Have you got Insta-Anxiety?
Ok. I felt like I really needed to write this post - SO many of my friends in the Instagram community are really struggling with the beast that is Insta-Anxiety. Oh, you know this beast? I think we all do, to a certain extent. Whether you're an artist, business owner or just sharing selfies - the pressure we can put on ourselves to be Insta-Perfect can be overwhelming. The pressure to post every...single...day. The pressure to make sure you post at the *optimal* time each day. The pressure to look our best (but not so best that we alienate people). The pressure to be authentic (but not so authentic that we're grotesque and unlovable). The pressure to engage with other accounts and constantly scroll and comment and like and scroll. The pressure to post STORIES as well as feed posts. Gawd I'm getting myself into a flurry just thinking about it!
Why is this happening?
Social media used to be fun. Now it's a life-sucking inter-dimensional leech monster. But it doesn't have to be this way. There are a few reasons we're all getting our anxiety levels in a state of awfulness.
One is this pressure to perform. For many artists and business owners, Instagram seriously feels like our job. And if we don't perform, meet our targets, get engagement and drive traffic - we literally won't be able to pay the bills. Which is SCARY. It's a numbers game, except we're aiming for something we'll never reach. Sure, you can reach 10k followers just like you always wanted. And you worked hard to get there. But then what? You'll need 50k followers. Or 100k followers. Then what? You'll get there and you'll only be getting 10k engagement on each post. So you double your efforts to get 20k engagement on each post. It just goes ON AND ON in a never ending cycle of numbers that ultimately disappoint you.
Two is the information overload issue. We are just not built to consume the amount of information we do each day. It's flippin' scary shit. Sometimes I wake up at 9:00am, reach for my phone, open Instagram, comment on 20 posts, post in my feed and in my story all before the clock ticks over to 9:10am. All before my eyes have even adjusted properly. All before I've even had a thought about the day ahead. And we wonder why this shit is anxiety provoking. Our brains are screaming out STOP FILLING ME WITH THIS SHIT. It's just too much.
Three is that we're letting our social media wins and losses determine our sense of self worth. If we don't get 'enough' likes and comments on our post, we feel like a McShitty Crud-Nugget meal deal with poop on the side. Not fun. On the flip side, if we post that selfie and it gets all the hearts and all the saves and all the shares and all the VALIDATION - we allow ourselves to just RELISH it. We soak it up into every pore and bathe our beautiful selves in the oceans of acceptance and adoration. We are suddenly worthy. Sure the highs are great, but they contribute to the sense of worthlessness when the lows hit us.
How do we fix this?
Even though I've figured out what I need to do to stop Insta-Anxiety, there are days when I fall back into bad habits. Because let's face it, it's easier to do things that don't serve us sometimes. So here's my go-to checklist that I drag myself back to every time I fall off the wagon.
1. Instagram is not everything.
Don't rely on Instagram as your sole income or means to generate sales. Have a website, a mailing list, post an ad on Gumtree or other free platforms. By having multiple avenues to generate engagement, sales and income it takes the pressure off Instagram and the emotional focus as well.
2. Set limits and restrict your usage.
Seems like an obvious one, but if you're anything like me then you'll find this extremely difficult. Don't use Instagram for the first hour of your day, or the last hour of your day. Give your brain a chance to just focus on what it has to get done in the 'real world'. Give it time to process everything else in your life. Our brain is like a stomach for our thoughts, you can't just eat and eat and eat and eat and expect it to be able to process everything without getting a hella bad stomach ache.
3. Don't get emotional.
My highs and lows used to be intrinsically tied to the success of my social media posts. Not any more. If my post doesn't get my expected engagement, I simply think to myself 'Huh, must've been a slow day on the 'Gram.' If my post does really well, I think to myself 'Huh, must've been a busy day on the 'Gram.' See how I'm not linking the success of my post to my own actions? Very important. You can do your best to post at the right time, every day and interact constantly - but at the end of the day you just can't tie the outcomes to your own actions. Why? Because then it's your fault when it doesn't work. And that feels shitty.
It breaks my heart when my friends tell me they're 'taking a break' from Instagram because it's making them feel so awful. When really it should be a place of sharing, caring, creativity and good vibes. At its core Instagram is simply a tool. A hammer, fork, shovel, brush, spanner - just a tool. And a tool is there to help us get what we want. So let's try and use Instagram for the right reasons. Sharing and connecting with other humans, being our authentic selves, bringing joy to ourselves and others.
Thanks for reading this blog post! My website is full of my original artworks as well as beautiful prints and jewellery featuring my creations. You might like to take a minute to check them out!