It happens to me more than I care to admit. I hop online to get some inspiration for my classroom, and as I’m searching for ideas, I begin to feel…inadequate. Whether I’m on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, I’m constantly in awe and wonder of what I see from teachers. But it’s hard not to let the social media envy creep in.

How do these teachers have the time to make such picture perfect lessons? How do they teach students all day and still have classrooms that look cooler than most people’s living rooms? What am I doing wrong?

Numerous studies have shown that social media envy is real. The more time we spend on social media, the worse we feel about ourselves! But here’s the irony: Pinterest and other forms of social media can be so useful! I’ve found so many great ideas online. Ideas that have made me a better teacher.

We know that we’re not going to stop scrolling through Pinterest anytime soon, so how do we protect ourselves from the dangerous effects of Pinterest-perfect classrooms, teachers, lessons, and more?

Remember to be a conscious consumer.

It just isn’t realistic for most of us to cut social media out of our lives cold-turkey. Frankly, I don’t even want to. But we can become wiser about when and how we use these resources. If you follow a teacher because her amazingly decorated flexible seating classroom is stunning, but it always makes you feel bad about your classroom, then it’s time to unfollow. If you ever decide you have the time, money, and energy to try flexible seating in your classroom, you can find her again, but if looking at other people’s classrooms makes you feel bad about your own, make a conscious decision to avoid punishing yourself by looking at them over and over again.

Remember to spend time with real people.

Instead of spending a weekday evening scanning Pinterest, make a once-a-month date to go out to dinner with some of your fellow teachers. Having real conversations with other educators will remind you that the vast majority of us are far from perfect and we’re all facing huge challenges and experiencing small successes just like everyone else.

Remember it’s not the whole story.

Have you ever taken a selfie? If so, then you know that most selfies are not “spontaneous” snaps taken without thought and posted carelessly online. We angle ourselves carefully, hold the phone up for the most flattering angle, take multiple photos, and then choose the right filter to hide any flaws. It’s not that the selfie isn’t you. It’s just you after a lot of careful planning and effort. Keep in mind that those beautiful classrooms on Pinterest are exactly the same. Just because we don’t see the ungraded papers shoved in the closet or the completely bare bulletin board behind the photo doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Remember to set realistic goals.

If you find yourself saving a whole bunch of ideas and feeling depressed that so many teachers have better ideas than you do, stop and make a goal to actually try one or two of the ideas you’ve been envying. Love the idea of silent discussion/chalk talks? Try one! Notice that you’re liking photo after photo of classrooms with fairy lights decorating their windowsills? Buy some! Choose one or two things that you really like the most and don’t worry about the rest.

Remember to unplug regularly.

One goal we probably all should set is to disconnect from social media for a bit each week. If you don’t already, choose one night when you decide you won’t get online at all. Read a book, go for a walk, watch a show, but keep the phone and the computer far away. Giving our brain a break from the social media universe will remind us of the far more important world all around us.

How do you deal with social media envy as a teacher? Let us know in the comments below!