3 things I've done to make my Instagram feed better for my head
"Stay off social media".
Anyone else a little tired of hearing that as advice when they say they're not feeling great mentally?
For lots of us, apps like Instagram have become a key part of our social lives - probably never more so than this year.
I'm sure I'm not alone in that I usually find Instagram to be a pretty positive place; a place for us to learn and share information, to connect with people and keep up relationships that might otherwise be neglected, to express ourselves and to escape.
The flip side of watching others and putting ourselves out there to be watched, of course, isn't quite as sunny as that.
Instagram can make us feel like we're lacking; we're not having as much craic as others, we don't look the way we'd like to, we're not successful enough. If seeing a random story from someone you were in school with has ever sent you spiralling, you're not alone.
In a world that made sense, the answer to an app making us feel that low would surely be to delete it and be done with it, but we have to be realistic too.
I've gotten rid of my Instagram before but have always re-downloaded it, eager to feel connected and curious about what I might be missing out on.
So rather than going cold turkey and shunning the app, I've been trying to make my Insta feed a nicer place to scroll. It's a work in progress but every action towards positivity is a step in the right direction. Here are just some of the things I've been doing to try and overhaul what I see on the 'gram.
Following hashtags that promote positivity
In case you didn't know, you can follow hashtags on Instagram - just search a word or phrase as a hashtag, click follow and posts with that tag will start to appear in your feed.
This is something that I've found to be surprisingly effective. Tags like #goodnews, #goalsetting and #affirmations all guide my algorithm to show me stuff I'll like.
Putting out what I'd like to get back
Instagram responds to engagement, with every like and comment telling the app what to put in front of me in the future - no matter what it is I'm liking or commenting on. That's why I try to only engage with content I think will have a positive effect on me or other people.
I try to remember that most things die in darkness and so ignoring content that annoys me or that I disagree with means I'm less likely to see that kind of content again.
Muting, muting and more muting
This has probably been the most positive way I've changed what comes up on my feed. Instagram's 'mute' function is a godsend, letting me avoid seeing certain things without unfollowing people and potentially causing offence.
If you'd like to do the same, you can mute by tapping on the three dots at the top right of a post. You'll have the option to mute just posts or both stories and posts from that account. You can mute just stories by hitting the three dots at the top right of a story.