Why I Took A Break From Instagram

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There are many ways to connect with your online community that don’t include Instagram. Recently, I took a month long social media break because I found myself reaching for my Instagram account in the mormings in a way that I promised myself I would never do. This need to check my feed before anything else deeply concerned me for a few reasons. 

First, I’ve reflected a LOT on my business lately – what I want to offer, what kind of people I want to serve, and how to best spend my time and energy so that it aligns with my values and brings me fulfillment and joy.

Second, and from a strictly business control point of view, my biggest motivation is to grow a business that does not rely on social media. I want full control over how my business is seen and consumed.

Why I Took A Break From Instagram

There came a time where I couldn’t do anything else without having checked in with my Instagram feed. It was a type of addiction. I had to see if my follower count had changed, even by a few digits up or down, had to check my DMs, likes and comments. I found myself needing to scroll first in order to get on with my day. This concerned me deeply. Why was I so addicted to this each morning and throughout the day? When had things changed? What was I afraid of missing every 10-15 minutes that I needed to constantly refresh and check?

And most importantly, would my business actually suffer if I wasn’t on my Instagram constantly?

I desperately wanted to prove that our business success is not a direct reflection of how much time we spend on social media. Of course, it’s a big part of our online presence. And I want to say, I don’t hate Instagram – it allows you to connect with a lot of people much more than any other online platform. But, I don’t want to need it to grow my business – that is a literal nightmare of a business plan. From the beginning days of The Good Canvas, this was always my goal. When I’m working, I focus almost all of my time and energy on my website, my marketing strategy, my email list and backlinks, collaborations and partnerships to grow my community. Instagram is a way for me to work on expanding that reach to users of the platform and to get content out quickly, so what happened when I cut it out entirely for 30 days? 

How Instagram Affects Mental Health

I’m not a therapist or health practitioner but I do spend a lot of time evaluating and working on improving my mental health. I consider myself to be very aware of my emotions and have done a lot of work finding my triggers and learning to limit exposure to things that can be triggering and give me anxiety. I’m also a highly sensitive person and I can empathize very quickly. And while I love these things about myself, social media is sometimes too influential for me and I struggle. I don’t want it to change me and at the same time, I’d like to believe that we can find a healthy balance to consume good and useful content and use it for learning, business and connection. There are a lot of good people doing good things on Instagram but sometimes they’re hard to find. The amount of time we spend, how often we spend it and when we use it to replace or bury a real emotion is what we need to be aware of. 

Instagram and Business – Can We Balance The Two?

I believe it can. But not always and not for everyone. And it’s certainly not the only way. There’s a good way and there’s a bad way. I have met and made connections with people I now call friends, clients or students because of Instagram. When used well it can be one of the best ways to connect with likeminded, well intentioned people. It can serve your business, expand your reach, build brand identity and trust, and help you seek out opportunities, collaborations and really effective marketing. But, it can also do the opposite if we’re not mindful. For most of you reading this post, you’re probably somewhere in between and maybe you’re asking yourself am I using it to my benefit or am I wasting hours and hours without any real benefit? 

Is Instagram Helping You And Business

To answer this, we’ve written out a a few short questions you can ask yourself to help you do a little sanity check how you feel about it and what kind of emotional impact it might be having on you:

1. What do you find peaceful about Instagram?

2. What do you find makes you stressed or anxious? 

3. Does it make you feel confident?

If you’ve answered these questions and find it might not actually be the best thing for you, the next section will help you decide whether a break might be best. 

So, How Do You Know If You Should Take An Instagram Break? 

Here are 6 signs it’s time for a little pause…

You’re consuming more content than you’re creating

You’re working to create “content” rather than what you or your business needs.

You’re following trends rather than what serves you or your business

You’re posting for views, likes and comments.

After spending time on the platform, you feel inadequate, self-conscious and/or anxious.

You’re often comparing yourself to others and the content they’re creating and creating stress for yourself to do the same.

You receive external validation from how well your content does. 

6 Signs You Might Need A Break From Instagram

And for what set period of time should you take a break? I recently read a great book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence by Anna Lembke. Her belief is that you need at least 30 days, so I would start there. To be honest, when I first decided to take a break I set out to pause for two weeks and felt that that would be a challenge. But, as I approached two weeks I really enjoyed the break and wanted to keep going. I had a newfound perspective into the time I had in my business for so much more. I realized I had been spending A LOT of time each day on social media and truly enjoyed the wonderful thing that was this pause. 

How To Come Back To Instagram After A Little Break – And How To Do It With Your Emotional Health In Mind.

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If you’re still reading along and feel like you want to use the platform to grow your community and business, there are a few things to keep in mind so that you don’t slip into bad habits. 

I like to think of Instagram as a compliment to my business and online marketing, specifically. I don’t need it and it’s not the main source of traffic to my website. I use it when I want to, and when I have content I want to share. 

Since returning to Instagram after a month away, I wanted to do it slowly and with hard limits for myself. This time away has shown me that my business is absolutely fine without it, so I’ve removed any pressure of having to post, drive traffic to my site daily and sell through it. Once I believed this, I’m not desperate to post. In fact, I would almost say that I’ve lost interest in it significantly. In fact, my one month break ended a few days ago and since then, I haven’t posted anything because I haven’t had anything that I felt I wanted to share with everyone and also, I’ve been really busy doing other business things that I find much more effective and enjoyable. So, as I write this I’m not even sure if I’ll return to using the platform regularly or very sparingly… we’ll have to see. I did hop on briefly today and jumped off without really absorbing anything.

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But, if you’re wanting to write out a little guide for yourself, here’s a few things you can define to create a softer, less reliant relationship between Instagram and your business

1. Create the content you want – Content creation is best when it’s authentic and natural to your business. Share your own content on your website, email newsletter and Pinterest (which I highly recommend!). Then, if you want to share it on Instagram go ahead but as an option. Not the other way around.

2. Where is your engaged customer? I know, just about everyone is on Instagram but the truth is, you don’t need everyone. More likely, you need less but more engaged and connected clients. Those that choose to receive your emails, that frequent your website for information and that know how to reach you for information. I always say, better to have 1000 email subscribers who have opted in to receive content from you than 10,000 followers that may or may not see your content and don’t read or click on your posts or stories. Focus on what matters. 

3. How Efficient Can You Be With Reusing Content? If it takes you 2 hours to create a reel that maybe 300 people will see, would that two hours be better spent on creating evergreen content with a much longer marketing lifespan? Take a moment to define how you can create content that you can easily modify to fit nicely into various platforms – website, blog, podcast, pinterest, instagram… Set clear boundaries and understand your efficiency and strengths. 

4. Do you have other means of sustaining your business? If you rely only on instagram to sell or bring traffic to your site, I hate to say it but you’re doing it wrong. Our social media platforms are borrowed space – your content and followers  can disappear overnight and if they do, you have to have other more reliable vehicles for your business. Your website is the very first place. If you’ve built a well functioning, SEO website you’ll continue to bring traffic to your site organically. And it’ll generate traffic and leads for you while you’re busy doing other more important business owner stuff… 

5. Focus on human connection rather than validation. Stop yourself when you use the platform to compare yourself to others or when your thoughts turn competitive or negative. Restrict who you follow and don’t use it just to waste time or distract yourself from everyday things. 

6. Turn Off Notifications. This might be difficult if you’re used to receiving notifications but those notifications are the exact reason why we’re all so addicted. We receive these notifications constantly because Instagram wants us to hop on and consume. They’re teaching us that is app is constantly running and needs your constant love and attention. Couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, turn them off and schedule Instagram Check times – maybe once a day or every other day to hop on respond to messages, comments, etc. You’ll learn from others that you have to respond to comments within the first 15-30 min in order for your post or reel to gain traction but I think that’s just another thing they’ve been told from Instagram so continue to build this dependency. 

What about the analytics? Will your website traffic suffer if you’re not posting constantly?

If you have a solid website, then you probably worry less about each post or reel than those that don’t.

And on that note, creating powerful and beautiful websites is what we love to do so if you’re at a point where you want some help or need to get things optimized better, check out our services page to see how we can help you!

I will be writing a separate post that will look at all the analytics – engagement on instagram, growth and site traffic changes before, during and after the break. But for now what I will tell you is that it had no effect on my website traffic. In fact, my traffic continues to grow each month because it’s well optimized. It’s getting visitors organically through search results and through Pinterest, and that’s more than I’ll ever need for the work that I do. 

More to come on the exact impacts and what we suggest so that you can also move into a more balanced structure that isn’t so reliant on your constant attention. 

If you’re struggling with any of this and how to implement change into your business, I’d love to chat with you. I offer a complimentary 30 min strategy call to help you with anything you’re curious about and different ways to grow your business online. You can book a call here.

We design websites that work for you while you’re busy doing what you love. 

Let’s work together – reach out here!

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