Mastering Social Media for a Healthier You

Oct 30, 2023
Two hands hold a smart phone. There are gold rings on the fingers and a woman with curly hair is wearing a bright yellow shirt as she scrolls social media.

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, and with it, the trend of seeking wellness advice on social media platforms has also surged. However, there are several limitations to this approach that need to be considered to use social media in a healthier way. The good news is that once you become aware of the ways social media will impact you, you can master the ways you need to keep it healthy for you and a tool for wellness.


Hands down, one of the major limitations of social media is it’s impact on our ability to take action. Although social media wellness introduces users to a wealth of information, research suggests that people often fail to take action on the advice they receive. This lack of action could stem from the overwhelming amount of information available, leading to confusion and indecision.

Don’t believe us? How many Saved Posts do you have? If you’re honest it’s a lot… and how many of them have you taken action on? If it’s a low number you’d rather not admit, here’s our advice.


  • You need to write down or schedule things you really want to take action on… put then it where you can see it or plan for it.  It has to move out of your saved posts into the real world.

  • You also need to challenge yourself to stop reflex saving things you’ll never take action on. A good question to ask yourself is “Will I have the time to take action on this? And it is the most important thing I can be doing?”


Another limitation is the impact of social media on our transactive memory. This is the ability to remember information that we do not need to know but can access when required. The constant logging of our activities on social media has disrupted our transactive memory, leading to less retention of information from the real world and more reliance on social media for recall.


Social media wellness also has the potential to keep people from utilizing professionals when needed. While social media can provide valuable advice, it cannot replace the expertise of a qualified professional, and users may need to seek professional help to address underlying health issues.


Cookie-cutter advice and aspirational images can create the illusion of wellness without addressing underlying issues or being accurate. This is particularly problematic when it comes to mental health, where social media can perpetuate harmful ideas and lead people to ignore or downplay serious issues or self-diagnose incorrectly.

Recently, many women are diagnosing themselves with ADHD after seeing Reels or videos on Instagram. Most of it centralizes on realizing you have an executive function issue (the part of your brain that help you take action and complete tasks). What TicToc and Instagram don’t say clearly is that while executive dysfunction is extremely common in ADHD, it also occurs with autism, bipolar disorder, complex trauma, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, dementia, Tourette’s syndrome, and traumatic brain injuries. Other causes of executive dysfunction that are temporary include exhaustion, mold exposure, stress, severe pain, distracting environments, drug or alcohol use, and more. While a correct diagnosis on your own could be possible, it usually takes professional help to differentiate between all the possible causes. You could end up claiming a label that should never be put on your body and letting it effect how you think about yourself.

That’s one example. Be mindful that a few short posts in no way can provide a diagnosis on many things. When used correctly, they can inspire you to seek out professional help.



  • Social media can be a place where you find the inspiration to believe that and fight for yourself. But it can also make you lose time and money if you're falling for fads or elevating accounts that are giving you surface level advice and aren't really experts in how detailed and interconnected everything is in the body.

  • Test it out: The last three things you tried for your wellness to feel good...where did you get the information from? Be honest! Who told you to try it? If a friend told you about it, do you suspect they might have gotten it from social media? Was it on influencer or a professional on social media? 

  • It’s worth taking a look at to see if maybe you’re stuck in a cycle of trying information from people who actually don’t know your full health history and the BEST ways to help you. Are you taking advice from someone who has poured everything into understanding your problem? You’ll find both sources on social media.


Ok, let’s talk about the perfect Instagram morning that will keep you well for life:

  • It starts early with a glass of warm water and lemon you squeezed yourself, followed by meditation in an Insta-worthy cozy outfit and the perkiest topknot (I love a good top know, so I’m not knocking it!)… .then bulletproof coffee or matcha before a HITT workout (that definitely happens in a matching bra and leggings) followed by a spinach-filled green smoothie with at least 2 ingredients that cost $45 a bag that promise to heal you from any ailment and alkaline water- and the promise that this exact routine changed their life! 

We see these promise-filled pictures E V E R Y W H E R E. These pictures are not wrong (let’s repeat that  - these individual choices are not wrong, especially potentially for the person posting them and their unique life) and routines can be powerful. But somewhere along the way much of culture internalized these images from perfect strangers and decided they were most likely what we needed to be well and we were failing if we didn’t do them too.

When you don’t have the morning or wellness routine or wellness accessories that you see on Instagram, you might get frustrated, or maybe you give up on that day, or you might even feel guilty all day because you’re not doing it that way - calling the day a failure in your mind before it even gets started - because of something you saw everywhere on social media.

It’s a real reaction scientists can see in research called “internalism.” 

Internalism is a nonconscious mental process by which users adopt the beliefs, attitudes, and characteristics of others and assimilate them into their own self-image. This process can lead to unhealthy comparisons and unrealistic expectations of oneself, which can have detrimental effects on mental health.

When Kathrin Karsay, a social psychologist from KU Leuven University in Belgium studies this phenomenon, she found that 47% of 12-to-19-year-olds got their social, professional, sexual and physical goals from Instagram, and the moment they didn’t feel they measure up (not the right outfit, the right supplements, the right Inst-worthy morning, the right body size) that negativity set in.


Most things that matter the most for our health are free - like moving our bodies, sleeping, and managing stress. But we get distracted from them via comparison on social media.

Here are some reflection questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are being affected by internalism when using social media:

  1. Am I constantly comparing myself to others on social media and feeling inadequate or insecure as a result?

  2. Am I adopting beliefs and opinions simply because they are popular or accepted within my social media circle, without critically evaluating them?

  3. Am I shaping my online persona and self-image based on the opinions and feedback of others on social media, rather than being true to myself?

  4. Am I unconsciously assimilating the attitudes and characteristics of others on social media, without realizing how they are affecting my own beliefs and behavior?

  5. Am I using social media as a way to escape from my own problems or difficulties, rather than dealing with them directly?


Social media wellness is often tainted with illusions, such as the frequency illusion and the illusory truth effect. The frequency illusion occurs when users become more aware of a certain thing, leading them to believe that it is happening more often than it actually is. The illusory truth effect refers to the tendency of people to believe something is true merely because it has been repeated often enough.

Frequency Illusion: Imagine you recently started a new wellness routine that includes making smoothies for breakfast every morning. You begin noticing articles, social media posts, and conversations about the benefits of breakfast smoothies everywhere you go. You may even see people sharing smoothie recipes or hear friends talking about how their energy levels have improved since they started this morning ritual. It feels like making smoothies for breakfast is suddenly all around you.

Illusory Truth Effect: As you continue your wellness journey, you decide to learn more about the benefits of breakfast smoothies. You come across an article that claims, "Starting your day with a nutritious smoothie can boost your energy levels by up to 50% in just two weeks!" This statement catches your eye, and because you've been exposed to so many positive mentions of breakfast smoothies recently, you're more likely to accept this claim as true without questioning it.

Here are how these two cognitive biases are at play in this scenario:

  1. Frequency Illusion: The frequency illusion, also known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, occurs when you start noticing something more frequently after you've become aware of it. In this case, it's making smoothies for breakfast. This increased awareness makes it seem like this practice is suddenly more prevalent when, in reality, it was always around; you just didn't notice it as much before.

  2. Illusory Truth Effect: The illusory truth effect is the tendency for people to believe information is true after repeated exposure, even if it's false or unverified. In the context of the wellness example, because you've been exposed to multiple mentions of the benefits of breakfast smoothies, you are more likely to accept and believe claims about their effectiveness without critically evaluating them.

This is just a basic example. There are a lot of these happening. Some less obvious. Cognitive biases can influence our perceptions and decisions, even in the wellness and health domains. It's important to remain critical and seek reliable sources of information

These cognitive biases can influence our perceptions and decisions, even in the wellness and health domains. It's important to remain critical and seek reliable sources of information when evaluating wellness practices and their benefits.


Social media is incredibly tricky place to be if you struggle with your body image and body satisfaction. Women have a hard time with it without the idealized images on social media. 

A study conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in 2021, surveyed 2,033 US adults and found that 91% of women surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with their body image at least once in their lifetime. The study also found that 60% of women reported experiencing disordered eating behaviors and attitudes, such as restrictive dieting, fasting, and bingeing.

The pervasive nature of poor body image and dissatisfaction with body image among women is only heightened when spending time on social media. We can feel it and research shows it.

Research found that women who use social media are more likely to diet or feel pressure to diet to be thin. For example, a study by Perloff, Myszkowski, and Hughes (2016) found that young women who spent more time on social media reported greater pressure to be thin and engage in dieting behaviors. The study also found that social media use was associated with greater exposure to thin-ideal images, which in turn predicted increased body dissatisfaction and disordered eating behaviors.

Another study by Fardouly, Diedrichs, Vartanian, and Halliwell (2015) found that exposure to thin-ideal images on social media was associated with increased body dissatisfaction and negative affect in young adult women. The study also found that women who spent more time on social media reported higher levels of body dissatisfaction and lower levels of self-esteem.

Overall, these studies suggest that social media use can contribute to pressures to diet and be thin, particularly through exposure to idealized images of beauty and body shape. However, it is important to note that social media can also be used as a tool for body positivity and promoting diverse representations of beauty…. But it’s more than likely cultivating comparison and dissatisfaction. 


Here are some reflection questions you can use after spending time on social media can ask yourself to determine if social media is affecting your body image and body satisfaction:

  1. How do I feel about my body after scrolling through social media? Do I feel more negative or critical about my body?

  2. Am I comparing my body to the images I see on social media? Do I feel pressure to look a certain way or achieve a certain body shape or size?

  3. How much time am I spending on social media and how does it impact my self-image? Do I feel like I'm spending too much time scrolling through images of others?

  4. Am I following accounts that promote a diverse range of body shapes and sizes, or am I mostly exposed to images of thin, idealized bodies?

  5. How do I feel about my self-worth after using social media? Do I feel like my value is based on my appearance or how I present myself on social media?

  6. Am I using social media to connect with others and engage in positive interactions, or am I using it to seek validation or compare myself to others?

If you answer these questions and find social media really is impacting how you feel about your body, here are some action steps we recommend to limit social media's impact on your body image:

  1. Limit social media use: Consider reducing the amount of time spent on social media, or taking breaks from social media altogether. This can help reduce exposure to idealized images of beauty and body shape that can contribute to negative body image.

  2. Curate social media feeds: Be intentional about following accounts that promote a diverse range of body shapes and sizes, and unfollow or mute accounts that promote unrealistic beauty standards.

  3. Practice self-compassion: Instead of engaging in negative self-talk, practice self-compassion by acknowledging and accepting imperfections and focusing on positive aspects of the self.

  4. Engage in positive self-care practices: Take time to engage in activities that promote self-care and positive body image, such as exercise, meditation, or creative pursuits.

  5. Seek support: Reach out to friends, family members, or mental health professionals for support and guidance in building a positive body image and reducing the impact of social media on self-esteem.

By reflecting on these questions, you can gain insights into how social media is affecting your body image and body satisfaction, and take steps to promote a healthier relationship with social media and your body image.

To use social media in a healthier way, you need to become aware of all these limitations and take appropriate action. This includes seeking professional advice when necessary, being mindful of internalism and comparison, and being wary of the illusions that can distort reality. You can also take active steps to limit social media use and prioritize your mental and physical well-being by engaging in offline activities and seeking support from real-world communities.

Ultimately, using social media in a healthier way requires balance, mindfulness, and a willingness to prioritize one's own well-being over the allure of social media wellness trends and misinformation.