Social media is amazing in a lot of ways: it’s a great tool for staying connected and sharing what you’ve been up to with the world. But it goes without saying that it can also be incredibly damaging to one’s self-esteem. 

Most people on social media aren’t posting about what their lives are really like, but rather painting a pretty picture of what they want you to think their lives are like. Their marriage could be falling apart or they could be in the midst of financial troubles, but all you’ll see is a picture of their perfect family vacation in Hawaii. We forget that what we see on social media isn’t real! We’re only getting glimpses into these people’s lives, but we tend to measure our entire existence against their highlight reel. This can lead to a dreadful little thing called comparisonitis. 

Comparisonitis is the compulsion to compare one’s own accomplishments to another’s as a way of determining self-worth.

When you’ve been struck with comparisonitis, you’re basically deciding how happy you are based on what other people are doing. Instead of focusing on how much you already have in your life (abundance mindset), you’re left thinking about all the things you don’t have (scarcity mindset). Comparisonitis will definitely leave you feeling inadequate and worthless. So why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we pick up our phones and scroll through social media every spare chance we get? Most of the time it’s out of habit and we’re not even aware of how often we’re doing it. But some of us have become downright addicted. Either way, it’s time to make a change.

Here are 5 steps to ensure social media isn’t killing your confidence:

1. Take a digital detox

First and foremost, it’s time for a full-blown hiatus. I recommend taking a minimum of 7 DAYS to completely log off all forms of social media. Delete the apps from your phone so you can’t be tempted to check in on them (you’ll be able to re-download them when you’re finished.) Pay attention to how you feel during this time. Does it make you feel anxious? Relieved? Do your feelings change throughout the week? Do you find yourself having tons of extra time? You’ll probably have to identify a substitute activity that you can do when you find yourself reaching to scroll through pictures. Make note of how it feels—the good and the bad! After you’e taken your detox and you’re ready to reenter the world of social media, it’s time to put some parameters around it.

2. Don’t consume first thing in the morning

This is one of the WORST ways to start your day—especially when you haven’t even gotten out of your bed yet! When you wake up, your day is full of potential. Why would you want to jeopardize this by logging on to see what everybody else is doing? Does that really make you feel good? NO! The thing is, we may not even be fully aware of how much our scrolling sessions affect us at the time. It isn’t until later in the day when we reflect back on some “influencer” we saw on vacation with her beautiful husband, 5 perfect children, rockin’ body, successful business AND amazing style! Well, of course we’re feeling a little inadequate. Take the morning for yourself. Get your day started on the right foot and wait until at least after breakfast to check your social media accounts. 

3. Scroll mindfully

How often do you find yourself on some person’s account THAT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW and suddenly you’re looking at pictures they posted 3 years ago? This is in no way contributing to your life in a positive way. Pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s great to use social media as a tool for staying connected, it’s not great to use it as a tool for stalking or sucking hours out of your precious life. Ask yourself: what are you getting out of it?

4. Set time limits

If you can’t hold yourself accountable for staying within the time limits, make your phone do it. When you set a time limit on your phone, it won’t allow you to log onto the app if you’ve surpassed your time limit for the day. I’ll let you choose how long you deem appropriate for scrolling time, but just remember how much more productive you were and better you felt during your digital detox!

5. Remember that it’s not all real

If you find yourself becoming envious of other people, you have to keep in mind that these are just pictures and videos. You are not seeing their 24/7 life and you have no idea what else is going on. Just remember: the grass is greener where you water it.