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By Tiyani Rikhotso

It’s very easy to find yourself in a deep dark hole of endless scrolling through Instagram. Checking a new post from one of your friends quickly turns into a 3 hour session of comparing yourself to unrealistic standards of beauty or success. Suddenly it’s dark outside and you’re beating yourself up about why your bikini body doesn’t look like some random model’s or why you are not a 19-year-old influencer jet-setting around the world.

People display their highlight reels on social media. You see the best angle of their body, the exciting part of their holiday, good hair days, clear skin days and smoothie bowls or colourful salads. Breakouts or peanut butter sandwiches are simply not as photogenic. Neither is rejection, stress, tension within relationships, the consequences of clumsiness, the not so good days or the other seemingly messy things we all experience outside of social media.

It’s no secret that the images and media we consume affect our spending habits, the way we see the world and most importantly, ourselves. While there are a lot of images and stories that inspire a more authentic way of living and encourage self-love or speak to issues such as those of social justice, we are often bombarded by images that make us question the way in which we exist and live our lives. This is why it’s so important to disconnect, especially if you are someone who hasn’t cultivated a positive and balanced relationship with social media. Use the peace and quiet that comes with taking a digital detox  (you’ll come to realise that mindlessly scrolling through Instagram really did take up a lot of your time) to find comfort in yourself and the way in which your life is unfolding. You don’t have to look a certain way and you certainly don’t have to have your life figured out by 18.

Challenge yourself to 30 days of no Instagram  (or whatever social media platform you feel triggers insecurity or that you struggle to take your eyes off). The world won’t end. Yes it might be hard at first. Your fingers will itch for that familiar motion across the screen or you might feel like you’re missing out on ‘everything’ that’s important. But there is no need for FOMO. There is so much content and such fast movement within social media platforms that what is new in one second gets drowned out the next.

Use the time that will open itself up to catch up on work, read a book, connect with a friend or do some exercise. Nurture yourself and affirm the life that you’re living and the body you exist in. After the 30 days, coming back to social media might be more empowering in that you are able to recognise Instagram for the highlight real that it is. The newfound trust and appreciation you have of where you are in your life will make comparison a thing of a past. You may see yourself finding inspiration from these images and messages and be launched towards becoming a better version of yourself or chasing you dreams out of love and not envy or insecurity.

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