically post about bad days or tough moments in our lives nearly as much (if at all) as the moments that we feel successful or proud. Although this seems obvious, it’s such an important reminder when scrolling through a seemingly perfect feed. So keep in mind that we all have bad days, and moments of distress, isolation, and anxiety. We just don’t usually post them online, but that doesn’t mean they’re not real. 


    • Check in on your current mental state before going online, and be mindful of when and where you pull out your phone to use social media. Are you waiting for an appointment? Sitting on the bus? Are you bored? Being bored is usually the main reason we pull out our phones, and because of that, it can feel like a personal jab when scrolling and seeing posts of productivity. We aren’t being necessarily productive in the waiting room or the bus, despite what we’re waiting for or where we’re going. This immediate feeling of comparison can really shake us up, especially if we’re already feeling particularly sensitive in the moment. Keep in mind when you pull out your phone and and where you are and how that might influence your perception of the content you see. 

  • filter your feed

    • Is it important to you to be updated with certain accounts that are negatively affecting you? Do those accounts provide you with useful information? No? There is nothing wrong with cutting ties with accounts that you find draining or triggering. Sometimes when it comes to people who we know and encounter in our own lives it can feel awkward to unfollow them but a lot of apps offer options to “mute or “pause” accounts that you don’t want included on your feed. That way you still have the choice to check in on those accounts, but on your terms. Maybe taking a break from certain accounts can act as a breather from that negative or overwhelming content. 

  • Practice mindful consumption

    • After filtering and unfollowing accounts that no longer serve you, you can begin to be more mindful of the new accounts you welcome into your feed. Curate a feed that provides you with a safe space. Follow accounts that are compassionate, useful, insightful, or inspirational. Choose accounts like you would choose friends. Be particular in what you consume and mindful of the content being shared. By doing this, you can make social media a space to better your mental health rather than trigger it.  

You have the power to decide what you see how your social media usage can serve you. Take a break, unfollow negative accounts, and try to keep in mind that we all have bad days, we just don’t always share them. 

To follow us on Instagram just search @therapywithmassy for daily compassionate content that focuses on spreading light online!

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