How to Protect Your Mental Health on Instagram

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Instagram is a digital minefield for mental health – and its danger is increasing through online trolls, super-toned celebrities, and perfect holidays to Dubai, to name just a few. 40% of the world’s population is now on social media. That’s a huge three billion people jeopardising their mental health for an average of two to three hours per day. Social media is thought to be responsible for an increase in stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Around 70% of the population have increased their social media usage in the last year in order to secure their much-needed social interaction fix, even though social media comes last behind video calling, texting, and phone calls in the race to be the most fulfilling digital interaction. We, therefore, need to carefully select the information that appears on our screens so that these “social interactions” – I say with great hesitancy – are positive ones.

Unfollow the people who don’t make you happy 

While 2020 has been a year of staying away from positive people – it’s imperative to do the opposite on the internet. The pessimistic “human drains” who constantly post negative, critical content are probably not doing your head any good right now. Granted, everyone is going through it at the moment but subscribing to other people’s negativity is only going to filter into your own way of thinking.

In reality, this might not be so simple. We all have that one friend with the body of a Love Islander and the bank account to travel the world with – and they know it – but you’ve known them since school and wouldn’t want to dent your friendship by flipping them the unfollow. If this is the case, Instagram has a handy ‘mute’ feature which allows you to keep following said toxic friend, while preserving your feed from getting clogged with their seemingly superior life.

Use Instagram as a tool

Instagram is rife with news outlets, self-help resources, and businesses. In fact, 90% of users follow at least one business account. If you’re in the market for changing the way you engage with social media, consider using it to promote your business instead of as social interaction. Or if you don’t own your own business, you could use your feed to get the latest news from different outlets, for example, by following and unfollowing relevant pages.

Turning the site into something useful will detract from its toll on your mental health and may also help to reduce your screen time – something we could probably all benefit from!

Get rid of any accounts that promote the “perfect figure”

We’re talking fitness brands, influencers, models, celebrities, diet accounts… the list goes on. It’s ok to have the odd account which helps motivate you to get out and exercise or cook a healthy meal (I’m looking at you, Joe Wicks) but too much of it can make you think you’re in the wrong for having a day off the healthy lifestyle.

We are at the stage where many companies are posting photos with “plus-sized” models but they still make up the minority despite the average women being a size 16 in the UK. What’s worse, only 1% of plus-sized models are male. The celebrities and influencers of Instagram aren’t much better – most of them will have personal trainers and dieticians, not to mention the insanely deep pockets that allow them to have houses we can only experience via Pinterest.

Having these people on your feed is only going to serve as a comparison to your own life which, frankly, is currently getting you through one of the most difficult times many of us have ever experienced. That’s something to be proud of!

Follow positivity accounts

After unclogging your feed of negative energy you might want to replace it with some happy vibes. Trust me – this is a good idea! Below is a (brief) list of some accounts which are a good idea to check out if you’re in need of a social media revamp:

  • The Good News Movement (@goodnews_movement) – for some much-needed good news!
  • Savage X Fenty by Rihanna (@savagexfenty) – plus sized models (male and female)
  • Emily Clarkson (@em_clarkson) – all-round positive energy
  • Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) – LGBTQ+ support and a permanent positive attitude
  • Sunday Morning View (@sundaymorningview) – body positivity and self love

Set an app-limit

Most phones now have the option to set ‘downtime’ which restricts the use of certain apps. This is incredibly helpful for combating the evening scroll-fest that sends you spiralling into a bad mood. While this is mainly praised as a child-safe feature, its benefits for the rest of the population are highly underrated.

If you haven’t already, set yourself some Instagram downtime – thank me later!

Words by Morwenna Davies


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