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Before criticizing your daughter or friend the next time they take a selfie, you might want to think again. If you feel selfies are for vain or self-absorbed people, it might be good to step back and take a look at “the whole picture” and find out that selfies may be beneficial for boosting self-esteem.

New scientific research found that taking selfies has a positive effect on long-term mental health. Psychologists at the University of California split students (male and female) into three groups and watched them go about their usual daily routines for four weeks. One group was instructed to take smiling selfies, another took pictures of objects or places that made them happy, and the last group took pictures of something that would make somebody else happy. The results found the group that took selfies was more confident in themselves and happier in the long run.

Check out five reasons why taking selfies is a bonus for overall, enhanced mental health:

Confidence

Taking selfies of a new lipstick shade, a great outfit or a unique accessory can work to increase happy feelings. Contrary to discounting the selfies as self-absorption, the resulting images can teach individuals to accept themselves visually and emotionally.

Love Yourself

In some selfies, people are unhappy with one or more things about their faces, whether it’s the size of a nose or an annoying sprinkling of freckles. Then, there are times when a selfie looks great and all the “stars are aligned” perfectly. Taking the good with the bad helps people learn to appreciate themselves little by little.

Capture an Emotional Moment

Selfies can document those moments in life to remember forever. A dream vacation, the proposal of marriage or pride in a job well done—selfies archive them all. When looking back, some of life’s greatest joys can be relived.

Self-Expression & Exploration

Looking at selfies can tell a lot about the real person. If somebody is always in a friend group, they may be a social butterfly. If another person likes taking selfies with food, they may be an aspiring chef. Selfies can help to provide a glimpse into what makes people tick and interests they may not have known.

Artistic

Many photo editing programs and apps are available for lighting and warmth, giving the selfie-taker avenues to become more artistic. There’s also the opportunity to find out what type of photo subjects and different angles they prefer. The Smartphone can be a “window into the soul” and an artistic outlet.

So, what are you waiting for? Take those selfies to boost confidence, document celebrations and explore your creative side.

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