Instagram addiction is no joke. Instagram is a great, fun social media to use, but there’s no denying some people develop serious problems with it. Recent studies have shown that yes, social media addiction is absolutely a real thing. And it makes sense. Every time we get a like, we get a little dopamine boost….just like with real drugs. Obviously, that’s not a healthy way to be using anything, let alone Instagram.

Does this sound like you? The first thing you do before you wake up and go to sleep is check Instagram. You close Instagram, only to immediately open it again. You get upset when your post only gets three likes, and it’s difficult for you not to check your phone even when you’re with another person. If you answered yes to all these questions…you may have an Instagram addiction. Here’s what to do about it. 

How Can I Tell I Have An Instagram Addiction?

Chances are if you’re addicted to Instagram, you’re more concerned with Instagram than you are with your real life. You probably have significant anxiety that revolves around the app, and the experiences on Instagram can seem more real than the experiences in your life. Take a minute and think about how often you use Instagram. Now, how often do you think about it? Could you go an entire day without logging on to Instagram? If the answer to that question is no, there’s a healthy chance you’re addicted to Instagram.

A group of adults looking at their phones

Let’s be clear: Instagram is great. It’s fun, creative, and lets us keep up with our friends, celebrities, and anyone else we may be interested in. But there is such thing as too much of a good thing. The good news is that managing your Instagram addiction is totally possible – without quitting cold turkey. Here are some ways to curb your Instagram addiction.

Step #1: Delineate Healthy Habits

A big part of using social media is making sure we’re using it healthily. More often than not, this means limiting the amount of time you spend not only on social media, but on your phone or laptop in general. If you’ve got to use a laptop or computer for work or school, try using a browser extension that limits your time on certain websites (I’ve got one of these that only lets me browse Twitter for 30 minutes a day!). If you force yourself away from the computer, supporting your addiction is much harder. Be really harsh with this and don’t give yourself any outs. Put the restriction on all your devices. It will be hard at first but worth it in the long run!

Take a serious look at your Instagram habits and decide what’s unhealthy. Maybe you’re putting too much stress on yourself for the perfect post, or you’re following people you don’t really care about. Try not to look at your phone for an hour after you wake up and before you go to sleep. If you use your phone as an alarm, buy an alarm clock. This will help you detox your life from Instagram and your phone in general. A big part of handling your Instagram addiction means putting yourself through Insta-rehab.

Think About Where Your Instagram Addiction Comes From 

There’s a reason you developed an Instagram addiction in the first place. Not too long ago, I was having a lot of stress about the role social media was playing in my life. Although Instagram wasn’t my primary addiction, I was definitely spending more time than I would have like on it. As a way of getting to the root of the problem, I went sat down and went through all my social media and decided what I liked and didn’t like about it. I can honestly say it gave me a lot of clarity, and I recommend it to anyone struggling with an Instagram addiction.

A person writing in a notebook

Write down in a notebook exactly what you like about Instagram. Is it your friends, the stories, the attention? Take a minute to realize why Instagram attracted you in the first place, and think about what’s missing from your life that keeps you coming back to it. Then write down your dislikes to understand where the stress you’re feeling about it is coming from. Instagram should be something you enjoy, and understanding why your use of it has become unhealthy is the first step to getting better. 

This will move you in the right direction to understand exactly why you have an Instagram addiction. Once you know why, here’s what to do:

Get Involved in Real Life Communities

A lot of people who experience addictions to social media of any kind develop that addiction because they’re lacking something important in their lives: community. Think back to what you like about Instagram. Just move that interest from Instagram to real life. If you follow a lot of makeup pages, take a special effects class in your area. If you’re interested in photography or books, see what kind of clubs you can join. Getting involved in a real-life community will not only give you less time to be obsessing over Instagram, but it may also answer what you’re searching for through Instagram. You’ll feel less obliged to compare your experiences to others when you can get to know people and see the whole picture of their life – not just the highlights.

Try Out Other Social Media

If your Instagram addiction can’t be won so easily as that, it might be time to try other social media. Be careful, though – you don’t want to just swap out one addiction for another. Instead, think about what you like about Instagram and ask if there’s anywhere else you can find the same experiences without the stress. 

Getting onto social media that are still growing, or ones that are focused around niche interests, can bring a really tight-knit community feel to your online experience. Or you may find a lot of your friends are already using something you’re not on. If you’re not sure, try a few different ones out and see if something sticks. It could be the answer to your conundrum!

Do An Instagram Cleanse

Follow in the vein of Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez and do an Instagram cleanse when you’re having a hard time with it. Temporarily disable your account and enjoy an Instagram free life for a week, or have a trusted friend change the password so you can’t get in. You can also download an app like Freedom that will block Instagram from your phone. Distance will serve you well. 

Delete Your Instagram 

Some addictions can’t be managed, only beat. If you’re one of those people who’s tried and tried but you just can’t look away, you might be better off just deleting it. That way you won’t have the temptation to go on just because your ex uploaded a new picture. There’s no rule that says you have to have an Instagram. Your health should come first – which includes your mental health!

Your Instagram Addiction Is Manageable

Instagram is a great app, but if you can’t use it responsibly, there’s no shame in stepping back. Managing an Instagram addiction is tough, but it can be done. Evaluate why you have an Instagram addiction in the first place, then take steps from there. Whether it’s deciding what you do and don’t like about it, or you end up deleting your Instagram altogether, your Instagram addiction is beatable.