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Instagram – many of us use it for multiple hours every single day. With this, Instagram can have a strong influence on your life, health, happiness, and wellbeing. Here are 10 simple ways you can make Instagram more positive in your everyday life.
That’s a LOT of Instagram.
Personally, Instagram is my favorite form of social media. On most days, it is my most-used social platform – and not just because I use it for work daily!
That said, I’m far from blind to the negative influences of Instagram. Whether it be the social comparison, time-wasting, external pressures, or something else entirely, Instagram has its flaws.
If you’re finding that you don’t feel great when you close out of the app, it may be time to work on making your Instagram more positive.
The reality is, Instagram is a large force in many of our lives. Rather than avoid the app entirely, it can serve you well to learn how to shift Instagram into a positive force in your life instead.
Improve your relationship with Instagram. Set boundaries. Curate your feed. Identify the negativity. Make Instagram a force that adds benefit to your life – not negativity.
Here are 10 simple, fast, and easy steps you can take to make Instagram more positive.
10 Ways to Make Your Instagram a Positive Force
Improving your Instagram feed and your relationship with the app can have a drastic influence on your mental health, mindset, and overall well-being. Here’s how to do it.
1. Unfollow Negative Accounts
Starting with the most obvious way to make your Instagram more positive – simply make some edits to your “following”.
To be honest, I try to do this routinely. About once every couple of months on a reset day, I will go through my “following” tab on Instagram. When I do this, I take time to be really mindful about each account and how it makes me feel.
Take time to truly assess every account you follow.
This may sound silly and over-dramatic, but it’s more important than you might even realize. If the people you follow spread hate and negativity, evoke feelings of jealousy or comparison, or otherwise make you feel poorly, it’s time to unfollow them.
Be honest here. Sometimes the feeling of jealousy can feel appealing. We may even tell ourselves it’s a source of “motivation” or “inspiration”. But, if we’re honest, jealousy is a waste of time and energy.
Take a conscious deep-dive into your following and unfollow any accounts that don’t add positivity to your Instagram.
Note: If unfollowing feels too final, harsh, or awkward (maybe it’s a family member that needs to go and you don’t want them to mention the unfollow at Thanksgiving this year…), utilize Instagram’s mute button. It’s a great tool.
2. Follow Positive Accounts
Now that we’ve weeded through the negative accounts, let’s replace them with some positivity!
What is a Positive Instagram Account?
Positive Instagram accounts are based on personal preference. What’s positive for one person may not be for another – and that’s okay!
Here are common examples of positive Instagram accounts:
- Positive quotes
- Realistic influencers
- Filter-free accounts, expectation vs. reality accounts, body-respect accounts, etc.
- Motivational videos
- Inspiring words
- Educational resources
- Travel influencers
- Funny jokes/memes/videos
- Cute puppies! (I think we can all agree on this one!)
A positive Instagram account may look different for everyone. What matters is how it makes you feel.
Do you leave their posts feeling better than you did before?
If so, Bingo! That’s a positive Instagram account!
3. Understand Instagram is a Highlight Reel
Social media as a whole is a highlight reel.
Very few people post the realities of their everyday life on social media. Bad days, lazy days, “imperfections”, unaesthetic photos, and authentic realities are not often shared on Instagram or other social media platforms – and even when they are, they are curated.
Everything on social media is curated. Social media is not and cannot be a realistic reflection of someone’s life. Even the most authentic creators have things they don’t show.
Now, this isn’t necessarily a negative reflection on content creators or anyone posting on Instagram. It is simply the reality of social media.
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Social media is performative, curated, and, oftentimes, a glorified version of reality. It’s your responsibility as a consumer to understand that.
When you start to feel negative after scrolling on Instagram, remind yourself of this. Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. That alone can be a great way to make Instagram more positive for you.
4. Be a Critical Consumer
Let’s talk about news on social media.
Social media can be a great tool for news. In 2021, a Pew Research Study reported that over half of Americans get news from social media. Various news outlets utilize social media as a tool to quickly and effectively spread information to a large number of people. The power of social media reach is strong.
Even more so, social media offers an outlet for non-news-related individuals to share stories and information. This can be both a positive and a negative.
In a positive sense, Instagram (and social media as a whole) offers a platform to those that may not otherwise be heard.
Anyone can share something on social media.
Ironically, that is also the negative side… anyone can share something on social media.
This is where your responsibility as a consumer is very important. Fact-checking, bias-checking, and critically consuming every bit of information and news you read on social media (or anywhere!) is good practice.
As someone who has a B.A. in Media and Communications, I can tell you that there is LOTS of “fake news” and misinformation on the internet.
It’s up to you to responsibly consume and critically think about what you read online.
Doing this can help make Instagram more positive, as it becomes a tool for information rather than a source of misinformation.
5. Follow Good News Accounts
By “good” I don’t just mean factual… I mean good news as in HAPPY news and HAPPY stories.
Misinformation and fake news aside, Instagram can be a source of a lot of negative news. As we all know, the past few years have been especially draining in terms of news.
To help balance this out and make Instagram more positive, consider adding more good news to your feed.
There are many different accounts that share happy news and positive stories.
Some “good news” Instagram accounts include:
It’s easy to get lost in the negativity that circulates in the news. While important to be up-to-date on the happenings of the world, I believe it’s also important to protect your inner peace and wellness.
Adding some positive news accounts into my Instagram feed has helped me feel more optimistic and positive while scrolling.
(The good news stories sometimes bring me to happy tears. They’re so good!)
6. Unleash Your Creativity
One of my absolute favorite parts of Instagram is the creative outlet it can be. Through photography, editing, videography, poetry, writing, etc., Instagram can be such a beautiful place for people to unveil their creative talents.
Whether you’re making a well-edited reel, taking incredible photos, or posting your poetry, social media can be a TON of fun and a great outlet for creativity.
Even more so, Instagram can be a tool for showcasing your work. So many people utilize Instagram to grow their photography, videography, etc. business.
Things can spread so quickly on Instagram – your work could be seen by tons of people if you want it to be. Pretty cool!
7. Hide Like Counts
This may be an unpopular opinion, but one of my least favorite aspects of Instagram is the like counts on posts.
It feels very high-school-popularity-contest-ish to me.
Good content is good content, whether it has two likes or 2,000 likes.
It seems that Instagram might agree. Instagram now has a way to turn off like counts in settings. (Instagram, you rock!)
This is something I’ve done personally. I follow people and like posts that resonate with me for one reason or another – not because of how popular they are or how many other people like the post.
Turning off the like counts has been a key way for me to make Instagram more positive for me as a user. I now can scroll without seeing a number attached to the value of the content I’m viewing.
(P.S. This can really help with social media comparison too! It doesn’t have to be a contest for the most likes!)
8. Commit to Being Filter-Free
Some of my favorite accounts on Instagram are those that are committed to being filter (and photoshop) free!
One of the most well-known accounts that are committed to no photoshopping, filters, or retouching is Aerie (@aerie).
(Aerie is one of my favorite brands! I love their values!)
There are also lots of influencers that are retouch-free and filter-free. Adding this little touch of authenticity to your feed can be a super powerful way to make Instagram more positive.
Instagram, often a huge source of comparison, can take its toll on our mental health and self-perception – especially when we are seeing these extremely edited photos. HUGE influencers and celebrities do this often (ie. the many Kardashian photoshop fails).
It’s really such a shame.
Photoshop, filters, edits, and other retouching tools can really drastically change how someone looks online. As the follower, we don’t always see the retouching that went into the photo. We only see the final result.
This contributes to unrealistic beauty standards and can lead to negative self-esteem.
To make Instagram more positive, take these highly-edited photos off your feed. Follow more authentic and realistic Instagram accounts instead.
Danae Mercer (@danaemercer) is one of my favorite real influencers. Her account (and other similar accounts) can help improve the overall feel of your Instagram feed.
9. Set Time Limits
Too much of anything isn’t good.
This definitely applies to Instagram usage. Too much time spent on Instagram is bound to have negative effects on you and your life.
Whether it be the wasted time, increased self-comparison, a social media addiction, or something else, if you spend hours a day on any social media app, it has likely crossed the line into becoming a negative force in your life.
Set boundaries for yourself and your time on Instagram.
The Instagram app used to offer the option to set any time limit within the app itself. However, Instagram recently shifted these settings to not allow you to set a limit lower than 30 minutes.
You’re not out of luck, though.
Within your phone settings, you can set app-specific screentime limits. (Here’s how to set screentime limits on an iPhone.)
This is what I personally do. I have a reminder pop up after an hour of daily social media usage (which includes all my social media apps). From there, I can decide to put it away or silence it and keep scrolling. Even if I go over my limit, the reminder breaks the mindless scrolling habit and keeps me aware of my social media consumption.
Make your Instagram more positive by simply spending less time on the app. Remember, too much of anything isn’t good.
10. Turn Off Notifications
Notifications for Instagram (or any app, for that matter) are strategically planned and intended to do one thing – get you to use the app. No matter what you are doing, a simple ‘ding’ on your phone can disrupt your life and tempt you to go online.
This is the exact intent of these app creators. They want you on their app.
The book How to Break Up with Your Phone was super eye-opening for me. This book explains, in-depth, how app creators – such as Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Adam Mosseri (Instagram) – use user-specific notifications to pull users to their app.
Ever noticed how when you take a break from Instagram, it’s sure to send you notifications about what you are “missing”?
Turning off notifications is like taking your power back. Without the notification’s pull, going on the app becomes more of a conscious decision for you. You’re less likely to be pulled away from important moments in your everyday life (work, family time, dinners out, etc.) to scroll through an app.
Social media should add to your life, not interrupt it.
Silencing notifications for the app is a way to make Instagram more positive. Balancing life and life online is an important part of media consumption. If you want Instagram to be positive in your life, you need to be in control of your usage. The app should not control you.
(NOTE: The Social Dilemma documentary does a great job of showing how social media creators get us addicted to their app and control us!)
How do you make your Instagram more positive?
What tips and tricks do you have to keep your Instagram a positive force in your life? In what ways does Instagram act as a positive in your life? Let’s talk all thing Instagram and positivity in the comments!
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