Steph Claire Smith’s advice for taking care of your mental health on social media

The wellness entrepreneur has some tried-and-tested tips
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I  consider myself lucky to have gone through my teenage years without Instagram. Sure, we had Myspace and MSN Messenger, but Instagram and TikTok are another kettle of fish.

If I’d had these apps when I was a teenager, naivety would’ve led me to believe everything I saw online was real.

WATCH: Steph Claire Smith answers Who’s rapid fire questions.

Though, to be fair, age isn’t always the biggest factor when it comes to social media being a dangerous and misleading place.

Your own headspace and relationship with yourself play a huge part in how you use social media, and how it will affect you. 

There are a lot of ideas around how you can work on your own relationship with yourself. And as part of that, let’s chat about making social media (if you choose to be on it) a much safer and enjoyable place – because even those with an incredible relationship with themselves can find it a horrible place to be.

(Credit: Instagram)

Do your best to avoid comparing yourself to others. However, this is easier said than done. The online comparison trap hits from every angle.

I find myself falling into the comparison trap when I’ve lost confidence in myself in certain areas. I used to be really insecure about my physical appearance and I would compare my body to the bodies of people I followed online. 

These days, my insecurities are mostly career related, so I find I compare myself to where others are at in their careers. Unfortunately, comparison is just a part of life. We can get better at managing it, though, and we can also do our best to avoid it.

WATCH: Steph Claire Smith and Laura Henshaw talk about how they learned to love themselves (Article continues after video)

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Next time you find you’re comparing yourself to someone online, please remember what you are seeing is likely not the full picture. Not only is the type of content people share curated, but often it’s edited.

Thankfully, on Instagram Stories you can now see when a filter is being used, but within someone’s feed you have no idea what kind of effort or editing has gone into every image. On top of that, Instagram is a highlight reel.

Even people who keep it pretty raw and relatable will have struggles they won’t share, and that’s their prerogative.

(Credit: Instagram)

Curate your experience

Remember, you are in control of your social media. It’s your choice to be on Instagram. It’s your choice to have a public or private account. It’s your choice to follow the people you do. It’s your choice how much time you spend scrolling.

There are certain things out of your control, for example, trolls or how someone else acts online. But you have the power to block, mute and restrict the people you interact with.

How do you feel when you’re scrolling through your feed? Are there any accounts that make you feel bad about yourself? Unfollow or block them, or – if you’re worried about someone finding out you’ve unfollowed them – mute them. 

Instead, follow more people who bring you joy. And consider what you are using social media for.

Do you spend time online for fun? Inspiration? Entertainment? Whatever it is, follow more accounts that tick those boxes.

(Credit: Instagram)

Own your feed

Now it’s time to get another thing straight: your profile/feed is yours.

Post whatever you like and don’t stress over how much engagement it gets. You’re never going to please everyone, and that’s OK.

Outside of being considerate to the world around you, of course, don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of the content you decide to share. Your likes, comments and followers do not define you as a person. They do not prove your level of worthiness or coolness. You do you.

WATCH: Steph Claire Smith boxing (article continues after video)

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Spend less time online

Finally, if you feel like you’ve done everything you can to make your social media a safe place, but there’s still something about it that gets you down, reduce your time online. 

Limit your use of your favourite apps or take extended breaks that are days or even weeks long.

Remember that while it’s fun, helpful and a form of connecting with others, it can also be consuming. Real life is where the party’s at.

Edited extract from You Take Care by Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith (Murdoch Books, $36.99). 

Compiled by: Madison Bogisch; Text Reproduced with permission from Murdoch Books 2023

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