Why I Avoid Instagram On The Weekends In The Name Of My Mental Health
While most people might skim through social media over the weekend more than they do during the week, come Friday night, I'm logging out of Instagram and Facebook until Monday morning rolls around.
The only outlets I'll allow myself to browse Saturday through Sunday are Twitter for news, and YouTube to get my food-blogger fix.
Other than that, I've committed myself to keeping off Instagram and Facebook completely.
Sure, my weekend social media hiatus is somewhat due to the fact that I spend enough time on these apps during the week out of pure necessity for work, but there's honestly so much more to it than that.
The truth is, social media -- especially beloved Instagram -- was starting to kill the positive vibes in my life.
According to the #StatusofMindSurvey curated and published by the United Kingdom's Royal Society for Public Health, Instagram is the worst outlet for mental health and well-being because of its associations with anxiety, depression, and the infamous millennial-coined term, FOMO.
This wasn't necessarily "news" to me, and I'm sure it isn't to you, either.
I've always felt that, as petty as it may be, social media could drastically sway my attitude one way or another.
Of course, I'm not immune to the social obsession, and it's because of this insatiable need to stay connected that I lived in denial for so long.
I'd unfriend people regularly, block posts from people I wanted to stay in touch with, but whose opinions I couldn't stand to read day in and out -- all to the point where my friends list is now comprised of only people I truly care to sustain a genuine connection to.
But even after all the time and effort spent modifying my accounts to meet my standards, social media just isn't all it's cracked up to be.
It was time to put the phone down, at least on the weekends.
Scrolling through social media can become so addictive, you may find yourself freaking out when you don't have it at your fingertips.
I first noticed my frequent, endless scrolls through Instagram had become a real problem when I snapped at my husband for taking my phone away from me at a restaurant.
He and I were waiting to grab our food from the pick-up counter, when my incessant snapping for that day's Instagram story became excessive, and he grabbed my phone off the table that separated us.
He was half joking, but I was fully serious when I demanded he give it back.
Both of us were taken aback by my all-too-real agitation, and once the timer buzzed to signal the food was ready, I had already made up my mind to put the brakes on social media.
Comparing yourself to others eventually becomes the norm when you let this behavior spiral out of control.
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday.
Social media, however, innately challenges that.
Rather than celebrating my own successes, or working toward my personal goals, huge chunks of my free time were spent scrolling through Kodak moments of wedding days, baby announcements, job acceptances, expensive purchases, and the like.
It doesn't even matter whether or not I was taking the time to read through everyone's posts. I was subconsciously absorbing all that imagery every time I logged onto the app.
I even began comparing my body to the unattainably chiseled muscles and tiny waists of the fitness gurus and bikini competitors I'd once followed for motivational purposes.
Instead, their "inspiring" before and after shots just made me feel lousy about myself.
Body-positive blogger Milly Smith recently spoke out against the negative effects strategically posed, and oftentimes misleading, body images can have on women.
She posted an inspiring image of a before and after shot, just minutes separating one from the other.
We compare ourselves to these images of posed, strategically taken photos. Comparing yourself is a thief of your joy/self love and even more so when you're comparing aesthetics to images that aren't reality.
I was beginning to lose sight of my own definition of beautiful to a stranger with slightly better calves and a camera.
Plus, when you think about it, social media isn't even really that "social."
Think of scrolling through your news feed like driving through a narrow tunnel.
You see nothing but the pixelated highlight reel of your loved ones, friends, maybe even people you haven't talked to in years, while real life outside that screen is moving on without you.
There's nothing actually “social” about online communication besides the obvious fact that you're typing back and forth to people.
Society has replaced real-life interactions and face-to-face conversations with Facebook messenger and Instagram stories, neither of which can even compare to genuine building blocks of friendship.
I want to hang out with my friends at a coffee shop.
I want to go to a concert and enjoy music with a physical group, rather than share music video links on Facebook.
I realized I needed to get off the phone and out of the house.
Endlessly scrolling through social media is also a huge and unnecessary time-suck.
I have too big a thirst for living life to the fullest to let the weekends pass me by as I sift through stills and neglect the real world.
The more time you and I spend sucked into computer screens, tuning out the world and people around us for a digital presence, the more precious moments and experiences slip away.
It's easy to lose track of time.
It's even easier to lose track of yourself.