Valentine's Day Self-Care: Stay Far Away From Instagram

It will bring you nothing but pain.
Congratulations on having the perfect relationship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Congratulations on having the perfect relationship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Welcome to HuffPost Canada’s guide to helping you pick up an easy, everyday ritual that can make your life a bit better, in a small but significant way.

Canadians are stressed out, anxious, and are feeling disconnected from each other. Once a week (or on special holidays!), we’ll share a tiny tip to help you feel good. We’ve got your back.

Today’s habit

Stay off Instagram on Valentine’s Day.

What it is

As the short stories I wrote as a teenager can tragically prove, I’ve always had complicated feelings about Valentine’s Day. For a while this meant I spent the day railing against the false, performative shows of affection that bolstered the greeting card industry and inspired people to buy red roses that are probably destroying the planet.

“Why can’t people show love and affection every day, not just on the day they’re supposed to?” I snottily demanded, probably earning several eye-rolls from whoever was unlucky enough to be around me.

Me, scrolling joylessly through Instagram instead of getting on with my day because my brain is broken. (Just kidding, my eyebrows aren't nearly this good. I do have these sheets, though.)
Me, scrolling joylessly through Instagram instead of getting on with my day because my brain is broken. (Just kidding, my eyebrows aren't nearly this good. I do have these sheets, though.)

Now that I’m on the side of being happily coupled, I can report that that doesn’t erase the Valentine’s headache, either.

So far, I’ve opted to either assure my partner that I didn’t care about it and then surprise myself by feeling, shamefully, a little sad that he didn’t acknowledge it when I specifically asked him not to, or go full-fledged into cheesy Valentine’s Day dinner reservation mode, and feel deep disgrace at the prospect that deep down, I’m super basic, after all.

So, essentially: don’t be like me. Un-complicate your life. If you’re someone at all prone to feeling Valentine’s Day angst, of any variety, just stay off social media — especially Insta.

For whenever you’re feeling

If you’re slightly insecure about any aspect of yourself or your relationship, or know that there’s even a remote chance that insecurity about yourself or your relationship may creep into your life, just stay off Instagram.

Whether you’re happily or unhappily single, happily or unhappily coupled, or in one of those confusing, “I’m not sure what’s going on” scenarios, it’s just the safer choice.

How it can help

Heavy internet use has been linked to depression, and according to a 2017 study, Instagram is the worst social media platform for young people’s mental health.

Part of what got it those low marks was its tendency to cause “fear of missing out” and its link to anxiety. Seeing other people’s highly curated highlights of the best parts of their lives can set unrealistic expectations and cause people to feel inadequate, the study’s authors said.

Most people’s accounts of how great their lives are, are both an exaggeration and incomplete. The small and specific bit that people choose to share is basically constructed to make us feel bad, Princeton University psychologist Susan Fiske told Psychology Today.

Here are some more small things you can do to make your day better. Story continues after slideshow.

Easy Tips To Help Lift Your Mood

Social media “creates a tsunami of excess information at warp speed, which could intensify the effects,” Fiske explained. She also coined a term to describe the “comparison trap” that can come from prolonged social media exposure: “envy up, scorn down.”

This is true generally. But on Valentine’s Day, a day whose entire purpose is putting pressure on romantic relationships, I can only imagine how destructive that tendency we all have to compare our lives to other people’s must be.

Unplugging from social media has been shown to improve our sleep, potentially lower our anxiety levels, move around more, and be more mindful. On a day that’s already super-charged with societal pressure, those are all things that could absolutely help.

Essentially, Valentine’s Day is stressful enough. Don’t let Instagram make it even worse.

And that’s your habit of the day.

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