Maintaining Recovery in the Age of Ads and Social Media

We’re barely a month into the new year and no matter where you turn, it’s hard to to ignore some form of marketing suggesting that we aren’t good enough.  I turn on my TV just to see an advertisement for the local gym to help you achieve your weight loss goals. Later, I hop onto Facebook just to see another annoying post from a pyramid scheme weight loss product. I drive to the store and the radio has an advertisement encouraging me to join a gym by the end of the month so I can “be my best self”.

I’m all about being healthy and making positive changes for my mental and physical health. But, if any of these suggestions cause me increased anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, or physical pain, then that is a giant red flag that these advertisements are not in fact, encouraging a positive change for me.

Back in the 1970’s, we were exposed to somewhere around 500 advertisements per day. However, with the increase in television and radio ads, branding and logos, and probably the biggest one – social media, today the average person is exposed to 5,000+ ads per day. 5,000! That’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

So, what can we do to navigate around various forms of social media and advertising we find triggering and harmful to our recovery?

  1. Put yourself first. If you find something someone is posting on your social media triggering do not hesitate to unfollow the page or friend. This is a permanent way to cut these messages out and the other party won’t even know that you’ve distanced yourself.  When we continue to follow groups that are posting triggering things and they are flooding our mini-feeds on a regular basis our brains continue to process these triggers that can feed our EDs.
  2. If you’re having a rough day, try to avoid unnecessary advertisements. Instead of turning on your TV, put on movie, Netflix, or dive right into a good book. The same goes for tuning out of your radio. There are many various facets you can use to listen to your favorite songs while avoiding advertisements. Keep some previously downloaded songs close by.
  3. As far as social media goes, I would like to challenge you to follow more recovery focused people and sites. Recovery Warriors, Bodyposipanda, and Fueling Strength are a few of our favorites. The more you follow the more will pop up on your mini-feeds and can act as positive affirmations and a reminder of a helpful source to go to when looking for more information.


This is your recovery, make sure you’re a part of it!


Alicia Jennerjohn, RDN, CD