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Five signs that suggest your Instagram use is not healthy
How many times has someone asked you what you did last night and you've wanted to reply, "Instagram"?
No matter how many studies we read about how comparing our lives to other peoples' can cause feelings of inadequacy – or how social media can negatively impact our relationships and even work – we still keep scrolling.
Dr Sarah Vohra, NHS consultant psychiatrist @themindmedic toldWomen's Healthas part of their Healthy Guide To Using Instagram: "While I can’t yet diagnose someone with social media addiction, I believe that it’s real. Just as someone with alcohol addiction may have a drink first thing – even though they know it is damaging their physical health – people with tendencies towards social media addiction will grab their phone as soon as they wake up, despite knowing that scrolling mindlessly first thing negatively impacts their health."
So where is the line? When does social media turn from a hobby to an unhealthy addiction, and what can you do to change things?
The warning signs of unhealthy Instagram use
1. Posting stories in the early hours of the morning
If you're taking to Instagram to post, or check content, when the majority of people – you included – would usually be sleeping, then it's a sign that social media is affecting your healthy daily routine.
2. If someone were to hold an obviously edited image to your face, would they recognise you to be the same person?
While we all may tweak the lighting or add a flattering filter here and there, heavily doctoring images regularly could be a reflection of self-esteem difficulties.
3. Are you visibly sleep-deprived?
Scrolling late into the evening before bed can take its toll on your sleep routines. If people have commented on your changing moods or if you're finding it harder to concentrate at work, these are signs you need to switch off earlier.
4. Do you find yourself bored, unless you're on your phone?
If you find yourself only being entertained if you are filming yourself or someone else for your Instagram story, then this could be negatively affecting your real life day-to-day interactions.
5. Do you keep track of every like and comment?
Worrying about raking in the likes at the expense of just living in the moment indicates you may be posting simply for validation.
What you can do
If you identify with one or more of the above statements, it may be time to change the way you engage with the platform. Here's how you can start:
Try a reverse curfew ritual
"You can be more sensitive to triggers first thing, so allow yourself 30 to 60 minutes without looking at your phone," says Dr Vohra. "Do something that puts you in a positive mindset – like a workout or making a tasty breakfast – and don’t look to social media to give you that."
Enforce a pre-bed blackout
A 2019 study by the university of Pittsburgh found that engaging with social media in the last 30 minutes before bed was the strongest predictor of a poor night’s sleep – irrespective of how much time people spent online during the day.
Choose when you go online – and how long you stay online for, rather than just picking up your phone and starting to scroll. "Research shows that mood drops after extended or unintentional time online, which can leave you feeling frustrated, lonely and depressed," explains Clinical psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd.
How to use Instagram positively
In a bid to help women keep their social media experiences as safe and enjoyable as possible,Women's Healthhas put together a helpful guide. From understanding your own mental health triggers, to expert advice on posting positively, the manual could help the way you scroll and how that makes you feel.
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