Do you have lifestyle envy?
Do you often fall down the social media rabbit hole, comparing your life to that of others on social media?
Are you satisfied with your body as it is today? Or are you convinced that losing more weight, doing more exercise and increasing muscle tone is what you need to finally feel the contentment you’ve been longing for?
Do you scroll through pretty photos of bikini bodies, home decor, pristine kitchens, picture-perfect family vacations and post-workout selfies only to be left feeling inadequate, insecure and discontent?
If so, then it sounds like you’ve caught a bad case of lifestyle envy my friend, and you’re not alone.
There’s an epidemic of lifestyle envy going around and if you ask me, it’s only getting worse. It first hit me when more and more clients would walk into my office showing me pictures of strangers on their Instagram feeds and saying “this is what I want to look like”. Or more recently when friends would ask me how I balance it all since from the looks of it, I seem to have the new mom thing totally figured out when in reality, I feel like I’m flying by the seat of my pants most days.
Although it isn’t life-threatening, lifestyle envy can have a pretty devastating impact on your quality of life. And you should know, it’s highly contagious. So before passing your lifestyle envy along to others on your path, do your civic duty and keep on reading.
Social media VS reality
So how did you catch it? In a world where stories get twisted and turned in the name of journalism, photos get retouched and resized in the name of fashion, selfies get filtered and face-tuned in the name of branding and reality shows are staged and scripted in the name of television…there’ a LOT to live up to. Exposure to highly filtered media causes us to compare the behind the scenes of our lives to the shiny front end of another’s. This comparison can become toxic over time, leading to feelings of inadequacy, discontentment and full-fledged lifestyle envy. Don’t be disillusioned. Although the photo you’re gawking looks perfect and effortless, it only captures a moment, not the full story.
Here are some examples:
The lifestyle blogger
- Social media: The feed shows nothing but perfectly put-together outfits and selfies, showcasing luscious hair and poreless skin that leave you thinking: “Man, I really need to get serious about my skincare routine.”
- Reality: The selfie you see was one out of 20 (or more) similar shots, chosen because the angle was most flattering. The pic was then edited in an app that makes skin smoother, hair fuller and teeth whiter. And the skincare secret? A “no-makeup makeup look” that involves approximately $300 worth of Sephora products.
The home decor enthusiast
- Social media: The feed shows light and airy photos of a home with jaw-dropping furniture, perfectly styled shelves and a calming minimalist vibe that makes your home look like a war-zone when you look up from your screen.
- Reality: The photos are styled before being shot and brightened before being posted to purposely evoke that feeling when scrolling through the feed. Just remember that behind the lens is usually messier than what you see.
The fitness model/guru/expert
- Social media: The feed is a display of swimwear, six-packs and sweaty selfies that leave you wondering which new workout program or diet you can start to look like that.
- Reality: First, remember that posing, lighting and photoshop can make a world of difference for someone’s appearance. But beyond that, it’s important to recognize that fitness models do not build their bodies in 21 days. After years of strength training, fitness models prep for shoots and competitions through weeks of restrictive dieting, carbohydrate cycling, exercising 6 days per week for 2 hours per day, sodium and hydration manipulation, spray tans, posing practice and a pre-shoot workout routine that pumps the right muscles for the shot. All this for a look that is usually maintained for the day of the photoshoot.
Since becoming a mom, I’m basically living off dry shampoo, scrunchies and two outfits because a ) they fit and b ) they aren’t milk stained. Every day I’m trying to figure out something new, whether it be how to soothe colic or clear blocked ducts while simultaneously trying to find time to unload and reload the dishwasher (silently), get a wash going, upload the blog and tidy-up. That being said, life with a newborn is the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced, although it doesn’t always look so put together behind the scenes. This is what I tell myself when I see my Instagram feed flooded with pictures of blissful looking mamas, stunning post-partum body transformations, and women who look like they constantly have their stuff together.
My Instagram feed is not an accurate representation of my daily life. Most of the time, my meals are not photogenic. Sometimes, after taking a food photo, I toss everything together in a big steel bowl because, although it looks nicer in a photo to have the ingredients compartmentalized, I don’t like eating it that way. Not to mention I often find myself reheating my food because by the time I got the shot, it got cold.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for social media. It’s my livelihood and it has made it possible for me to connect with you in so many ways. It’s just important to remember that I, like the examples above, curate the content you see. I style posts, brighten my photos and edit them because, well, it’s food, and it’s just more appealing that way. This is not to trick you into thinking that food needs to be perfectly plated to be enjoyed but rather because I am passionate about food photography and wellness and hope that pretty photos can inspire you to hit a farmer’s market, move your body or throw-down in the kitchen.
There’s nothing wrong with filtering content or social media marketing, it’s just up to us to build awareness and remember that there is a veil between what you see and what is real. But just in case you have trouble remembering this fact, I’ve got some tips for you to keep your social media perusing positive and kick lifestyle envy to the curb.
Tips To Cure Your Lifestyle Envy
1. Perform A Deep Detox
The first step to curing lifestyle envy is going to the root of the problem and ripping out the weeds with a deep media detox. I did this last week and although it took me over 2 hours, it was incredibly worth it. It made me realize how much of the content I was subscribed to was actually weighing me down, rather than lifting me up. Here’s how to do it:
- Go through your Facebook, Instagram, Email subscriptions, RSS feeds, Blog subscriptions, podcasts, magazine subscriptions, TV shows and any other form of media you consume and ask yourself: does this friend/person/brand leave me feeling tired or inspired? Do they lift you up or weigh you down?
- Inspiring content: This content should put a smile on your face, lift you up, leave you feeling positive, worthy and be the source of a future healthy habit like self-care. Be mindful: Know the difference between an inspiring social media account and an unrealistic one.
- Tiring content: This content will weigh you down, leave you feeling inadequate and insecure and be the source of a future destructive behaviour like restricting your food intake, overexercising, overeating or spending money on something you don’t need.
2. Audit your social circle
Theodore Roosevelt was spot-on when he said that comparison is the thief of joy. Which is why you need to take a hard look at your social circle and determine which muscle they flex: the comparison muscle or the celebration muscle? If you surround yourself with people who spend their time comparing and criticising others, you will reinforce this same thought pattern within yourself. Surround yourself with people who celebrate others instead.
3. Designate a tech-free day
I know, I know. It’s a tough one, but it will do you good. Creating distance between tech and your real life is important to build more presence in your day and most importantly, connection with people that matter. The more often you separate yourself, the more likely you are to remember who you are truly trying to please. Can’t swing a full tech-free day? Start with half.
4. Perform Gratitude Push-Ups
Last but not least, if all else fails and you can’t help but feel discontent, try a dose of gratitude. Few things shift your perspective as quickly and effectively as mindfully recognizing the things in your life and aspects of yourself that you are grateful for. I recommend gratitude push-ups on a daily basis.
Let’s start now. Drop and give me 10.
Now I want to hear from you in the comments below:
Do you suffer from lifestyle envy? What are you grateful for today?