What’s the first thing you did when you woke up this morning?

And I mean after you pressed the snooze button for the fifth time!

Well, if you answer the same as nearly 75% of my peers, you grabbed your phone and got on the Internet.

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As much as we hate to admit it, social media has a huge impact on all of our lives

Even if you don’t take part in the posting, you see social media everywhere. It’s hard to even go outside without observing someone scroll through his or her Facebook feed or taking selfies to put on Instagram.

This screen time is creeping into every aspect of our lives: from our love lives, to our health and the choices we make. Sites like Instagram can even have a big effect on one’s self-esteem, both positively and negatively.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past five years, you may not know what Instagram is.  So let me explain. Essentially it’s just a smart phone app that allows you to share photos with the world.  But it can be used for so much more.

Let’s talk about the positive affects Instagram can have on your lifestyle

To start with, whom you follow can have a huge impact on the lifestyle you choose to lead. As far as health and fitness goes, there are so many great people to follow who can influence what you eat and how you workout.

I follow a lot of fitness bloggers, and their posts keep me in check with my exercise routine. They motivate me to workout if I’m feeling lazy and give me ideas for new exercises.

If you are trying to lose weight or just trying to keep up with a regular fitness routine, follow some of these people for daily inspiration!

If you are trying to eat healthier, follow accounts that post healthy food options.  Then, every time you tap on your Instagram icon you can see loads of inspiration.

Some of these individuals even post challenges for their followers to help promote exercise or healthy living.

Many smart phones applications can make us lazy.  But if you follow Instagram accounts that post fitness challenges, you may actually become more active.

And then there’s the negative side

If you follow individuals who post nothing but fast food and party pictures – you may start to get influenced by that.

This is where Instagram can become negative.

If you spend a lot of time on the application and follow at lot of uninspiring accounts, you may become uninspired.  There is nothing worse than seeing a picture of a delicious looking dessert while you are trying to eat healthy.

So, if you take something away from this – follow inspiring accounts to keep you inspired.

By following athletes, vegan chefs, great nutritionists and fitness brands you are setting yourself up for success.

Instagram can also be great for sharing stories and getting encouragement from Instagrammers around the world

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I can’t tell you the number of accounts I see of people who post transformation photos and get such positive feedback from complete strangers.  Or of individuals hoping to get healthier, so they post a photo diary of their journey.

This diary can help them track their food intake, motivate their followers and attract positive reinforcement from people who see and comment on their posts.

Instagram can really help boost one’s self-esteem

Most people are not on the application to body shame and disparage other people. For the most part, everyone is encouraging and positive.

I’ve had bad weeks and days where I don’t like how I look. These days can turn around quickly when I check my social media and see that someone has commented on a photo of mine telling me I’m beautiful.

It’s amazing what simple words can do for one’s self-esteem.

Of course though I have to mention, not everyone is nice

Negative feedback is always a possible outcome of sharing personal images with the world.

However, as I said before this population of “trolls” is is tiny minority when compared to people there to share love. But just as one positive comment can change a day, so can a single negative one.

This isn’t the only way Instagram can affect your self-esteem

Instagram is becoming the new method of comparison for both young and old, men and women.

We used to look through magazines and compare our bodies to those of celebrities. But with Instagram, we get to see these photos daily instead of weekly or monthly.

In some instances this is great because you can see your idols without make-up on and in casual clothing.  But a majority of the time, these photos are still very posed and edited with filters and picture editing applications.

Seeing these photos on a daily basis is giving us even more to compare ourselves to.

Our bodies aren’t the only things we are comparing. I like to follow a lot of food bloggers and when they post a picture of their creations, I just sit and wonder why my food never looks the same.

This negative comparison and constant need for likes can be very detrimental to one’s self-esteem.

There are obviously some downfalls to posting your photos on social media. You are putting yourself at high risk for judgment and rude comments.

But there are so many positives that overshadow the potential negatives – Instagram can provide you support. Hashtags like #MotivationMonday and #FitFriday can take you to accounts that will encourage you to be healthy and fit.

If you use Instagram in a positive way, it can very much affect your life positively.

 

Connect with Expert Molly McNamee.

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