Comparing Yourself To So-Called Perfect Lives On The Internet Isn't Healthy. Here's How To Stop

Have you ever scrolled through social media and noticed how seemingly perfect other people's lives are? Your timeline is full of gorgeous humans with smooth skin, tiny waists, and pearly, blinding smiles. An acquaintance you follow is getting engaged, another is traveling the world, and someone else just landed their dream job. You look in the mirror at the new acne breakout on your chin. You just paid a bill that took your bank account below $50, and your left ring finger is very, very bare. Why are they the lucky ones?

It's easy to ask that question when comparing the dirty details of your personal life to the carefully curated highlight reel of another's. In fact, the act of comparing yourself to others goes back long before the internet was even invented, with the "social comparison theory" established in 1954 (via Psychology Today). This action of defining your own self-worth based on the comparisons of others is a natural part of the human experience. However, social media definitely makes it tremendously easier to do so.

When the constant comparison begins to take a toll on your mental health, it's time to stop. While that's way easier said than done, there are things you can implement into your daily social media habits to get back on a healthy course and refrain from comparing yourself to so-called perfect lives on the internet. Here's how you can get there.

Understand that social media isn't real, and clean up your friends list

The first thing you should do when face to face with the green-eyed monster while scrolling through social media is to understand that none of it is actually real. It's a "snippet of a moment, not the fully fleshed out reality," Janelle S. Peifer, a licensed clinical psychologist, told SELF. Understand that you don't really know what living in that person's world is like. You just see what they choose for you to see -– so of course, it's going to be a pretty sight!

It's easy to create a fantasy in your head of what you think another person's life is like. In reality, you see a fraction of a second of their day. Instead, scroll through that app with a different mindset, understanding that the things you see on social media are not a complete portrayal of someone's life, no matter how much it seems like it is. Remember, the perfect life does not exist.

Then, for your own sanity, clean up that timeline. Unfollow or mute those who trigger your habit of comparing, and don't feel sorry about it. We recommend following people on social media who align better with your lifestyle and aren't afraid to highlight the negative aspects of their lives, not just the exciting, glamorous, happy ones. When you virtually remove those who trigger you, your social media experience will be much healthier.

Limit your social media usage and reflect on your own lovely qualities

If you find that you can hardly get on social media anymore without constantly comparing yourself to others, it may be time to step away from certain platforms or limit the amount of time you spend on them. It's easy to scroll aimlessly while at the dinner table or spending time with friends, but being in the moment and putting the phone down can certainly help. Perhaps it's time to soul search as to why you feel that ever-so-common urge to always check your phone and find other solutions to fill that time instead.

"The problem with comparing ourselves to someone else's perceived success is that it takes our focus and energy away from our own goals and progress," Hannah Martin, founder of the Talented Ladies' Club, told NetDoctor. So, instead of focusing heavily on the curated snippets of social media users, look at how far you've come to get where you are today. Jotting down some of your favorite things about yourself and journaling your achievements may also help. Place your energy into the things you can control and watch that self-worth rise.