Instagram. If you’re reading this blog post right now, I can guess that you have the app on your phone and probably spend quite a significant amount of time on it every day. Even though Instagram has been around for 10 years now, it’s fairly new in the world of the internet and socializing online and it’s ever changing so it’s hard to know how to use it the right way.
If you’re like me, you’ve compared yourself to and resented others on Instagram many, many times. Sometimes, it can just put us in a bad mood all together as we end up disliking ourselves and wishing we were someone else.
This comparison to others is a very common thing to do. In a previous blog post I spoke about how Instagram distorts the truth and makes us look at our own lives compared to someone’s Instagram-worthy life. Having used Instagram for a long time as a creative outlet and to connect with others, I feel like I have finally learned how to view Instagram – as the highlights of someone’s life and not the truth.
No-one’s life is Instagram worthy all the time, it’s unrealistic to compare our full life to someone’s Instagram life.
If I do a quick Google search about mental health and Instagram, the majority of results will advise me to take a break from the app all together. This is something I completely agree with when its needed, but if you’re like me and actually enjoy Instagram and find it fun and inspirational, it can be hard to take this on board. Instead I feel like we need a plan to use Instagram in a healthier way so that we can still enjoy it without feeling as bogged down by it. This is why I’ve decided to write this post! Today I’m bringing you my tips on how to use Instagram in a positive way.
Have An Instagram Following Clear Out
This is definitely my number one piece of advice if you’re trying to be more positive on Instagram. If you’re following people that don’t make you feel good, how can you expect to enjoy and feel happy about your feed? No offence to the people I unfollow, but I like to go through my followers every month or so and feels great to unfollow the accounts that don’t make me smile, trigger negative thoughts or don’t interest me any longer. There are times when I scroll past posts and I pay absolutely no attention at all. What is the point in following that account if I’m not getting anything from it? It’s draining.
I highly recommend you try clearing out your Instagram by unfollowing accounts that no longer serve you. Ask yourself the following questions; Do I engage with this person on Instagram? Do I enjoy their content? Am I interested in their content? Do I know them in real life? If the answer is no to most of these, then maybe it’s time to consider pressing unfollow. Don’t forget you can always re-follow someone if you miss their content.
The mute button exists for a good reason too. If you still want to follow someone but you just don’t want to see their posts, mute them!
Remember, it’s ok to need a break from certain people on Instagram. If you’re not in that headspace then unfollow them until you feel up to it again. Nothing is set in stone.
Follow The Right People On Instagram
Leading on from my first tip, once you’ve had your clear out feel free to fill your follower list back up again with accounts that make you feel good. A great place to start is by following hashtags because you can find so much inspiration and happiness from them. I can’t resist a good book flatlay which is why I follow #bookflatlay, as well as #cats #yoga #bookreviews and #veganbeauty to name a few others!
It might sound ridiculous, but I’m quite strict about who I follow. I might follow someone new, but if I’m not enjoying their account within a week I’ll probably unfollow it again. It just drains me and can put me in a dull mood. If I’m not interested by their posts in some way or if I can’t gather inspiration I don’t see the point.
Choose accounts that make you smile, feel motivated and happy. This is what Instagram is for! Its so wonderful that we can connect with so many people like ourselves, so go on the hunt to find some accounts you love and always look out for someone new.
Stop Wasting Valuable Time
I often find myself endlessly scrolling, viewing Instagram stories that don’t interest me, or closing and reopening the app over and over again amongst other things. This is a total waste of time. I tend to do this most when I’m procrastinating, or in between tasks and it doesn’t help any situation.
There is a fine line between engaging with the content on your feed and just scrolling because you’re bored and can’t be bothered moving on. Think of all of the things you could be doing instead – you probably could have done the very task that you’ve been putting off!
Instead of doing this, consider setting yourself time throughout the day to scroll and engage, and leave the app alone otherwise unless you have something to say or post.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Doing something that scares you isn’t easy. It’s a really brave thing to do. But it can feel liberating to post a picture of yourself when you’re feeling vulnerable or a tad bit out of the comfort zone.
In the past I have found myself wanting to be that confident person who is ready to be there for a snap whenever possible, but when it came down to looking at the pictures I would detest the way I looked and would scrutinise every single little thing, leading me to dread taking more pictures again. This got me into a catch-22 situation because I wanted to put myself out there but my confidence was stopping me. Low self-confidence is a serious issue and can’t always be fixed by ‘just doing it,’ but in my case, it worked! I just bit the bullet and posted something, and I felt so much better for it. I figured that I could always delete it.
If you’re wanting to give this a try, I recommend you start small. For example I would HATE posting pictures of me smiling coz I thought I looked stupid. I think I suit a moody face more and that’s fine, but it’s good to mix it up and do something different. So the other day I posted a rare pic of me grinning and ever since I have found more confidence to smile more.
On a similar note, I think it’s important to share the rawness of your daily life, just as it is to show your best life. Show people you’re only human too and be vulnerable. Combine that with a caption about something important to you and people will be interested!
View this post on Instagram
Share Your Content For The Right Reasons
One of the reasons why I used Instagram to begin with (and still do now) was to share my life and document it with pretty pictures. I would post pictures because I liked them and thought they were aesthetically pleasing. And now, I look through my feed and think “I loved that time in my life” or “that was an amazing day and I’d like to do that again” and those feelings can make me feel great. I can also look back and see how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve improved. I even look back on my posts from just one year ago and think how much I have changed in the way I take my pictures and write captions.
This is the great thing about Instagram, but there is a dark side…
If you’re using Instagram for the wrong reasons, it can be toxic. None of us can deny that it feels lovely when people like and comment on our pictures because people are thinking of us and paying attention to us. That’s a wonderful feeling. But if you’re using that feeling as the only way to make you happy, that’s when it becomes a problem because it never is enough. Sharing yourself on Instagram just for likes isn’t healthy, nor is it sustainable.
Instead, focus on your passions and connecting with other people like you. That’s what social media is all about. Have a good reason for using the platform. You can gather inspiration, find out about new brands and products, meet new people, discover new books and learn things. There are so many reasons to use the app. Or you could just simply connect with friends and share your happy moments.
Be Friendly, Support Others And Spread Love
Perhaps the most important thing is to share and spread love. Here are some amazing ways you can have fun on Instagram:
- Show support for your friends and family by reposting/liking/commenting on their posts
- Share a small business you support
- Donate to a charity and encourage others to do so also
- Share some knowledge and tips
- Message someone who is having a hard time
- Catch up with a friend
- Be honest about your feelings
- Create a visual diary on your feed
- Start a post series
And that ends my tips on how to use Instagram for mental health. I would be over the moon if these tips helped you so please let me know if they did over on Instagram or in the comments. Have a lovely day x
ps. I wasn’t too keen on these pictures but Phil said I looked sassy so there they are.