Since social media can change the appearance of just about everything, there can definitely be a letdown when we see well-known locations IRL. It just doesn’t look the same and it can feel disappointing. In fact, in the world of social media, any type of comparison, for better or for worse, is linked to depressive symptoms.

However, there are ways to make the present moment just as colorful as any Instagram feed.

What IRL is trying to tell us

The emergence of the abbreviation IRL (In Real Life) suggests that people are becoming more and more aware of social media’s falseness. But it goes further than that. Now, we’re not just saying a difference exists. Now, we want to draw a clear distinction between real life and social media.

But that doesn’t make social media any less powerful when it comes to influencing how we perceive people, places and things. Sure, you know that most images are filtered and edited, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to like the original.

And there may truly exist The 10 Most Instragrammable Spots in Chicago, but will they live up to their filtered reputation once you finally make it there? Read these five tips to feel more gratification and less letdown despite social media.

Put your iPhone down

When you arrive at your final destination, you may be tempted to whip out your iPhone and snap dozens of shots. You’ll use one of the many pictures to show all your followers that you were there. But why not check out “there” while you’re actually there?

What would you be able to say to others about it? If you had a blog, how would you actually describe it sans images?

Read about your destination, instead of scrolling

When planning an outing or a vacation, we usually head straight to bloggers, vloggers, Instagram and Pinterest. There, we get a sneak peak into someone else’s highlight reel and prepare our own dream outing.

And even though it may seem impossible to do so, try to turn a blind eye to pictures and instead turn to the written world. It will spark your imagination and make you curious. Once you finally arrive, you’ll bring child-like awe and wonder with you.

A fun way to prep for your next trip is to read travel memoirs. They’re enriching, enlightening and usually highly descriptive.

Practice mindfulness and meditation

Let’s be honest. What isn’t meditation and mindfulness good for? It can help you become more present in the here and now, and you will start to look at everyone (and thing) with more objectivity, less judgement and a whole lot more appreciation. Just 5 to 10 minutes a day can make a big difference in how you see IRL experiences.

Cultivate a gratitude practice

When you’re grateful for little things, you’ll have “Thank you!” on repeat when you’re out and about. It won’t matter if the streets of Paris don’t look quite as magical as they did online. You’ll see them with a fresh and grateful perspective. Tres chic!

The 5 Minute Journal is an easy way to kickstart your gratitude practice. Plus, it’s easy to pack in your carry-on, too!

Do the 5-Senses Scan

Since we’re virtually attached to our smart phones, it can feel super strange to put them away and explore the world without them. But when you do, there’s one thing you’ve still got: your body.

When you arrive somewhere new, take a moment to do a 5-Senses Scan, which is just a fancy way to say: pay attention to what each of your five senses notices. What sounds do you hear? What aromas fill the air? How does your body feel? Relaxed, tense, jittery?

Your five senses tell you something about your location. And when you take some time to listen to your body, you can really amp up your experience.

These five easy suggestions can transform IRL moments and help you engage in a more meaningful and colorful way. Bon voyage!

Between 2010 and 2015, the mental health of US teens absolutely plummeted. Depression rates rose by 33 percent. Attempted suicide went up 23 percent, and suicides themselves rose 31 percent. But what in the world happened during these five years to leave us with such devastating figures? Research is pointing to the smartphone. Does too much screen time put some teens at risk for mental health issues like depression? Find out below.

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