Why It’s So Important To Curate Your Instagram Feed

Why It’s So Important To Curate Your Instagram Feed

Capable of influencing everything – from the way we dress to the things we eat – scrolling through our Instagram feed is no longer just about keeping up with friends’ lives. Today, a few minutes of double tapping and commenting can send us into a tailspin of negative thoughts and serious self-esteem issues, making it more important than ever to carefully select who and what we follow. SL contributor Bianca Barratt explains…

Picture this: your room is pitch black and it’s the end of a long working day, but instead of getting the shuteye you so desperately need, you’ve spent the last hour and a half blindly scrolling through Instagram, coming to the conclusion you’re a stone overweight, need an entire wardrobe overhaul and an immediate holiday to the Maldives.  

Sound familiar? It’s no secret our feeds are littered with carefully retouched images of tanned and toned bodies sitting on white sandy beaches and humble brags from overachievers. But even though we know these feeds are just a ‘highlights reel’, we still manage to get sucked into the vicious circle of self-comparison.  

According to a recent survey, the UK spends an average of 114 minutes a day on social media and although only around 30 of these are devoted to Instagram, it’s been uncovered as the most mentally damaging network of them all. In #StatusofMind, a 2018 report published by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), it was found that Instagram scored the lowest marks for health and wellbeing out of any network, and that anxiety, depression and body dysmorphia were some of the key negative side effects of an active social media life. 

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH believes this is because of the effect social networking has had on our interaction with others. “Social media has become a space in which we form and build relationships, shape self-identity, express ourselves, and learn about the world around us,” she said. “It is intrinsically linked to mental health.”  

Despite these seemingly bleak findings, as Cramer points out, social media plays a huge part in our daily lives, making it unlikely that we’ll suddenly embark on a mass exorcism of the apps on our phone. So how do we navigate the minefield of Instagram and still walk away with our sanity – and self-esteem – intact? 


Ditch The Negativity 

One of the immediate changes we can make is to unfollow any accounts that make us dislike ourselves or others. While you may have originally started following a Victoria’s Secret model as a form of motivational tool, if, six months down the line, you’re finding that all it’s compelling you to do is take a daily inventory of your flaws, it’s time to cull. Equally, those accounts we love to hate – the people we take satisfaction in rolling our eyes at every time they pop up on our feed – need to go. Projecting negativity is as damaging to ourselves as it is to others.  


Follow Inspiring Accounts 

One of the best accounts to appear on Instagram in the last year is @i_weigh, which was conceived by actor and presenter Jameela Jamil as a tool to celebrate all the things that make women valuable, beyond the number on a set of scales. Whether it’s someone whose career you admire, a hobby you’re into or a body positive account, following those who actually inspire rather than depress you, can have a powerful impact on how you feel after a quick scroll. Instagram was originally launched as another form of community, so use it as such.  


Look For People Like You  

As sociology researcher Nicole Martins told HuffPost, “There’s this body of research and a term known as ‘symbolic annihilation,’ which is the idea that if you don’t see people similar to you in the media you consume, you must somehow be unimportant.” Following people who have a similar body, skin or hair type can be empowering as it sends the message that we don’t have to conform to a certain image to look and feel good. It doesn’t matter if it’s a style blogger over the age of 50 or a woman spreading the word of skin positivity, accounts that reflect us can provide a daily boost to the way we feel about ourselves. 


Be More Disciplined  

Just as we know we can’t feel good on a diet solely consisting of espresso martinis and tubs of Häagen-Dazs (sadly), we know, deep down, that spending too much time on social media will have a negative impact on our mental health. One of the best things to come out of Instagram in recent weeks is the new self-timing and activity log features. As of August 2018, you can monitor how much time you’re spending on the ‘gram and set yourself a daily limit if you tend to find yourself in a black hole of scrolling more often than you’d like. It’s all about moderation.  


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