3 tips to boost self-esteem using social media

Whilst social media can be a wonderful source of entertainment, inspiring creativity and bringing closer connection with other like-minded souls, sadly, it also has the potential to devastate self-worth and amplify feelings of isolation and inadequacy.


In the therapy room, I regularly hear of the emotional aftermath, as a client has fallen into an unhelpful rabbit hole of toxic viewing, which continues to lure them back in. The ripple effect on self-esteem and emotional well-being is impactful, and viewing habits feel tricky to break.

You have 60,000 plus thoughts per day and many of these are repetitive and relentless. You can only imagine the impact of a recurring negative thought to your psyche, as it whirs repeatedly and then is continually re-activated through further scrolling.

Thankfully, you can have some influence on the way you think. Your thoughts are deeply impacted by the way you spend your time and who you interact with.

A walk with a dear friend in the spring sunshine may bring contented feelings and happier thoughts. Whereas a walk in the pouring rain, when you are running late for an important meeting might bring a different set altogether.

A mindful approach to your use of social media can reap tremendous benefits to mental health and body image. 

Here are three areas of social media usage to be vigilant about: 

1. Your old photos

Social media will deliver your old photos as a memory shot in time, and often, this can reignite joyful memories.

However, if you are regularly scrutinising old photos and comparing your body then and now, please stop. You likely have a distorted nostalgia of this moment in time, where your brain assures you that you felt wonderful and that your body was somehow better. 

When dissecting these experiences in the therapy room, clients regularly acknowledge that these photos do not represent genuine moments of bliss and body image actualisation. 

The simple act of continuing to view these images brings up feelings of body dissatisfaction. Instead, work to stop this habit and focus on appreciating and valuing your body now.

2. Viewing material

There’s a plethora of triggering images only a scroll away on your social media feed. These can be incongruent ‘a wolf in sheep’s clothing’, as influencers talk about intuitive eating and body positivity, whilst simultaneously posing with visible abs and wellness shakes. 

It’s important to notice your feelings when viewing these images.  Do you fall into a pit of despair, envy and self-loathing?  Do you collect buckets of evidence, to simply prove just how ‘wrong’ your body is? 

If so, step away and ruthlessly curate your feed. You have some choice here and can be in the driving seat of your mental well-being.

With consideration and care, follow people who inspire and lift your mood. If you’re engulfed with body-focused accounts, switch to travel or animals or something else entirely. 

3. Be intentional

Social media is available 24/7, like a Vegas casino, with entertainment freely on tap. At your fingertips, it offers easy and gratifying amusement, with no thought or effort needed.

We are all guilty of reaching for our phones at the first sign of boredom or quiet. 

Instead, work to be intentional with your engagement and set yourself boundaries around social media use.  Consider how else you could spend this time. Reading, connecting with a friend, being outside in nature, daydreaming, watching a film – feel empowered to choose and step away when needed.

If you are struggling with your body image and mental well-being in relation to social media use, you may want to seek out further support through counselling.

This article was written by Harriet Frew.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Cambridge, CB1
Written by Harriet Frew, MSc; MBACP Accred
Cambridge, CB1

Harriet Frew is a counsellor specialising in eating disorders and body image. She has worked in the NHS and private practice since 2003, and is passionate about supporting and educating others through therapy, writing and social media.
Instagram: @the_eating_disorder_therapist; Podcast - The Eating Disorder Therapist

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