Insta Wellness, or how not to let Instagram gradually drive you nuts.

I love Instagram, don’t get it twisted. I really, really love it. However, like most relationships, it’s hard to maintain that fuzzy feeling all of the time. I sometimes find myself feeling completely passionate about my ‘Instalife’ and other days wishing I didn’t have this thing I had to update constantly in order to stay ‘Instalive’ (I made that one up). I often wonder if it’s possible to use Instagram responsibly and without pressure and still stay relevant.

Crafters use Instagram as a modern-day portfolio, a way of us showing our projects and work to the whole world without lugging a giant-sized folder full of printouts and mood boards to magazine companies and sweating our arses off on the tube. I sometimes wonder what happened before social media made it so easy (and free) for us to share our creativity with all and sundry, but I guess that makes me a bit of a product of the times we live in. The answer would be that they lugged a bloody great portfolio all around town with them, right?

Those of us who regularly use Instagram as a professional marketing tool have probably found ourselves panicking about taking that ‘perfect’ photo for our feed (let’s not talk about those constant battles with light) that freaking algorithm, a.k.a “why the shit does this photo have 23 likes and the one I uploaded yesterday have 400?” that gets us twisting our melons, obsessing over BEATING the ALGORITHM (like some kind of end of level boss) and trying to work out appropriate times and weather conditions to post in and if it matters which FINGER you use to press the screen with JUST IN CASE it affects that damn Insta JUJU! I ask you. What have we become with this social media ting? If I payed that much attention to my day job I’d be the most productive bish this side of The Bay of Biscay.

Why worry, I hear you say? Well, part of my income comes from this wrestling. I am self-employed because of Instagram and the connections it has given me. I wouldn’t have had as many magazine commissions or collaborations if it wasn’t for this gosh-darn app and all the things it brings with it. It matters to people, for better or for worse, and the stress is carries along with this are part and parcel of being a maker in 2020.

So, Insta Wellness. I was thinking yesterday about ways of how to make sure we use Instagram more carefully and still be engaged and have other people engage with you. It isn’t easy, and it’s extremely unpredictable, but there are a few ways that we can lower our stress levels and have a healthier attitude to our ‘Instavidas’ (I’ll stop with the made up buzzwords now)…

Why don’t we try…

Being ourselves more. Does this sound weird? Like, being yourself should be the norm, right? Well, not always. I’ve on occasion toned down my views on certain things in order to not scare people off my work/make them think I’m an activist instead of speaking my mind. Not to mention the swearing… Then again, there’s an argument for your real self being part of what you create, and if your followers can’t handle you in all your glory then they shouldn’t be following you in the first place. Freeing yourself from the shackles of being a swear-free, apoliticial maker can help you be more open and relaxed on social media. Trying to be the ideal, perfect Instagrammer is knackering, and people generally respond to you in a more meaningful way if you and your account are, well, more meaningful and real.

Stopping worrying about likes and followers. Really. What matters is your feed and content, not the number of people who have clicked follow or that heart button. Fixating on this only causes bad feelings, negativity, envy and resentment. I always see it as something similar to Alan Partridge saying ‘I’ve got 100 friends’ to that annoyed farmer. Focus on your creations.

Not posting every day. Posting content when you feel like it, or setting realistic goals for feed posts can help keep you organised and away from unnecessary time online. Try setting two days a week for feed posts, one or two relevant “stories” posts a day, or even experiment with Instagram scheduling apps to help you out with this. Plann is a fantastic app that even has an awesome free version AND hashtags organiser (heart eyes) that can really help out. Don’t feel under pressure to take a photo and provide content when you aren’t feeling in the mood. When you’re inspired, post. When you’re tired, take a break. Which leads me to…

Taking a break. Deactivating your account for a few days/weeks, updating your account less often… Those things do not mean that you’ve given up, they mean that you are appreciating your life away from social media and focussing on what’s right and healthy for you.

Choosing our battles. Everyone sees things online once and a while that really tests their patience, but choosing the right time or reason to slide into DMs and/or call people out is important. I’ve had to bite my tongue so much that I’m surprised I can still speak, but it’s important to take a deep breath.

Using polls wisely. When the Instagram ‘polls’ sticker was released, I polled the Jaysus out of everything. Do you like my new top? What do you think of my current project? How about these new needles? Ohh gurl. The problem with this is that when someone votes you down it can affect you. Why don’t they like your blanket? Am I failing? Use polls sensibly, unless you have skin thicker than a rhino. Or you put two correct answers.

Comparing ourselves to others. You do you, they’ll do them, we’ll do us and support each other.

How do you manage your Instalife? Leave me a comment or drop me a line on, well, Instagram and tell me your techniques. I’d love to hear from you!

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