Do You Have Instagram Addiction?
I will be the first to admit that I am a little bit addicted to Instagram! Once I get on the app, I sometimes can’t stop scrolling and before I know it, time has swept by and I end up playing catch up. At other times, I worry that other people are doing better or look better than me, so this has an effect on my mental health, too. My solution is to delete the app for a while – but is there a better way? We spoke to Connie, a Happiness and Addiction Coach to give us a few tips on how best to enjoy our time on Instagram – but without the addiction!
1. “I scroll on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn whenever I feel bored at work, and it really kills my productivity! I tried to put my phone in drawer but it’s not really working for me. Is there anything I can do here?”
Connie: First off all don’t be too hard on yourself, social media is designed specifically to be addictive.
Have you tried putting it totally out of reach for blocked out work times? Some clients of mine find putting their phone in their locker or a separate room AND turning it off or at least on airplane mode helps. The more steps you can put in between you and your phone the better.
You can set a timer each day for when you can go on social, it could be, ok I’ll spend 30 minutes at 10am, 30mins at 1pm, 1 hour at 8pm for example, but set yourself a reasonable time allowance, so not too extreme from your current usage. Most smartphones have your screen time listed and it will show you how much time you spend on each app. So say you currently spend 4 hours on social media, to cut it down to 3hrs 45mins is progress. Often the easiest way to change something is gradually.
If you have an iPhone you can set a time limit for each app, go to Settings – Screen Time – App Limits – Add Limit.
A daily meditation practice will help you with impulse control and get you into the habit of being without distraction. Hypnosis recordings, daily reminders whilst in a relaxed suggestible state can be very powerful. Feel free to reach out to me if you want a free recording.
Working with a coach to keep you accountable with your habits is also invaluable. Creating habits is the key, if we leave it to willpower without a solid meditation practice we are more susceptible to be pulled in by our comforting yet destructive impulses.
If you do feel that impulse to check social media (sometimes your hand is moving before you have even consciously decided) as soon as you catch yourself, stop moving, take a DEEP breath, count backwards from 5 and say to yourself, “I am enough” and if you want to take it further add “I deserve to be productive to become to best version of myself. I can check social media later.”
2. “I feel like my attention span is so much weaker and cannot focus throughout the day if I look at Instagram first thing when I wake up in the morning. But I can’t help it… What should I do?”
Connie: If possible before you fall asleep, put the phone on the other side of the room (or a different room!) and make sure it’s turned off or on airplane mode. Write down the night before with intention your plan for the first minutes of the next day. Imagine yourself feeling really happy not looking at your phone first thing. Are you going to sit up and immediately meditate for 5 mins or longer? Or go make that tea or coffee and sit and journal, free write, stretch, put on an uplifting song, or maybe, just sit and THINK without your phone while you drink your morning beverage?
Start with deciding not to look at your phone for the first 5 or 10 minutes! Make it easy and achievable and gradually build on that. THEN you can even use your phone as a reward for your healthy habit.
3. “I constantly seek validation through social media, like my self-worth entirely relies on how many people like and comment on my post. I don’t know where to start to work on my mental health.”
Connie: This is a big one and something I have struggled with in the past when you have Instagram addiction. I had to get comfortable with having few likes when I changed my angle and started showing up as more authentic, as my audience started to change. To sit and wait while feeling uncomfortable is a process of self-acceptance and growth, remind yourself that ‘you are enough’. Meditation and working with a coach can help.
We are all influencers on social media, maybe you are reaching 1 or 2 people whose lives are made better by your sharing, that is more important than a thousand vacuous likes and emoji comments.
As a social being – it’ is very hard not to feel a burst of dopamine when you feel socially accepted, it’s related to our survival – in a tribe the more accepted we are the more likely we will live. And there are many studies showing that elderly people who are isolated tend to die sooner. We think; the more likes the more acceptance, there’s sometimes some truth to that but really, it’s the 2 or 3 of your friends that like it that really count, they are the people that will be there for you in times of need. And perhaps your best friends didn’t even see your post! Remember so much of social media is reliant on algorithms, just take a look at the amount of mediocre posts that get millions of likes to remind you.
When you post something, set a timer to stay around for the first 20 minutes and then LEAVE. It can be exciting to check back the next day, but remember, likes are NOT love, with the right tools and practices, YOU are the one who can provide all the love you need.
Social media can be a tool for growth… see it as a challenge: how much self-love can you create? How authentic can you be? How comfortable can you be at creating self-validation? You are recognising it, that’s step one, so congratulate yourself on that.
It’s not about being perfect it’s about progress, being aware and doing the best we can.
4. “I tried a digital detox before, but this Instagram addiction situation actually got worse…for me, it’s like binge eating…can I delete all the applications? But my communication with my friends is all happening through social.”
Connie: I personally don’t agree with extremes for that very reason. When we make something in out head to be ‘bad’ or ‘dangerous’ – guess what – we believe it is, and we end up treating it as such! I see the biggest change in how people use social media when they curate the information that they are consuming on it. Are you watching people that give you a heavy or uncomfortable feeling inside you? Do you feel like they are fake or inauthentic? Are they expressing values that you don’t really agree with? They are your influence! What we feed our mind with is what we become. Find people that uplift and inspire you, and unfollow or mute the ones who give you a sub-optimal feeling.
Choose a time or a task each day (maybe eating dinner for example) where you decide to put your phone in another room. OR turn it OFF and put it in a lockbox.
Go for a walk without your phone or put it on airplane mode so you can still take photos or listen to music or a podcast etc. ONE daily walk without your phone will teach you a lot. Start simple and easy make it just 5 minutes. You will get more used to being without your phone as that feeling gets more comfortable over time.
Airplane mode is something I use a lot. Definitely turn off notifications, and move your social media apps to the second page of your phone. I keep the red badges and that’s it. Following the above advice applies here too.
Social media isn’t a bad thing, it’s how you relate to it that counts.
Do you have Instagram addiction? You can contact Connie via Instagram.