For better or worse, it’s safe to say that social media is an unavoidable part of our culture. Every brand has to devote significant resources to their social media presence and pretty much anyone with a Smartphone can download Instagram and start sharing their entire lives with everyone they know—and everyone they don’t.
#Selfcare has become one of the most-used hashtag on social media with over 14 million searchable posts having been uploaded to date. Basically, it’s trendy as hell to snap a picture of something you’re doing to take care of your physical, mental or emotional health and wait for the likes to roll in. It can seem like people are only doing certain things so they can post about it on social media. They get more satisfaction from the number of likes and comments than they do from the actual act of self care. The validation is what they’re really after. But taking care of you shouldn’t hinge on what others have to say about it.
Self care isn’t about buying a certain product or writing captions on Instagram about how you had a long week and you deserve to #treatyourself to an entire bottle of wine. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying social media, but self care shouldn’t always be something you have to announce to all your followers. It should have the same affect whether you keep it to yourself or post it for the world to see. Here are a few things to remember as you navigate social media while also making your own wellbeing a top priority.
Wellness is a brand
Wellness is more than a lifestyle these days, it’s a full-on industry complete with hashtags, dedicated influencers, memoirs, documentaries, juice cleanses and workout trends. Entire brands build their presence around the promotion of wellness and self care, but what do those things really mean in a more practical sense?
You’re free to engage with whatever brand you like, re-gram their inspirational quotes and buy their products and services, but just remember they are a business. Businesses have strategies designed to make money and if #selfcare is what’s trending, they will do what they can to capitalize on it. Do your research before you buy anything. That’s one of the greatest things about the internet today—if something exists online, so do reviews from other consumers who have tried it before you. Choose the companies that can demonstrate they share your values, not just talk a big game about it in their captions.
Not all influencers care about you
Instagram influencers are here to stay, but not all people who make a living off collaborating with brands on social media are created equal. The Kardashians may have millions of followers but they have caught a lot of heat for promoting products like flat tummy tea and appetite suppressant lollipops. It’s unlikely they actually use these products (those teas are just laxatives, which aren’t good for anyone in the long run), but they’re telling all their followers that they do. Money is their main motivator, not promoting things they actually believe in.
On the other hand, there are plenty of influencers who care about only working with brands they trust and would use themselves. Those are the types of people you should support because they started small enough to know that engaging with their followers and being real is important to their livelihood—and they actually want to do it!
You don’t have to post everything
It says it right in the title: self-care should be about you and you alone. We all have a tendency to focus on everyone else at times, but in the long run, you can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself first.
Start being more mindful of what you do to relax and whether you feel the need to tell everyone you know about it. Are you getting a massage because you need the downtime or because you really want 100 likes on your photo of the massage table and caption about how #zen you feel after a good rub down? People may hit like on all your photos but they’re probably doing it mindlessly as the scroll through hundreds of photos from the toilet in the morning. Ask yourself why you need this validation from people who aren’t actually thinking twice about you (half of who are probably strangers).
Social media addiction is a real thing and there is research indicating that people who feel like they need to post on IG multiple times a day chronicling everything they do might actually be less happy than people who are just content to live their lives in obscurity.
Every feed is curated
Instagram influencers with a lot of followers are a brand. Everything they post is curated to fit into the image they want to portray and while the best ones don’t promote any products or services they don’t actually believe in, their lives probably aren’t as picture perfect as their IG feed makes it seem.
They take hundreds of photos to get that one they posted. They use filters. They plan out their content in advance and only talk about the most visually appealing parts of their lives. Many influencers are learning to be more transparent about what their social media presence is really about and be honest with their followers about how much work goes into being an influencer. Sure, parts of it are glamorous, but that’s not the whole picture. With social media, you’re only ever seeing one side—the one people want you to see.