What I learnt from taking a digital holiday from Instagram

Just over a year ago, I deleted Instagram. I was tired, drained and ready for a break. So, for the purposes of my mental health, I broke up with Instagram.

There was a time, not so long ago, that I was hyper-dependent on this little app. It was the first thing I’d open each morning and, more often than not, the last thing I consumed each night. Likes and comments could make or break my day. And it wasn’t healthy. Not one bit.

I’m now at a place where I’m more detached from it, seeing Instagram as a tool to grow my business rather than validation for my mental health. But there are still times when I find myself blindly stumbling into the comparison trap.

It always comes when I least expect it, when I’m mindlessly scrolling through my feed, feeling a bit tired and ready to wrap up my day.

And then bam – it hits me. I see a post that, for whatever reason, makes me feel like I’m not good enough. And so I have to coax myself back, reminding myself that yes, I am worthy.

It’s a roller coaster, one that I’m pretty sure I’m not riding alone.

But the antidote to all of that? The prescription for Instagram and mental health? A digital holiday. Time away from the app. Time to go offline.

When I deleted Instagram, I’d intended it to be for a week or so. But that break lasted 21 days. I checked my DMs once, via my desktop browser, but that was it.

Here’s what I learned when I took a digital holiday from Instagram.

I don’t need Instagram

Instagram isn’t built to protect your mental health. It’s designed to suck you in, to keep you scrolling and make you stay in the app for as long as possible. The entire experience is intended to keep you around to consume more ads, and generate more profit for the folks over at Meta (Facebook).

But when you start to be more intentional about how you consume content on Instagram, you learn how to control it. Instagram is a tool in my life, not an essential requirement.

I’m now learning how to be more mindful of my usage again. I’m learning to be conscious of what I consume and how I feel when I consume it.

To help with this, I’ve set myself a (loose) rule to leave at least one comment each time I open Instagram, to remind myself of why I’m using it in the first place. It’s there to be social and to connect with other people, not to be a silent spectator.

I can find inspiration elsewhere

For most small business owners, there’s a common misconception that we need to follow other folks and other businesses who do what we do on Instagram. The idea being that this is how we should keep up with trends and get inspired for our own work.

We don’t. We really don’t.

First up, there are so many other sources of knowledge and inspiration. Google, blogs, newsletters, reports, magazines, events, workshops, conversations, podcasts, and so many more. We don’t need to put all our educational eggs in the Instagram basket.

Secondly, take a second to think about where you are and what you’re doing when you get your best ideas. You know, the ones that get what warm fuzzy feeling back into your soul. Are you scrolling through your home feed? Or are you outside, on a walk, chatting with friends, or doing something completely different?

I know where I am when my best ideas find me. It’s when I’m away from all digital distractions. And it’s exactly why I start all my client projects away from a computer screen, with good old-fashioned pen and paper by my side.

It was my coach – Megan Luscombe – who reminded me that you don’t need to follow everyone in your industry online. Sure, look to those who you want to grow to. But only if it suits you.

And if you find yourself feeling back when you’re looking through their content? It’s a-okay to hit that unfollow button. I’m sure they’d far rather you felt good about yourself than them losing a follower or 2.

What do you think?

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