Home > What To Do When Instagram Makes You Feel Bad

What To Do When Instagram Makes You Feel Bad

I recently went through a period of being completely fed up with Instagram. There was the usual: the algorithm makes it hard to grow, many posts are uninspiring and I wasn’t seeing any of my favourite accounts.

Then there was the mindless scrolling that ate up hours of my time. When I would look at the number of hours a day I would spend on the app, I would sink into a shame spiral. Some days, I would average three hours a day. How was that humanly possible? I took some comfort in the fact that I wasn’t as bad as my fellow blogger friend spent SIX HOURS a day on this app. *shudder*

I also didn’t have the latest and greatest designer gear that I would see some of my favourite bloggers sporting, which made me feel a little “less than”, which I know is stupid. And seeing a swell of stunning pictures of stunning people in stunning locales while I froze my butt off here in Ottawa started to get to me. I needed a break from my once favourite app, and logged off for two straight days. It was glorious.

Dominique Baker lying in bed holding a glass of champagne at the Hotel Le Germain in Ottawa

Of note, here are some of things I did during my “Insta-break”:

  1. I read a damn book. It was fantastic to get lost in the pages of a great novel!
  2. I watched a movie start to finish in less than five hours. No scrolling through countless Instagram accounts – most of which have started looking the same.
  3. I went to bed at a decent hour. This was especially FANTASTIC. For the first time in a long time, I woke up feeling “rested”…a feeling that had become completely foreign to me.
  4. I picked up the phone and talked to members of my family. We laughed and reminisced…and I was left feeling so full of love. I want that more.

Now, I’m a big girl and I don’t want to complain. I’m blessed. My life is great and I want for nothing. And I’m a positive person! I’m happy for people when they do well, and they have every right to go ahead and post what makes them happy. Hell, if I were frolicking in the ocean in The Maldives, showing off my kale smoothie-fueled body, you better believe you’d see it on Instagram.

I guess I was just taken aback by how great I felt when I gave The “Gram a rest. It’s a known fact that this app negatively affects sleep, body image and greatly increases FOMO. Maybe it’s the fact that you are mindlessly scrolling without much interaction or the inability to really control what you see.

Dominique Baker standing on a grand staircase

For me, it’s the “relentless positivity”: the overly curated shots, the constant barrage of upbeat, beautiful images that can make you feel like every. single. person. out there is perfect…except you. I am guilty of this myself. I posted a picture of myself in a bikini slipping into a pool. It was the best shape I had been in ever. No mention of the years of working out it took me to achieve that physique or the borderline unhealthy eating habits I had adopted during that time. Enough.

Sick of feeling worse after scrolling through Instagram, I decided to research some tips to help me get back in touch with things that made me happy. If this little phone app is making you feel crappy, try these out. They just may help.

Instagram Detox Tips

Check In On IG Only At Certain Times

Instagram stresses you out but you don’t want to quit it cold turkey? Restrict your usage to certain times of day. I try not to look at the app first thing in the morning and definitely not right before bed.

Set A Timer For Your Instagram Usage

When I open up the app now, I set a timer for how long I will scroll through my feed. I’m ashamed to admit how many times I have been late for things thanks to my endless scrolling. Enough was enough.

I now set a timer for 10-15 minutes, and usually visit only my favourite accounts, like @natgeo for gorgeous nature scenes, @tezza for bomb-a$$, creative fashion looks and photography, @cookdrankeat when I’m feeling hungry and @goldendoodlesofinstagram…because “goldendoodles“.

Unfollow/Mute Accounts That Make You Feel Bad

Why punish yourself by viewing an account that makes you feel bad? UNFOLLOW or mute immediately. Save your mental health! It’s so easy. You can’t spend your life agonizing because @SoAndSo is driving a Bentley to her 20,000 sq. ft. mansion in Palm Springs, where she will inevitably put away her Birkin in her Birkin closet and then settle into an amethyst bathtub full of warm virgin tears. STOP IT.

Feel bad about unfollowing completely? Use Instagram’s handy Mute button allowing you to stop seeing that account’s posts in your feed.

Be Mindful Of Your Scrolling

Be much more conscious when you use this app. When you are more mindful, you will be able to view your friend’s post of her lovely vacation without comparing yourself to her.

Mindfulness allows you to “know” more about the post. For instance, your friend may have saved for two years to fly off to Italy, or better appreciate the fact that maybe she has never, ever travelled before. Share her excitement. Don’t be jealous of it.

Also, try not to use the app when you are bored. It won’t energize you or make you feel better.

Follow People Who Truly Inspire You

Maybe less Insta-Famous types and more truly inspiring types like @lorilightfootforchi and more @humansofny.

After all, seeing reality stars hawk questionable weight loss candy ain’t gonna make you feel like changing the world for the better. Use the app to spread positivity too. Showcase your true highlights and strengths along with some of your lows.

Need a little creativity and beauty too? Follow @awesome.earth and @apartmenttherapy.

Dominique Baker lounging in a robe on a green velvet chaise longue at The Hotel Le Germain Ottawa

Be A Boss And Quit Cold Turkey

Sometimes you just need to throw in the towel and quit. That’s ok! Think of all of the great stuff you can accomplish without your phone glued to your hand. Most people that I spoke to who have gone the cold turkey route don’t even miss it and end up doing some really great things like walking on a sidewalk without crashing into a fellow pedestrian like rediscovering favourite hobbies and reconnecting with people.

Take An IG Fast

If quitting altogether is too harsh, consider an “IG fast”. Choose a specific amount of time to give Instagram a rest and stick to it. My sister recently did this. She deleted the app from her phone for two weeks and completed an online course, savoured her trip out west and felt immensely better for it.

She also mentioned that when she returned to Instagram, she was much more mindful of the content she took in and only followed accounts she truly loved.

Lately, I’m trying to be more mindful of what I share. I’m a part-time blogger so you will see me promoting products and services I love. From here on in though, I want to be more in the moment when I’m taking pictures, and seek less validation from people I don’t even know!

A huge win for me is realizing that someone else’s purpose is theirs, not yours. There is no sense feeling bad about something you didn’t even know you should feel bad about. I once inexplicably felt bad because an influencer had picked up and moved to the Caribbean to follow her dream of opening a snorkelling tour business. That feeling was selfish as opposed to congratulatory.

I hope this post helps you if you are struggling a bit thanks to this app. If you have any other tips that work for you, please share in the comments. We all would love to read them!

*Photography courtesy of Salt & Streets Photography

Dominique Baker
Dominique Baker

Dominique is a Canadian-based fashion and beauty influencer with a strong voice in Ottawa’s black community. Since launching her blog Style Domination in 2015, she has amassed a global fanbase. Dominique shares her life through beautiful imagery and compelling story-telling that speaks to her fans on a personal level. She’s been featured in The Guardian, Flare, The Kit and Cityline. She also hosts events for Dress for Success, the Gem Conference, and has been named a United Way Person 2 Know for the past three years.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


  1. Lo
    April 4, 2019 / 12:22 pm

    You are a breath of fresh air. You are truly one of the most honest and relatable influencers out there. Thank you for this article. It was insightful and inspiring and although I don’t see myself going back to the ‘gram any time soon, I’ll continue to seek out great style, skincare and lifestyle advice from you to feed my soul!

    • Dominique
      April 4, 2019 / 12:29 pm

      Ahhh Lo! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This coming from you is gold. Our chat at around Christmastime really resonated with me and I had been drafting this post for a while. Thanks for being great. xoxoxoxo

  2. Dorcas
    April 4, 2019 / 12:33 pm

    Hmmm. 😊 Now, this article has been my experience across all social networks. I have had to go on a phone fast for months, to save my sanity.
    Now, I use the ALL SOCIAL MEDIA APPS. If I don’t open it, I NEVER get notifications from any SM app. So, I am on FB, IG, etc WHEN I want to be. And some days I even forget because : no notification. That has really helped me curb my time doing nothing. I read a lot on my PIGEONHOLE APP, than watch movies.
    You’re not alone, dear. Thanks for the insight. Which movie did you watch?😄

    • Dominique
      April 4, 2019 / 3:15 pm

      Hi Dorcas!! Thank you for these app tips! Definitely checking them out! Up here in Canada, I waste a lot of time on Instagram when I’m holed up at home because it’s too cold to do anything outside. My usage will definitely decrease in the summer and happiness will definitely increase!

      • Dorcas
        April 4, 2019 / 3:28 pm

        Oh, yes! The winter. I must confess I miss that in Ecuador, as it’s always warm all year round.
        I hope you enjoy your Summer.
        Warm hugs to you, and Reese😊

  3. April 4, 2019 / 2:23 pm

    Honestly, Instagram does not impact my body image or my mental health. There was a time maybe a couple years ago when I felt like it was starting to and then I decided to post less and do other things more. Now it really has no effect on how I view my body or on my self confidence, but I think that’s because I don’t give IG the power that a lot of people give it. Yes, I use it for work and I’m on it pretty much every day. But it doesn’t mean as much to me as it used to a couple years ago. This is probably evident in how often I post (and I hardly ever scroll these days). I would contribute my sleep issues more so to YouTube, lol. What I try to do instead is either listen to a podcast or an audio book before bed. Totally recommend it — don’t have to use your eyes and you’ll probably learn something!

    My comment is way longer than it should have been! 🙂

    • Dominique
      April 4, 2019 / 3:20 pm

      Aww Cheryl! I love your long comments! Thank you! Ok – YouTube is definitely a great time waster but I love it so much more than Instagram! LOL! I watch it almost exclusively over t…but I watch a lot of cooking, gardening, styling videos and I’ve been known to watch a ton of Love & Hip Hop – LOL! I definitely need to get on the audio books. I listen to a bunch of podcasts which I love…

  4. April 4, 2019 / 5:16 pm

    Well done with these thought-full words. One of my favorite post that you have done so far. Social media should not be taken too serious because one day it can all disappear. Thats why I am happy that I have my blog, because its’ mine to keep forever. I am also glad you have this blog too, very inspirational and love the new layout of your blog.

    • Dominique
      April 6, 2019 / 8:19 am

      Thanks, Marshalee! I feel the same. The blog is all mine and brings me so much joy. I now have a fresh outlook regarding Instagram, so I enjoy it a lot more!

      My developer did such s great job with the blog redesign. Really happy with it!

  5. April 5, 2019 / 4:53 am

    This is an interesting concept.

    A lot of people are trying to reduce their usage lately and I notice that the search term “how to delete instagram” is being searched 1,000,000+ per month.

    Gary | https://trendfriend.io

  6. Dominique
    April 6, 2019 / 8:21 am

    Omg. Gary! I guess I wasn’t the only one who was feeling this! I won’t lie. I miss the old days of Instagram!

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