Welcome to the start of this new week. It will be beautiful, hopeful, and filled with all of things that each of us needs.
For this #MentalHealthMonday, we will continue the discussion on body acceptance by looking into our social media. I can say that making changes to the way I consumed social media was the most impactful factor in my journey of learning body acceptance. I didn’t really start thinking and feeling differently until I made some major changes to the things I see while scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
The obvious first step is to remove the things that trigger you. This could be “clean” eating content, fitspo, celebrities that appear in a way that makes you feel less than, or even peers that are engaged in behavior that is disordered/destructive and is visibly apparent to you through their social media posts. The way that I did this that made it feel less overwhelming for me was to notice to when I feel triggered while scrolling, and in that very moment, without hesitation, unfollow that account. Doing it bit by bit instead of all at once might give you a more accurate idea of what is triggering you, can feel much less overwhelming, and helps you practice being mindful of your thoughts and emotions. In the moment, it may not always feel good to unfollow some people— they may be people you are close to, or you may have FOMO about missing certain content— but continually exposing yourself to triggering material will only serve as a roadblock in progressing towards body acceptance.
Cleansing your social media is not only helpful in healing your body image. There are myriad mental health issues that get triggered by social media posts. Make some changes for any of these reasons, too.
The very important second step of changing your social media is to ADD IN things that lift you up, educate you, and inspire you in productive ways. This is the key. You cannot expect to just remove things that don’t serve you and leave big gaping holes in something like social media that is such a significant part of your day to day life. The principle is: you will believe what you see and build your values around what you are exposed to. If it is fitspo and normalizing unattainable bodies, then that is what your values will build around. If you expose yourself to a diverse set of bodies and images/words that teach self-love, then that is what your values will build around.
Here are some of my favorite accounts that I follow that helped me in my journey towards body acceptance and overall improved mental health: (these are all Instagram accounts, as that is where I consume most of my social media, but a lot of these accounts provide links to their other platforms in their bios):
Social Media is a tool. It can be weaponized and it can cause real damage. But it can be equally as powerful in the opposite direction. Reflect on your relationship with social media this week and how you are harnessing its power.