Panic is not something that’s easy to distil in the English language, but I will try. It’s a feeling which suddenly appears out of nowhere like a gust of wind, completely immaterial but entirely perceptible. But rather than tentatively tickling the back of your neck and swirling tendrils of hair around your face, Panic is a violent gust that snaps branches with hostility. It’s awfully hard to stop such a powerful and invisible force.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Panic lately. Namely, how to separate myself from it, how to control it, and how to release it. Deep breathing, meditation and less coffee are effective (that’s a lie, I still drink a lot of coffee), but there’s one other practice in my mental health arsenal that I wish I’d incorporated much earlier.
I quit Instagram.
Well, not exactly quit. But I did delete it off my phone, along with the Facebook app.
Why did I do this? The thing that I noticed with my social media usage was that it was entirely counter-productive. When I was supposed to be doing something Very Very Important, I would reflexively wind up scrolling through Instagram in avoidance. It was as if all of the answers to my dead lines and lack of confidence in my writing abilities could be found in my virtual stream.
Needless to say, they weren’t. What I did find was a pervasive source of anxiety: why wasn’t I travelling? Why doesn’t that person talk to me anymore? Did she really eat that? Does she really look like that? Why aren’t I enough?
It sent me into a dizzying, paranoid spell as a scrolled, and scrolled and scrolled. Always feeling – panicking – that I was missing out on something, somewhere.
So I deleted Instagram.
And you know what?
I’ve been infinitely more productive for it.
It's not something I ever imagined myself doing. Before I became a full-time freelance copywriter, I co-managed the social media accounts for Sportsgirl. I lived and breathed social media.
But since leaving that job - which was truly a great experience for me - I've felt less and less inclined to invest my time in social media.
That's not to say I don't find it a useful tool for my business. But now that I've taken out superficial, personal social media usage, I find social media a whole lot more bearable.
Things I do now instead of loathing myself via Instagram
Make tea and meditate in the morning. Sometimes I’ll whip out the journal and do a brain dump if something in particular is on my mind. It sounds entirely luddite, but it’s a whole lot better than getting RSI.
Actually meet deadlines. I’ve increased my creative/productive output by about 25%, because I’m far more focused with my main source of temptation/distraction removed.
Piss off a significantly less amount of people at social events, because I’m looking them in the eye and making conversation. My phone is generally out of sight.
Spend about $300 less per month. Yes. $300 per month. Do you know how easy it is to shop your Instagram feed? I feel far less envious of people’s wardrobes, because I’m not privy to the daily updates of bloggers and fashion brands.
Charge my phone less. I used to charge my phone twice a day, and now I charge it every day at the most.
Use significantly less of my data allowance. No more fist-slamming the desk when I get my phone bill!
Enjoy yoga a whole lot more, because I'm not concerned with the particular brand of yoga that Instagram promotes.
I’m not sure if quitting social media altogether would be the best business decision for me, as I keep in contact with a lot of clients and acquaintances via Facebook. Although, I do know one writer in particular who’s enjoyed much success without social media. And maybe one day I’ll start using Instagram again. But until then, you’ll find me chilling out, not caring about my food’s presentation.