Social media is often cited as the reason for the increase in challenges to our mental well being.
I’m sure we can all relate.
Instagram, in particular, has been linked to a rise in depression as we now consistently compare ourselves to the highlight reel of other people’s life.
Speaking to my own life, I was recently horrified when my partner Cameron was telling me about his colleague who had asked him to follow her on Instagram cause she felt like she needed more followers.
This desire for artificial validation of your worth through likes terrifies me.
It is no way to live your life, and it’s not good for your mental wellbeing.
The Desire for Followers
When I’m honest with myself, I must admit that I too have coveted the followers for my Instagram like a bloodthirsty vampire.
But why? Those likes don’t give me anything in the real world.
That’s why now I want to change the narrative.
If you have been reading this post up to this point, you’re probably thinking from all I have said, No Claire, Instagram cannot be good for your mental wellbeing.
But I was telling you about the old me.
Now I want to introduce you to this magical land I have found beneath the likes.
It is a land of community, using technology to inspire people and bring them together genuinely.
I want to thank Instagram for the updates they have done to the algorithm that has led me to this land. This land of better mental wellbeing.
The algorithm gets a bad rep from my fellow bloggers at times, but I think it’s genius. Now we are forced to interact.
Now we are building real connections.
How to Find Community
Instagram wants to surface content that is relevant to the consumer.
It’s as simple as that.
In my bid to become relevant I began to interact more with the people I deemed most relevant in my industry.
This was how I found the magical land.
What started as a desperate bid to be relevant quickly evolved into a daily update from some of my favorite people. A precious opportunity to see how the people who were inspiring me were doing and I noticed the impact on my mental wellbeing.
It became less about numbers and more about relationships.
The first milestone in this journey, was when I started to speak with Alex.
She encouraged me to have the confidence to share some of my ongoing journey with my mental wellbeing, and I’m so glad I did. Sharing parts of something so important to me, then talking about it with other people feeling the same has been a game-changer in my attitude to life.
This kicked off with my post on blogging for mental wellbeing.
How do You Change Your Relationship with Instagram?
I encourage others out there who are struggling with the issues of relevance and like addiction to take the steps I did.
Start interacting more. See it as an opportunity to build community if you can. And if it doesn’t work for you, just get rid of it.
Living for likes is no way to live.
To finish my tale, I want to share with you 3 tips that have really helped me on this journey back to love with Instagram.
1/ Don’t follow people who don’t make you feel good.
This is one I got when listening to one of my favorite podcasts, the Goal Digger from Jenna Kutcher. I feel awful as I forget the episode (if anyone out there knows, please remind me!) but they were talking about Instagram and the point made was you shouldn’t feel like you need to follow people just because they have significant influence.
If something isn’t giving you joy – don’t follow it!
I immediately unfollowed 5 incredible women, and I’ve not looked back. It wasn’t because I didn’t admire them or think they were doing bad stuff, it was just I didn’t need that in my life today.
Let me be real with you – this was pivotal for my mental wellbeing.
2/ Don’t feel like you always have to be present
This is one that I really believe in. The social media world makes you feel like you always need to be present.
If you’re not feeling it one day, one week or one month, just leave it. It will still be there when you get back, and you will be better placed to do it well.
3/ When you find yourself comparing try to change this to inspiring
This is the hardest one for sure.
It’s one I have not mastered.
All I will say is that when you are looking through your feed and you start to feel yourself reaching inwards to that darker place, reach out. Try to connect with the people behind the pictures making you feel inadequate.
Realize they are people just like you with struggles just like you. Make them human and know that your path is just as valuable as theirs.
If that doesn’t work, fuck it, just unfollow them.
I hope that this article has helped you evaluate your relationship with Instagram and you too can see it as a way to find a community for greater mental wellbeing.
It’s not easy living in an ever more connected yet disconnected world, but together I know we can make it.
I have been developing strategies to manage my mental health for a number of years. What I didn’t expect was that blogging would become one of them. Read about how I am using blogging and journaling to support my wellbeing here.