How to take a break from a platform that squeezes you dry, and how to come back on your own terms.
My decision to take a break from Instagram came from a tipping point of boredom with what I was creating, and what I was consuming. I was feeling frustrated with a constant feeling of “should” I should post or create stories every day, I should engage a certain number of times on a certain number of accounts. I was frustrated with the lack of engagement and was done with my own excuses of blaming the algorithm; I knew in my heart I was not serving up the depth or value I am capable of, everything was surface level and I felt disconnected. My nervous system was stressed from the constant noise and pace of Instagram.
I uninstalled the app from my phone and decided to post via the Planoly app, however this was still giving me an excuse to check the app for engagement on my post. I posted on Instagram that I was taking a break and walked away from it. In my mind I would be off for five days.
The first three days I had a headache, pain and tightness around my eyes and forehead. My brain and hands continually reached for my phone and Instagram. My ego was on loop in my head –
“No one cares that you are on there, so no one care you are not on there”.
“You are trying to build a business and now you have turned your back on the platform that gave you all of your clients”
“Why are you going against the grain, it makes no difference”.
My answer to the negativity in my mind was movement in my body, I turned further into my yoga practice. From my first yoga class in 2006, yoga has nourished me, given me an awareness of my body, my breath and for me is a moving meditation. On some days I was on the mat morning and night.
The 5 days came and went, I was not willing to give up the freedom and curiosity of using my phone as a learning and self-care tool, the apps on my phone are Kindle, audible, Pinterest, Yoga download, kajabi, TED talks, YouTube for meditation, Gmail, Babble. If I was on my phone, it was to learn, to relax, to move. I had stopped looking at my phone hoping to see a notification.
My laptop and notebooks were on high rotation of processing. I remember the first time I wrote a personal essay; I was in grade one and sitting in the staff tearoom at St Bernadette’s catholic primary school with Mrs Doolan. I wrote about a shopping trip to Franklins grocery store. My writing has always felt expansive, healing and a way for me to process. I had become so entrenched in what to create for Instagram I had not noticed my writing had shrunk to comply with the 2200-character count of Instagram. With Instagram not an option, I felt a sense of lightness and freedom in writing blog posts, journal entries, and emails that far exceed the surface level and character count of the app.
Over the 6 weeks the quality of conversations changed with Scott and the boys, there was no phone to look at while we were together, I was not stopping to take a photo while we were at the beach, walking a mountain trail, at lunch or dinner. I was BEING in the moment. My clients had my undivided attention. My phone was in the kitchen on the other side of our house when I was on a zoom, there is no need for me to be taking photos or video of behind the scenes. My phone spent a lot of time on top of the microwave in our kitchen or at the bottom of my handbag.
My nightly routine of a cup of chamomile and reading a paperback book meant my sleep improved, some day’s there was several hours between me looking at my phone and closing my eyes for the night. I was not thinking of things I had seen on Instagram, of what I should be posting, there was no obnoxious music from reels before trying to sleep.
I allowed myself to feel bored, I worked through the impulse to check my phone while reading a book, or writing in my journal, I shed the need to hide in my phone on social media if I was feeling uncomfortable. I slowed down and observed, listened, and felt what I felt.
Without the audience of Instagram for my business, I had to explore with curiosity and experiment with my email list, blog posts and Pinterest. My email list has become my favourite place to share, creating on Flodesk means the emails are beautiful, and the engagement and analytics are well above what Instagram ever was. I was surprised and delighted with who was replying to my emails, and the conversations in my email inbox. I was grateful for the women who took the time and effort to hit the reply button. With each interaction I was becoming more and more in love with sharing my writing in a way that feels good for me, that I feel in flow with, and it drove a deeper wedge between me and my attachment to Instagram.
During this time, the one thing I missed was cheering on family and friends on Instagram in what they do, I was missing some of the conversations I was having in my DM’s with women from all over the world.
Towards the end of the six weeks there was a pull to go back to Instagram. I knew the relationship we had would be different and less toxic.
I journaled and wrote out boundaries that would be set for the time I would spend there, what I would create for my account, I was feeling butterflies in my belly about installing the app again and protecting what I had created in the six weeks of no social media.
I reinstalled the app on a Monday morning, I shared a good morning story, and I felt no attachment to it. I shared it with no thoughts of how many people would see it, who would engage. I shared it because I wanted to. I have shared a few posts, with no agenda – these are me; this is what I am doing. I have unfollowed people I don’t want in my feed; I have searched for people in my list of people I follow to see what they have been up to and engaged with them. The six weeks filled my cup, I was led down new pathways with creativity and curiosity; I have found this addictive and exciting. I do not feel the need to constantly check Instagram. I have not fallen back into the mindless scroll to numb out or fill time because I am avoiding things or am feeling bored. My priorities for my time, my energy, my life, and my attention have changed. This experience of Instagram feels healthier, I have boundaries, I have no attachment to the outcome of every single thing I do there, and I am there to cheer on people I find interesting and connected to, while being me.
Thank you for being here and reading my words
Have a beautiful day
If you would like to have a mentoring session with around clarity or accountability