For Artists

Practical Strategies for Dealing with Instagram Addiction and Anxiety

Social media is neutral.

It’s not good or bad in itself, it how we experience it that gives us those uncomfortable feelings.

It us. Humans with fickle thoughts and unpredictable emotions.

If you read my previous post, you will know that I have struggled in this area. Social media offers inspiration, but more commonly it just brings up feelings of inadequacy and complacency. I get stuck down a scroll hole and at the end feel dirty and unmotivated.

I believe the key to having a positive experience when using social media is to use it with intention and understanding. To do this, I find it helps to work through a few questions to try and figure out what about it is upsetting me and identify how I can change my habits to make it a more positive and empowering experience.

Identifying Your Social Media Issues

It’s time to do a deep dive and look at what is causing you to feel overwhelm. These exercises have helped me find a more balanced way of interacting with social media.

EXERCISE: Get clear on what your social media anxiety triggers are.

Open your primary social media account (for me that’s Instagram). Scroll through your feed and take note of things that set you off emotionally on social media.

Ask yourself:

  • What kind of posts make you feel upset?
  • What kind of language or imagery give you bad vibes?
  • Who are the personality types that really rub you the wrong way?
  • What things make you feel bad about yourself?

Here are my triggers:

Overly polished/stage images
Too much sales posts and not enough real value shared
False claims, fake voices, unrealistic presentation
Over simplifying – “do these steps for 6 figures” “how to be happy doing…”
Being ignored when I reach out, particularly on small accounts
Being called “babe” or “gorgeous”, especially in promotion posts.
Oversharing: Seeing random photos of friends/parties etc when you don’t share your life enough for me to know or care.
People who promote “I have the answer” to only come back next year to say “I burnt out, now I do this” without acknowledging the real growth.
People who seem to be living my ideal dream life which just makes me jealous and depressed.

Now that you have identified these triggers, the next step is to remove these people on your social media feeds.

If they are someone you still admire, just hide their posts and/or stories for a while, until your head is in a better pace. And if during this process, you have come to realised that you don’t resonate with an Instagrammer anymore, it’s okay unfollow them. Stop torturing yourself by looking at them every day! It’s time to make your feed a place of calm and inspiration, not dread and depression.

EXERCISE: Think about where and when you get caught up in endless Instagram scrolling.

People use social media different ways.

Some people use the phone to connect to Instagram, other might use their iPad or even computer. Think about the times you have been caught up in an Instagram spiral.

ASK YOURSELF:

  • Where was I?
  • What was I doing?
  • What time of day was it?
  • Did I intentionally choose to look at Instagram?

Here are my scenarios:

Waking up and looking at Instagram on my phone first thing in the morning
Endless scrolling on my phone while watching tv on my couch at night
Stopping my creative process to post and then checking the feed on my phone
Doing something fun and being distracted from the moment by trying to capture everything on my phone to post
Checking in on the phone app for one last look before going to sleep
Occasionally taking my ipad to a comfy chair and scroll for ages (or until my arm is too tired!)

Once you have worked through the questions, review your answer, hopefully you will be easily identify your bad habits around your Instagram usage. Start consider what small changes you can make that will help put blocks up that will make you stop and think before mindlessly opening the app.

Some options could be that you turn off notifications, or at least put them on the second page of your phone so you don’t see the little red alerts enticing you in each time you pick up your phone. Maybe you could put your phone on the kitchen table while you watch tv and not next to you on the couch.

Or get drastic and delete the app from your phone! *gasp!*

Here are my current solutions:

Ban my phone from the bedroom

Delete the app from my phone


Be conscious of taking the tablet into a lounge area


Using a different photo option to take images of my creative process (eg Snapchat has same stories dimensions)


Taking a break from capturing behind the scenes and personal activities all together


Set up a process to check and upload to Instagram on my computer (less desirable for scrolling)

Intentional social media use can be a game changer.

Like any addictive behaviour, it takes constant effort to stick to your resolutions. You need to be regularly checking in to make sure your new habits are effective and changing things if they not working.

I know it is soooo easy to fall off the wagon, but don’t beat yourself up about! Instead take note of how the situation made you feel, so the next time you think of redownloading the app to you phone you think twice.

I hope you found these exercises helpful, it’s a process of constant evolution but I have definitely felt the benefits of changing my social media habits on my attitude and motivation. Let me know what solutions you came up with, I am always keen to hear new ideas!

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