Chronicles of a 30 Day Instagram Cleanse

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As of today I am wrapping up a 30 day Instagram cleanse!  Last month I realized I was relying wayyyy too heavily on my Instagram app and it started to feel like a pretty toxic thing;  I always told myself I would never reach that point and that I would stay in control of my social media usage but lo and behold, reach that point I did, and it sucked me in to a dark place that I needed to get myself out of.

I chose to do this cleanse because Instagram had lost its original purpose for me– rather than it being a place for me to keep up with friends, fashion, classroom trends, home decor, and weddings, it became a perpetual reminder of the clothes I didn’t have, the wedding amenities I wouldn’t get, the features my classroom lacked, and the gatherings I wasn’t invited to.  The problem with Instagram is that unlike the photoshopped magazine pictures we’ve been trained to stop comparing ourselves to because they aren’t real, the pictures on your Instagram feed are so frequently of people you know, which makes you feel even worse because you constantly find yourself wondering, “If this person that I know has clothes/a wedding/a life that looks this perfect, why can’t I?  What’s so wrong with me that I can’t have an Instagram-worthy life like that?”

I found myself in a pretty constantly sour mood and it wasn’t long before I realized there was a correlation between the amount of time I spent looking at Instagram and how bad my mood was.  It just made me feel inferior to be seeing all of those images; inferior as a teacher, female, bride, friend, human being…you name it– and I felt that way constantly.

I thought the cleanse would be a super challenging thing to do since I relied so heavily on it before, but it was surprisingly easy; I deleted the app off my phone and was hardly tempted to check it over the course of my 30 day commitment.

Did it work?  The short answer is YES. I absolutely noticed how my moods were increasingly positive throughout the duration of the cleanse.  I didn’t think removing an app from my phone could have an impact on my life at all, but believe it or not the impact was profound and long-lasting.

Not only was my mood lifted significantly, but my wallet also felt the positive impact of removing Instagram.  Because I wasn’t inundated with other people’s beautiful clothes and accessories, I hardly found myself being tempted to browse my regular online shops and wasn’t constantly feeling compelled to purchase a new outfit daily.

I found myself being more present with Stephen and with my family because I had no idea what social gatherings were going on that I wasn’t being included in and I found that the need to be included which I had felt so strongly in the past was virtually non-existent.  Who knew all it would take to strengthen some of the most important relationships in my life was removing a social media app?

Taking time off from Instagram was also taking time off from scrolling through perfect bikini bodies and feeling like such a loser because I look nothing like that (the pressure is even more intense with the upcoming wedding!), or feeling like my wedding will be lacking because I can’t afford to spend $10,000 on flowers like the brides on Style Me Pretty can.

So what next?  I think I’ll get back on Instagram but this cleanse has definitely changed my view of it.  I haven’t downloaded the app on my phone yet and I’ll be allowing myself to check it on the computer once or twice a day.  If I do re-download it on my phone, it won’t ever make its way back onto my home screen which I highly recommend!  You’d be amazed how easy it is to forget an app even exists if it doesn’t reside on your home screen.

I totally did not understand people who went “social media free” for even a weekend, much less did any sort of weeks-long social media cleanses, and to be honest I saw them as people who were just trying to prove something and show off that they could do something like that.  This has completely changed my opinion of that!  I HIGHLY recommend doing a cleanse of some sort even if you don’t find yourself with low self-esteem as a result of social media; I think you will be amazed at the changes you notice in yourself, your stress level, and in your relationships.  This has honestly been a life-changing experience and I am REALLY glad I made the month-long commitment!