wellness

"Right now, Instagram has never made me feel more inadequate and lonely."

Right now, I’m watching Instagram Stories like they’re the 6pm news.

Whether we’re best mates or work colleagues, or if we crossed paths once eight years ago or have never met, I know how you spent your weekend in isolation because I spent my weekend in isolation watching it unfold on Instagram. And if I’m honest, it made me feel a bit crap.

My weekend wasn’t wholesome or productive. It wasn’t even Instagram-worthy. I spent it consuming packets of BBQ Shapes and Twisties watching The Night Manager, splitting my time commuting between my bed, the couch and the balcony. I’m sure I’m not the only one whose weekend looked like this, or who caught isolation FOMO (fear of missing out) seeing people on social media seemingly living their best lockdown lives.

By around 2pm on Sunday afternoon, I realised I needed to put my phone down and stop comparing myself to everyone else. It worked to an extent, but the feelings of inadequacy and loneliness hung around like a mozzie you can’t seem to catch.

WATCH: Here’s how the different star signs are spending their time in isolation, post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

If now, more than ever, social media is making you feel inadequate about how you’re spending your days self-isolating – or about yourself in general – you’re not alone.

Yes, we’re living through a global pandemic none of us has ever seen the likes of before, but remember: Social media is still a highlights reel. Only now, it’s filled with fewer travel photos and boot camps, and more candles burning, TikTok dances and baking.

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These extended weeks and weekends at home without many of the activities that keep us sane like going to the gym, getting dinner with friends, popping around to see your parents or even going to a cafe to read a book have forced us to take up things we might’ve always wanted to do but were ‘too busy’.

Knitting. Learning a language. Journaling. Colouring in. Meditating. Baking sourdough. Painting. Cross stitching.

All of these things are productive and comforting, and can help us navigate through these uncertain times by serving as brilliant distractions from the news. It’s also just as productive and comforting to give them up after five minutes and return to the couch to inhale a good book or binge an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy.

To anyone who, like me, spent the weekend scrolling through social media feeling the worst kind of FOMO – the type that makes you feel alone, lazy, sh*tty or worthless – know you don’t have to ‘make the most’ of isolation. Even if Instagram is making you feel like it.

A young plussize women looking her phone in the night
"Social media is still just a highlights reel, even during a global pandemic. So if you're feeling inadequate about how you're spending your weekends in isolation, know you're not alone." Image: Getty.

It's OK if you don't have a big group of friends to have drinks with on the Houseparty app. Some of us can count our friends on one hand, or have lots of friends who aren't friends with each other. But the idea of quality versus quantity still applies to how many people are on your video call.

It's OK not to use this time in self-isolation to start a fitness challenge or a detox diet. If working out was a big part of your daily life before our new normal, doing whatever you can to keep that up is a necessary step to looking after your mental and physical health. If it wasn't, don't feel like you have to buy weights and sign up to a 14-day ISO workout challenge. Do it if you want to, but know a walk around the block for fresh air, some stretches in the morning or a side of veggies with dinner are good enough, too.

If you gave mindfulness activities like colouring in, cooking, meditating, yoga or doing a face mask a try and realised they're not doing it for you, that's totally fine. What soothes one person's soul might not soothe yours.

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Learning to bake bread from scratch and making your own pasta are fun (and delicious) hobbies to pass the time, but know you can still cook pasta out of the packet if you want to. If you can find some, that is.

It's OK if your working from home space doesn't look like a chic, leafy sanctuary with incense burning and a soothing soundtrack playing in the background. Having a tidy, productive workspace pimped with artwork and natural light is the dream. But life is messy, especially when the four walls you live in are now a house, an office, a gym, a playground, a school and a restaurant. It's fine if your workspace features a stack of laundry in one corner and smears of bolognese on the table from last night's dinner.

LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud podcast is putting words around how we're all feeling during this COVID-19 reality. Get in your ears below, post continues after audio.

You're not failing if your weekends look like wearing pyjamas, not washing your hair, eating chips, watching a TV show for six hours straight, or staying in bed all day.

You're not doing 'isolation wrong' if popping out to the letterbox to check your mail is your only exercise for the day, if your meals wouldn't look great on your feed or you don't have people to do video chat wines with.

Do whatever it takes for you to get by, Insta-worthy or otherwise. Because you don't need to come out of these times a better version of you. You just need to come through this, full stop.

Feature image: Getty.

If you need support during these times, please reach out. If you’re based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.

Are you finding social media is making you feel a certain way about your own self-isolation? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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