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Five warning signs the way you use Instagram is unhealthy

Red (UK) logo Red (UK) 19/04/2019 Jess Edwards

© Getty Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft

How many times has someone asked you what you did last night and you've wanted to reply, 'Instagram?'.

No matter how many studies we read about how comparing our lives to other peoples' can cause feelings of inadequacy - or how social media can negatively impact our relationships and even work - we still keep scrolling, and scrolling, and scrolling.

Five warning signs the way you use Instagram is unhealthy © rath phl chiy thwil / EyeEm - Getty Images Five warning signs the way you use Instagram is unhealthy

Dr Sarah Vohra, NHS consultant psychiatrist @themindmedic told Women's Health as part of their 'Healthy guide to using Instagram': "While I can’t yet diagnose someone with social media addiction, I believe that it’s real. Just as someone with alcohol addiction may have a drink first thing – even though they know it is damaging their physical health – people with tendencies towards social media addiction will grab their phone as soon as they wake up, despite knowing that scrolling mindlessly first thing negatively impacts their health."

So where's the line? When does social media turn from a hobby to an unhealthy addiction, and what can you do to change things?

The warning signs of unhealthy Instagram use

© Elizabeth Fernandez - Getty Images 1. Posting stories in the early hours of the morning

If you're taking to Instagram to post, or check content, when the majority of people - you included - would usually be sleeping then it's a sign that social media is affecting your healthy daily routine.

2. If someone were to hold an obviously edited image to your face, would they recognise you to be the same person?

While we all may tweak the lighting or add a flattering filter on the odd occasion, heavily doctoring images regularly could be a reflection of self-esteem difficulties.

3. Are you visibly sleep-deprived?

Bored businesswoman yawning at workplace feeling no motivation or lack of sleep tired of boring office routine, exhausted restless employee gaping suffering from chronic fatigue or overwork concept © Getty Bored businesswoman yawning at workplace feeling no motivation or lack of sleep tired of boring office routine, exhausted restless employee gaping suffering from chronic fatigue or overwork concept Do people comment on your changing moods? Or have you noticed an inability to concentrate at work? Scrolling late into the evening before bed, can wreak havoc on your sleep routines.

4. Do you find yourself bored, unless you're on your phone?

Filming yourself for the gram, or catching up on someone else's day through stories could be affecting your day-to-day interactions.

5. Do you keep track of every like and comment?

Worrying about raking in the likes at the expense of just living in the moment indicates you may be posting simply for validation.

Now what?

If you identify with one or more of the above statements, it may be time to change the way you engage with the platform. Here's how you can start:

Try a reverse curfew ritual

Healthy winter breakfast in bed. Woman in woolen sweater and shabby jeans eating vegan almond milk oatmeal porridge in bowl with berries, fruit and almonds. Clean eating, vegetarian food concept © Getty Healthy winter breakfast in bed. Woman in woolen sweater and shabby jeans eating vegan almond milk oatmeal porridge in bowl with berries, fruit and almonds. Clean eating, vegetarian food concept ‘You can be more sensitive to triggers first thing, so allow yourself 30 to 60 minutes without looking at your phone,’ says Dr Vohra. ‘Do something that puts you in a positive mindset – like a workout or making a tasty breakfast – and don’t look to social media to give you that.’

Enforce a pre-bed blackout

A 2017 study by the university of Pittsburgh found that engaging with social media in the last 30 minutes before bed was the strongest predictor of a poor night’s sleep – irrespective of how much time people spent online during the day. Give it a miss.

Instagram intentionally

A close up of the hands of a young woman using a mobile phone © Getty A close up of the hands of a young woman using a mobile phone Choose when you go online – and how long you stay online for, rather than just picking up your phone and starting to scroll. ‘Research shows that mood drops after extended or unintentional time online, which can leave you feeling frustrated, lonely and depressed,’ explains Clinical psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd.

Want to use Instagram more positively?

In a bid to help women keep their social media experiences as safe and enjoyable as possible, Women's Health has put together a helpful guide. From understanding your own mental health triggers, to expert advice on posting positively, the manual could help the way you scroll and how that makes you feel.

Download the guide here.

Gallery: Simple ways to keep your brain young and healthy [StarsInsider]

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