9 things to remember when social media makes you feel bad about yourself

Tips from Instagram star Massy "Mankofit" Arias, who has mastered the art.

By Elizabeth Narins

It's no secret that people post their best moments, best accomplishments, and best shots at perfection on social media, but real life is not all #NoFilter avocado toasts and fitspo. "You need mental strength to use social media wisely," says Massy "Mankofit" Arias, an Instagram fitness star with more than 1.9 million followers.

Massy launched her account around the same time she started working out to combat depression, using Instagram to track her progress and share her journey with what turned out to be a very captive audience. Social media helped her get better and build a career a social media influencer, so she sees its value.

But she also knows a toxic habit when she sees one: "I used to spend a lot of unnecessary time on social media, spending hours on my phone looking at what other people were doing, reading comments, and seeing what others' lives were all about," Massy says. These days, to stop social media from getting the best of her, she uses these tips to stay sane:

"I won't fall into the hole of worrying about what others are doing because it makes me feel down and takes time away from putting energy toward things that matter," says Massy, who spends the bulk of her social media time posting her own content and responding to followers who engage with it.

"I post about three times a day and try to make most of those posts about something that matters," Massy says.

"I'll spend 30 minutes engaging with fans after I post. I'll address questions, and then I go back to real life," Massy says. "We all have lives!"

It might sound counterintuitive on a network that's designed to expose you to visually pleasing things, but the biggest accounts are often linked to even bigger and more beautiful personalities. Read post captions to find comments that make you smile or nod in agreement, and follow people who don't just have gorgeous smiles, but cool personalities.

"People who say that Instagram posts make them feel nothing are lying," Massy says. If a person's posts constantly make you feel jealous, angry, or insufficient? Bye. You won't miss their updates. You don't have to be a victim of your own feed.

When you find yourself ogling a model's thigh gap and wishing it were yours, look through the photos on your own phone. Chances are, you have a slew of rejected selfies you took before picking one worth posting on Instagram or elsewhere. And chances are, the "perfect" model you see also has a bunch of shots she took before posting the one you envy. (To put thing in perspective: Massy says she'll take between 20 to 25 photos of herself before getting a shot that she's cool with posting.)

"It's up to you to decide whether a photo is real [or Photoshopped]," says Massy, who can rattle off half a dozen photo editing apps that blur out pimples, smooth skin, or fix an eyebrow gone astray. The truth is that everyone* edits their photos to look better. "Even putting a filter over a picture means you're altering that image," Massy says. That's why it's silly to compare Instagram to real life.

Everyone puts their best foot forward on social media — even you. So instead of scrolling through the other people's photos, take a closer look at ones you've posted. Looking at your best angles can make you feel pretty freaking good. "I get motivated by my own progress," Massy says.

"Social media isn't everything there is," says Massy, who compares social media accounts to highly curated magazines that capture people's best moments with the best angles and best light. "Don't confuse it for real life — they're not the same thing."

Source: Cosmo US