Is social media making you see green?

What to do if you tend to measure your worth by how popular you are on social media? Find out how to enjoy the online scene without letting it get to you.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

What to do if you tend to measure your worth by how popular you are on social media? Find out how to enjoy the online scene without letting it get to you

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You just read a social media post, and it sours your mood the whole day. “There are no official statistics, but many of us are stressed out by social media and worried that the lives of others are far more exciting than ours,” says Daniel Koh.

If your social media habits are getting you down, here’s what you need to know.

Social media is powerful

With Facebook being the most popular, there is a massive upside to social medial use, says Ian Hickie, professor of psychiatry at the University of Sydney. “Our mental health is much better when we’re connected: Relationships, family and friends are all vital to our well-being. Yet as Facebook usage has increased during this decade, so have reports about its potentially damaging effect on our psyche.”

Do not compare

Studies show if you spend time daily gazing at your friends’ posts, you might start making upward social comparisons – meaning you start believing the grass is always greener on everyone else’s side of the fence.

“You may experience discontentment and frustration in your own life,” says psychologist Jocelyn Brewer, founder of Digital Nutrition, a website which promotes healthy relationships with technology. “When you’re viewing others’ lives through the social media, we only see a selective and sometimes highly contrived version of what they wish to project,” she says.

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Keep your jealousy in check

1)Be in touch with reality.

Remember that things are not always what they seem. Studies show that people portray themselves on social media to be much happier than they really are. People do not post negative things like arguments, struggles or disappointments. They usually share happy moments like either achievements or milestones in their lives – a new flat, a new baby, a new job or a promotion. “See what you really have and not ponder on what you are missing,” advises Daniel.

2)Be mindful.

Before you check in, stop and ask yourself what you’re looking for, and how you’re going to manage the information you’re going to see,” advises Jocelyn. “Be present when you’re on Facebook rather than scrolling mindlessly and then having negative feelings intrude your thoughts.”

3)Be an active user.

Experts have found that the more you use Facebook as a surveillance tool, the greater your risk of triggering envy. So instead of reading what other people are doing – post your own photos and share your own news, suggests Daniel.

4)Flip the script. Jocelyn suggests,

“If you notice that someone else got 100 happy birthday or 58 anniversary wishes and you only got 15, ask yourself, ‘Were those 15 people who wrote lovely comments, genuine? Are they people who, in an emergency, you could call for help?’. Look at how influential they are in your life instead of looking at the numbers.

5)Find a positive message.

“If you’re feeling a lack or a gap in your own life when you look at friends’ posts, it could be a catalyst to reconnect with your own goals and values,” suggests Daniel.

6)Create safe space.

If you notice that posts from certain people in your network tend to trigger negative feelings, disable their notifications, or simply unfollow them for a while. It’s not as dramatic as ‘unfriending’ and after a while you can always bring them back into your feed – they’ll never know any better.

7)Use a reminder.

If you’ve developed a chronic habit of mindlessly scrolling through your social media feeds, download a screensaver that urges such caution as ‘There’s nothing to see here’ and ‘Do you really need to check?’.

8)Focus on your real-life relationships.

Sharing genuine experiences with friends and family will remind you what being truly connected is all about. “There’s more to life than what you see in the virtual world. Go out and enjoy life, friends and work and have fun! When you see you have so much, you may not really need what you envy in the first place,” concludes Daniel. W