Instagram and anxiety is a topic we often hear about. This great platform can easily be a double-edged sword. It allows us to share our art and life while also connecting with people who can relate to us. It shows us that we are not alone and that other people go through the same issues as us.
However, it’s also increasing anxiety in many people and I see it on myself a lot. That’s why I wanted to share my views on this topic and how I live my relationship with Instagram.
The reality of FOMO
FOMO (Fear of missing out) is a type of social anxiety often related to social media consumption and, mostly, with Instagram. Before researching more about it, I didn’t know it was a thing and that it was something I could relate to so much.
Seeing people living their best life, travelling to new places or doing things I always dreamed of, would start this FOMO process inside myself.
Questions like “Why can they and I can’t?” – “What am I doing with my life?” – “I’m not part of this chosen group” and similar would allow this endless process of overthinking and self-doubt to get into my mind and soul. This fear of missing out on amazing experiences because I’m not like or as capable as them. It might be because I aspire to live a similar lifestyle to them. Or because they are reaching goals I’d also love to reach but I don’t see them happening.
We all know that what you see on Instagram is not always the reality, but a polished version of it. However, this rarely stops the process of comparison because it happens too easily and too quickly.
My relationship with Instagram and anxiety
There are times when I feel pumped and want to give 100% of myself to this platform. I want to engage with people, share photos I am proud of, learn from others and it feels like I can do anything.
Other times though, a tornado goes through my mind and questions on why I do it start coming up, along with criticisms on my feed looking too messy and unattractive, sadness because my profile doesn’t seem to grow at all and numbers that are not as big as others’.
It’s true that I shouldn’t worry about those things too much. Numbers don’t always mean quality. It’s way better to build a community that engages with you and that you can both benefit from rather than a big but passive one. I think this up and down relationship I have with Instagram is also due to my struggle in believing in myself and my anxiety. We are our worst critics and it’s very easy to slip into being harsh on ourselves rather than being proud of what we are doing.
Community is better than numbers
Online there are countless tips and suggestions on how to build a better and healthier relationship with Instagram. From deleting the app, to turning the notifications off or limiting the use to only a few hours per day, just to name a few.
Those decisions might feel too challenging to make and I totally understand that. What stopped me from making those decisions is, again, the fear of missing out and having people forget about me. However, what I’m trying to do is to work on shifting my mindset from focusing too much on numbers to connecting with people who enjoy my content and find it useful. I will never forget some episodes that happened not long ago that confirmed me that that’s the right path to pursue.
I was feeling very unmotivated about what I was creating and sharing while also thinking that no-one was finding it useful nor relatable. But, then, I received a few wonderful messages from people who could relate to my same struggles and that gave me a massive boost of confidence! They told me I was doing the right thing by being open and real and talk about anxiety, mental health and other life challenges.
While reading those messages, tears came out of my eyes and a sense of pride and motivation went through my body and soul. I’m so thankful to those people because they really helped me a lot.
I know this process will take time and that it won’t be smooth or flat. It’s challenging to stop comparing myself to others and I often avoid looking at my numbers because of the importance I still put on them. But this will change for the best.
What are your thoughts about social networks and their influence on our mental health? Feel free to write your point of view on the comments.