With the rise of social media, it has never been more critical to become aware of our digital habits. Social media was initially created to maintain personal connections on a grand scale. Statistics show that 77% of Americans have a social media profile.
But what happens when we are connected to everything but still feel lonelier than ever?
While Instagram can be a great way to stay connected with friends, share memes, and meet new people, it also has drawbacks.
A study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found a link between social media use and depression.
We have a problem, and it’s not in Houston.
Are our Instagram habits feeding our depression?
Here are 7 signs that Instagram could be negatively affecting your mental health—and some tips for establishing healthier boundaries with the app.
You post a selfie on Instagram for the singular purpose of having a crush like it.
Or after a breakup, you ask a friend to post a picture or video of the two of you on their Instagram story to show your ex you’re out there living your best life.
While this may feel like a natural thing to do post-breakup, it involves giving our power away by focusing all our energy on convincing other people we’re having a good time, instead of actually having a good time.
You post a photo on Instagram and get forty likes within the first hour, so your day is going great. Or you post a photo on Instagram and get three likes in the first twenty minutes, so you delete it and feel embarrassed.
External validation is a slippery slope, and it can be hard to get back up once we fall. It isn’t our fault. This reliance often starts when we’re young, elementary school even. It could have presented itself in being left out at recess or not getting a valentine’s day card from our crush in the third grade. We felt inadequate, and the feeling was so painful, we made it our personal mission never to feel that way again. If we are constantly looking to be affirmed by others, we will be crushed by their criticism. Codependency is a trauma response, and although it’s not our fault that it happened, if we don’t address our childhood wounds, our adult relationships will.
Seeing our follower count drop can sting more than we care to admit – so we download unfollower apps to pinpoint the culprit to our pain.
Who would do something like that?
We do this so we can feel in control, but, often it’s quite the opposite. We overanalyze and ask ourselves why it happened and if we could have done anything to prevent it instead of seeing it for what it really is, a number on a screen.
Being unfollowed can trigger feelings of rejection and even abandonment. In ancient times, being rejected meant death (literally), it’s our biology. This could be an excellent opportunity for us to turn inward and ask where this feeling of abandonment and inadequacy is coming from.
One systematic review discovered a correlation between attachment styles and how individuals interpret and respond to social media interactions.
Attachment theory is a psychological model that analyzes the way we behave in interpersonal relationships and how our upbringing plays a large role. Identifying our attachment style can help us become more self-aware and improve our relationships with others in the process.
Take a free attachment style test here!
Insta-stalking an ex can feel like the most natural thing to do after a breakup. However, when we do this, we plant ourselves in the past. It keeps us stagnant.
Tony Robbins said it best: “Progress equals happiness.”
Insta-stalking people from our past is like driving a car and constantly looking in the rearview mirror. What’s ahead of us is better than what’s behind us. Just because our ex doesn’t make our hotline bling, doesn’t mean nobody else will. Focusing on ourselves is how we can take our power back and when the past calls, let it go to voicemail.
While this is a common habit amongst millennials, it’s an unhealthy one because we are checking in with everybody else before checking in with ourselves. What kind of self-love is that? Checking Instagram first thing in the morning puts us in a reactive state because we have no control over what we will see.
We post what we eat, where we work out, what we’re doing, who we’re dating, and everything in between. We want to show others we’re living our best life. This can be incredibly stressful when we decide to publicize our romantic relationships. Privacy is the new black, and the benefits it can bring to our lives are countless. The moment we begin to get external in our lives, worrying about what our friends think of our partner, our job, our marital status, etc.—it’s all downhill from there.
Studies show that social media use can decrease sleep quality. If we find ourselves waking up in the middle of the night to check our Instagram feed or how many likes our last Facebook post got, it may be time to reflect on our digital hygiene.
Turning off notifications can help curb the temptation to open Instagram after every notification we receive. It can also help us remain present whether we’re at work or out with friends. Wherever we are, we should be all there.
Studies have shown that screen time before bed has to lead to poor sleep quality. With too little sleep, our bodies produce more cortisol – the stress response hormone, which can be destructive to our mental health.
Using app timers is a great way to take our time and lives back. It can be shocking to see how much screen time we are using daily, and app timers can help bring awareness to our digital habits.
Looking through who we’re following on Instagram and unfollowing people who make us feel bad about ourselves can be transformational. If following a person comes at the cost of our mental health and self-esteem, it is too expensive. Thank u, next.
Instagram can make us hyper-aware of the areas in our lives where we are lacking and distract from all that is good in our lives. Journaling our thoughts and practicing gratitude can begin to rewire our brains to focus on the abundance in our lives.
Instagram can be an excellent tool to help us meet our goals, but we shouldn’t become the tool that Instagram uses to meet theirs.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to talk to someone, you’re not alone. Our team of Charlotte counselors is here to help. Contact Modern Era Counseling today to schedule an appointment and get the help you deserve.