I have a love / hate relationship with Instagram.
After years of obsession, daily checking, insta-cramp (when your thumb aches after too much scrolling) and filtered pictures, I decided to give it up.
It was New Year's Day and I was feeling awful after seeing everyone's motivational posts and super-toned bodies. I felt overwhelmed by feelings of inadequacy and didn't like how I couldn't go to sleep at night or get out of bed in the morning without checking the app.
Research out today highlights the hugely detrimental effect social media sites can have on young people's mental wellbeing - with Instagram having "the most negative impact" of all social media sites. Health groups have accused the site of deepening young people's feelings of inadequacy and anxiety.
I stopped because this is exactly how I felt. I don't technically count as a "young person" (aged 14-24) but I have genuinely had evenings where I've lost myself in an Instagram black hole, refusing to eat carbs at dinner or forcing myself to go for a run because I've felt fat compared to all the fashion bloggers or celebrities I see on Instagram.
But I am also old enough and hopefully self-aware enough to be able to understand that these images aren't real representation of people's lives.
I can't imagine having had access to Instagram as a teenage girl. The insecurity that comes with being a teenage girl is hard enough to handle anyway (hormones, periods, being taller than the boys etc.). I don't know how I would have coped if I had also had to deal with the onslaught of edited images and poses from a social networking site.
I recently got engaged and decided I didn't want to post it on social media. I didn't like the idea of having such a special moment determined by likes or comments and I wanted to tell the people I loved in person.
Despite this I have since had several people ask me when I am putting it on social media or when it will be "insta-official".
We live in a world obsessed by instant updates and perfect images. It can be fun but it's so important to remember it's not real life, and like everything in life it's about balance.
So for any other self-confessed addicts or anyone who has ever felt bad about themselves because of a picture they've seen on their feed, I've written a list of 10 things that are better than Instagram. Put down your phone and try them out!
1. Taking pictures and laughing at the outtakes rather than editing until you've found the perfect pose.
2. Actually enjoying your holiday / meal / night out instead of spending your time photographing it.
3. Reading a book, a newspaper, a magazine, the back of a cereal packet, anything other than the comments on a post.
4. Spending real-life face to face time with friends, instead of followers.
5. Walking and watching where you are going instead of being glued to your screen and risking serious injury (this happened to my friend Michelle who fell down the stairs and sprained her ankle whilst looking at her phone).
6. Calling your friend and congratulating her on her engagement / baby / new house rather than commenting with a heart-eyed emoji.
7. Finding your inspiration from the people you meet, the sites you see or every day experiences instead of #yolo quotes
8. Laughing at jokes not memes.
9. Going to the gym, for a walk, a swim or to a yoga class. Get your endorphins from movement, not likes.
10. Taking pictures, printing them, making an album and enjoying them over a cup of tea with a person you care about.
I know giving up Instagram is hard but try giving yourself a break from it for a while, trust me it's worth it in the long run. And if you hate life without it, it'll be ok, the likes, the filters, the comments will all still be there when you get back.Suggest a correction