Social media, what a wonderful way to keep up to date with your pals, have infinite knowledge at the click of a button and lift your spirits via hilarious cat memes. And nowadays, it’s also one of the go-to places for gathering inspiration for your big day. But while Pinterest and Instagram are a magical wonderland of pastel colourways, confetti, rainbow cakes and pom poms galore, there is also the real danger of falling to the dark side: Overwhelm, comparison, despair and a desperate need for validation from strangers.
Let’s take a look at how to stay sane around social media during wedding planning, so that your time online lights you up (like those neon signs you’ve been eyeing up) instead of weighing you down (like your partner’s mate who offered to DJ but has gone rogue on your playlist selection).
The average person in the UK spends 24 hours a week online (twice as long as ten years ago) and on average, checks their phone every 12 minutes! Humans are social animals so it’s no surprise that we’re attracted to social media and the feelings of being connected. So, what happens when we scroll? When we’re checking our social media feeds, we’re triggering the yummy reward centres of our brains. All those comments, likes and follows give us a big dose of dopamine, which makes us feel good. The problem is, we’re all getting way too attached to this pleasure system and it’s leaving us wanting more and more.
And it’s all too easy to think that everyone else is living a life that’s much more fun, colourful and put together than yours.
There are parts of our brains which are super ancient. These parts are all the time thinking about how we’re measuring up in our tribe and cannot differentiate between a photo of your Auntie Beverly (i.e. someone in your tribe) and Beyonce at the Superbowl. Think about that for a moment. This is why we have to get tech savvy around the amount of time and what type of images we’re feeding ourselves.
What can begin as a fun way to collect ideas for your wedding, can easily tail spin into the ‘compare and despair’ trap leaving you feeling like you’re not measuring up against everyone else.
Nothing is more important than your mental health, so do not fear brides-to-be, here are some handy tips to turn your online life from woe to wow.
Daily digital detox
OK, so our phones are our lives (yup, me too) so I’m not suggesting you go live in a cave for six weeks before your wedding, but putting up boundaries is how to stay sane. We don’t need to be seeing what everyone else in the world is planning for their big day 24/7. Too many notifications can trigger a stress response in the brain so putting your phone away is a super-fast way to chill out. See if you can get out of the habit of scrolling first thing in the morning and last thing at night, maybe even stretch yourself to not pick up your phone for at least an hour before you turn the light off.
Remember, social media is only looking at someone else’s highlights reel. No one is showing their mid-week bowl of Weetabix on Instagram, or pinning a photo of their marquee that got so washed out they had to give all their guests wellies (I bet this happened somewhere). Social media is not real life. You are real life and you’re doing a great job. It’s in the small stuff, the moments that aren’t being captured for Facebook posterity, that you’ll find are the most special of your wedding day, trust me.
Follow the ‘house party rule’
My good friend Lucy Sheridan aka The Comparison Coach has this great rule. She says, if you wouldn’t invite that person in for a glass of bubbly round yours, then unfollow them online. We all need to stop pretending that following people who make us feel shit are somehow motivating us. Unfollow babe!
Mood check before you scroll
If you’re already feeling low, don’t go on social media because it’ll only make you feel worse! Instead, think about what would make you feel nice. Do you have anything in your life where you lost track of time? This is called a flow state and it’s where we’re most happy. Got a hobby you enjoy? What about doing more of that! Or for a simple mood boost, crank up your favourite song and dance around your kitchen. Or punch a pillow if you’re feeling ragey and in need of a release.
Hang out IRL
We are in real danger of becoming dependent on social media as our main social outlet, rather than socialising in the actual real world. Don’t let social media trick you into thinking you are being social when in fact you are isolated. Plan something fun with your friends or loved ones in real life.
Remember that Photoshop exists!
Social media gives us unrealistic expectations of body image. The person in the photograph might not even look like the person in the photograph! Instantly improve your mental health by following a heap of new accounts on Instagram, showcasing a variety of different types of bodies. Research says that looking at bodies of people who are the same size as you or bigger, improves body esteem. Instagram accounts I love are @antidietriotclub, @stylemesunday, @bodyposipanda, @virgietovar and @calliethorpe.
Wake up to the sales pitches
Start to examine the content you’re swooning over. Instagram is THE place to go for anyone wanting to sell you a brand, product or service. Be aware that these shiny images are often there to make you part with your cash. Use them as inspiration but don’t allow them to make you feel like your big day plans are coming up short without them.
Being an active participant not a passive scroller
We’ve all been in a scroll trance. This state of passively letting comments and images wash over us is damaging our mental health. Why not use social media as the opportunity to express yourself, your opinions and your creativity? Post and share things that make you feel excited or empowered. Build a community of people you want to hear from. Social media has the power to build genuine connections – be active in creating the online life you want.
Make connections and be respectful
Facebook groups can be an overwhelming melting pot of humanness. While social media can be a community of joy, there’s no doubt it can show up life’s differences too. Be aware that there will be others who have different ideas to you about what should and shouldn’t be part of a wedding. Tolerance of others’ opinions, experiences and cultures should be respected as if we were all hanging out IRL. I would always say don’t feed the trolls, but if it’s simply a matter of differing opinions, why not see it as an opportunity for learning about yourself and each other? Always be kind and curious but if a group or discussion isn’t making you feel good then step away. Go and join the Rock n Roll Bride group for a bevy of incredible babes and all your new wedding planning BFFs!
Get out into nature
Does what it says on the tin: Green is good for our brains and our nervous systems. Take a walk and leave your phone at home. You might even find you get your best creative idea for those pesky wedding favours that you’ve stressing over.
Your worth is not dependent on people’s opinions
Post the things you like and don’t care so much about what other people think of it. Too often we’re worried that if we share something then it won’t get the ‘likes’, this means we’re stifling our authenticity. Social media needs more realness. It needs you to be beautifully imperfect. If your idea of a good time is something hella weird – then fuck it! Do what you love. The world needs your weird!
You are not the amount of social media friends or followers you have. Let’s stop giving so much power away to others. Be proud of all the imperfections that make up you!
About Harri Rose
Harri Rose is a qualified health coach and mindfulness teacher. She teaches unapologetic body acceptance, self-compassion and creative living. Harri believes that for too long we have been apologising for our bodies – and that diet culture and beauty standards are holding us back. Through her writing, workshops and 1:1 clients, Harri helps people to live their lives without rules and restriction and embrace how amazing they really are.
This article originally appeared in issue 27 of Rock n Roll Bride magazine. You can purchase the latest copy here, or why not subscribe to never miss an issue?