How I Stopped Instagram from Taking Over My Life
A platform meant for connecting made me feel alone, desperate, and less than.
Instagram. Omnipresent, ubiquitous. Intrusive. Everyone has it, and everyone hates it. But everyone also loves it. How did one platform — one platform meant for connection, for sharing moments — become such a staple in the everyday lives of consumers?
It’s become, in fact, such a staple that people turn to the app for everything. Advice, condolences, comfort, support, attention, love, humor. … You name it, people go to Instagram for it.
"I was hoping people on the internet would quell the poor feelings I had about myself."
I was like that at one point: I opened Instagram on my phone every time I felt “off” — namely, whenever I felt lonely or bored. When I was unoccupied, Instagram would occupy me. This was fine ... until it wasn’t.
This was fine until I found myself turning to Instagram to validate every feeling I had, until I found myself turning to Instagram as a way to process emotions.
I was on Instagram every day, posting bright photos with happy captions when I felt sad, angry, or anxious. I was doom-scrolling through my Explore page when I felt uncomfortable in my body. You can probably imagine that the thousands of perfectly curated photos of perfect bodies didn’t help.
I was posting in hopes that people would comment and say I’m so pretty, so successful, so fit. I was hoping people on the internet would quell the poor feelings I had about myself. And I was scrolling in hopes that I’d glean some nuggets of advice or some inspiration that would push me in the direction I wanted to go.
What I was really doing, however, was shoving myself deeper and deeper into a spiraling pit of despair about what I wasn’t and what I didn’t think I could be. You know how it goes: I’ll never be that attractive, that successful, that smart, that loved.
Finally, I decided to take control of the situation and stop allowing an app to dictate the way I felt about myself. Here’s what I did (and what you can do, too).
Mute Your Notifications
This was the first step I took, and to date I think it’s the most important. You won’t feel such a strong urge to check Instagram every 30 seconds if you don’t have push notifications popping up every 30 seconds. I mean, come on — do we really need to know every single time a person likes our photo? That’s overkill. Mute your notifications and you will instantly spend less time on the app.
Set a Timer Every Time You Log on to the App
It’s way too easy to start scrolling on Instagram and end up 87 weeks deep into the profile of a travel blogger you’ve never met (and probably never will). To prevent scenarios like this, set a timer on your phone before you log on to the app. Giving yourself a hard time limit helps you stay on track with the rest of your day and keeps you from doom-scrolling yourself into sadness.
Purge Your Following List
You have the power to control what you see on your Instagram timeline. Instagram can be a bright, fun, inspiring place, or it can be a dark, overwhelming, shaming place. If you feel like crap every time you close the Instagram app on your phone, something isn’t right.
Who can you unfollow that makes you feel bad about yourself?
Go through your following list and hit the unfollow button on all accounts that make you feel anxious, stressed, sad, angry, shameful, or, quite frankly, anything other than happy and inspired. This goes even for people you know in real life.
Schedule Instagram Time in Your Calendar
Pretend that Instagram is someone you must meet with (even better if it’s someone you dread meeting with). Block out time in your calendar for focused Instagram time and respect it. Show up when you’re supposed to and leave when you’re supposed to.
You can schedule your Instagram meetings however you like. I like to schedule one 30-minute Instagram meeting after lunch because I’m usually feeling unfocused at that time and prefer to do something that doesn’t take much brain power. Perhaps setting three 10-minute Instagram meetings or two 15-minute Instagram meetings throughout the day will work better for you.
However you schedule it, stick to it — and enjoy the free time you now have since you’re not spending hours a day on Instagram.