Instagram used to be a place filled with avo-toast flat shots, pink Paul Smith walls and over-edited OOTDs. Lately, there has been a shift away from the overly filtered aesthetic to more authentic posts, as prioritising our wellbeing on Instagram has become increasingly important. In an article posted earlier this year on The Atlantic titled ‘The Instagram Aesthetic Is Over’, writer Taylor Lorenz noted this shift away from stylised shots to a less curated feed with the new ‘VSCO girl’ aesthetic, heralded by Gen-Z influencers like Emma Chamberlain, offering a more realistic and celebratory approach to social media.
This all goes hand-in-hand with the recent news of Instagram running tests to hide post likes from users in an effort to prioritise users mental wellbeing. The recent hire of a focused ‘Wellbeing Team’ was created with the sole purpose of improving our wellbeing on Instagram in a bid to relieve some of the pressure that we put on ourselves from constantly placing our self-validation on likes and comments.
However, Instagram isn’t all doom and gloom. The app has personally led to me meeting many new ‘Insta-to-real-life’ friends who share similar interests and live within London. In fact, UK researchers found that, for teenagers, the site can have a positive effect on self-expression and identity, improving overall wellbeing.
Whether you feel you already have a good handle on prioritising your wellbeing on Instagram or not, here are 3 small things that you can do today to keep your mental health in check.
Unfollow or mute people that don’t make you feel good.
This may seem an obvious solution. ‘Why would you follow people you don’t like?’ you may ask, but sometimes the effect is more subtle. “Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt wisely said and comparison can, in fact, be the sour pill that we keep on swallowing. Simply by approaching Instagram more mindfully, we can identify when an account we’re following leaves us feeling worse about our self-image or is an overall negative influence. If for whatever reason you don’t feel comfortable unfollowing a certain person, then simply mute the account for a while (feed, stories or both!)
TOP TIP: Make a note of the account you’ve muted and in a month, re-visit the profile and see how it makes you feel now. Did you miss not seeing this profile in your feed? Do you have more clarity on what affect this account has on your overall mood? And most importantly – should they stay muted?
Interact more on comments
With the very real prospect of Instagram getting rid of likes in the near future, comments are a more meaningful way to re-engage with your Instagram community. Whilst this suggestion may seem conflicting, as it’s implying to spend more time on the app, it’s actually encouraging you to get more involved with the platform in a positive way, rather than mindlessly scrolling. A double-tap is super easy to do, whereas taking the time to leave an uplifting compliment or engage in a conversation with others forces you to create those purposeful interactions that social media was first intended for.
Take a break, an actual break
How long you decide you want to take a break is up to you, whether that’s a day, a week or a whole month! The most important thing is that you actually take time off the app. Regardless of whether you’re posting your own content or not, we’re all guilting of mindlessly reaching for our phones for a quick distraction, so commit to deleting the app off your phone and approach the detox with the enthusiasm of it being a research project – what will you find out about yourself and your habits by the end of it? Feel free to then share your findings on Instagram with your followers afterwards 😉
3 Positive Influencers to Follow:
Matilda is a fashion and lifestyle influencer who regularly engages with her audience on insta-stories on topics such as self-love and confidence.
Aimee regularly speaks out the pressures of working within the fashion industry and has spoken out about the positive benefits of therapy, encouraging conversation within her community.
Freddie is a fashion blogger as well as a confidence consultant. Make sure to check out her Tedx Talk on self-confidence and taking control of your identity.
Words by Heather Ibberson