Joanna Gaines is getting real about the pressure of social media.
In a new column for Magnolia Journal, the 40-year-old Fixer Upper star reveals the anxiety she's felt from trying to appear perfect on Instagram.
"It wasn't so very long ago that I had only a handful of followers on Instagram," she writes, according to Today. "There wasn't any pressure to post anything at all, so whenever I did, it didn't really cross my mind whether or not people would 'like' it."
As her popularity increased, though, Gaines began to "feel insecurity start to creep in" and realize that she was "letting this small square on my phone become yet another thing to perfect."
"Posting a photo was no longer an act of enjoying the in-the-moments of life but rather a more calculated decision," she writes. "With every picture I found myself critiquing if there were messy backgrounds or blurry smiles. I think this is how we can end up losing sight of what it worthy of sharing and what is even more worthy than that -- moments worth simply experiencing."
After she came to that realization, she began to fight back against allowing "social media to rob us of authentic moments," especially when it came to her five children -- Drake, 13, Ella, 12, Duke, 9, Emmie, 8, and Crew, 7 months -- that she shares with her husband, Chip Gaines.
"There is a certain, creepy allure to a place where we can present ourselves any way we choose with very little accountability," she notes. "What happens when we don't think our 'real life' looks as good as someone else's? We make adjustments -- find better lighting, dress our kids in something nicer, place a vase of fresh flowers in the background, or add the perfect filter."
Gaines has since made it a point to put social media aside "when the red flags of comparison or anxiety begin move in."
"My best next step is to stop scrolling and put my phone away. That's way harder for me to do when I'm not in a great place in my head or heart, but continuing down the rabbit hole never, ever helps a thing," she writes. "I love to snap photos of my kids whenever it's physically possible. My camera roll is constantly full because of it, but when I hear myself start to say something like 'move slightly to the left' just so I can get the perfect angle, that's when I know it's time to check myself."
"Perhaps I'll post that photo in a few days when I have some distance from it and a fresh frame of mind. Or maybe I won't," she adds. "What I can't get back to later is the beautifully imperfect view that's unfolding right in front of me -- no edits required."
Watch the video below for more on the Gaines family: