Aaron Clark, Co-Founder Mental Health Muscle,
Over the last decade, social media has become an integral and dominant platform for the fitness industry.
The strong relationship that millions of individuals have built with outlets such as Instagram and Facebook is truly incredible.
As stated by a very close friend of the Mental Health Muscle group,
Social media can be an amazing tool when used correctly, just like a hammer in real life can. Without the right guidance and in the wrong hands it can cause a lot of pain and create issues.
Maintaining and improving our mental health is every bit as important as our physical but without stability in our mental health our physical health will suffer”
(Andrew Keiller, @arknutrition, 2018)
This article provides me with a great opportunity to look at personal identity and the gateway that social media presents individuals in seeking clarification, accountability and approval from others in the industry.
Our identity encompasses the way we think about ourselves and how we are viewed in a social environment – that in question today, social media.
- Who are you?
- What do you like?
- What don't you like?
- Where do you want to be?
- Why are you using social media?
The role of control
Importantly, we can explore this further by looking at the aspects about our lives that we ‘can’ control and ‘cannot’ control.
Our mental health can be improved by looking at the things we can control, but in contrast those things we cannot control can have a detrimental effect on our state of mind.
This is something evident across the board – I see it with young people we work with, posts from individuals all over Instagram and with indecisive, spontaneous and uneducated actions happening on a daily basis.
Our identity can be validated through the amount of likes we receive on a photograph or post, the number of followers we may or may not obtain and the interactions we have with others on social media.
It is often likely that the people we ‘crave’ gratification from are those that portray a perfect lifestyle and give us unrealistic aspirations which can lead to an unfortunate turn in negative mental wellbeing.
Fitness goals that started out as simply to lose a few pounds very quickly turn into losing a few stone, with no focus on whether that is possible for the individual or indeed their personal identity.
But because someone somewhere on Instagram states it's possible and you see the results that they have gained, you’re influenced immediately.
It's okay to be an individual
Your goals will be different to many and that is fine – it's okay to have a different outlook on your fitness journey to that of someone else. As long as you are staying true to who you are and what you want to achieve then you can maintain a positive relationship between yourself and social media.
Here you will find yourself being inspired, not influenced; motivated, not manoeuvred; driven to achieve, not driven to avoid.
The powerful tool of social media is constantly impacting upon your thinking and your development, do everything you can to stay in control of your chosen pathway using the external influences as fuel, not fire.