Instagram as self-care

I love Instagram: pretty pictures, encouraging messages, community friendliness. It makes me happy. What I see there is that way because that’s how I’ve curated it. I carefully choose who to follow so that my feed is full of things that I find inspiring and uplifting. That is, I use Instagram as self-care (as you might expect).

Recently, a few people have asked me for Instagram advice. I’m not an expert, but I’m happy to share what I’ve learnt from some people who really do know what they’re talking about.

So here are my top five tips on using Instagram as a self-care resource.

instagram-as-self-care

1. Follow people that inspire you or make you happy.

We all know about the dangers of seeing other people’s lives filtered through social media and comparing them to our own unfiltered and messy reality. This is not an exercise in being ‘Pinterest perfect’. If an account makes you feel grumpy, jealous, miserable or otherwise negative, don’t follow it!

Curate your Instagram feed so it’s a place you want to be. Click To Tweet

You don’t have to follow someone back because they follow you. Curate your Instagram feed so it’s a place you want to be. Here are some of the accounts I follow – some adoption-related, some self-care, some funny, some for the great styling and photography. (To see the full list, visit my profile and click ‘following’.)

We constantly tell foster and adoptive parents- Self Care is NOT selfish. It’s critical! (h/t @mikefoster2000)

A post shared by Confessions Of A Parent (@confessionsofaparent) on

The best of both worlds! 🥂🍪 @hol_fox #ABMlifeissweet

A post shared by Elsie + Emma A Beautiful Mess (@abeautifulmess) on

2. Find your tribe using hashtags.

Hashtags are the best way to navigate around Instagram. I’ve heard them described as labels for room in which like-minded people can gather. Some tags used in the adoption community are #adoptionuk, #ukadoptioncommunity, #adoptionstory, #adoptionjourney, #adoptionrocks, and #adoptionislove.

Tailwind (an app) can help you find the best tags to use for your posts: you upload your photo to the app, type a caption, and it automatically suggests relevant tags. (The video below explains how it works.) I’ve used it for a while and found it helpful.

In the Tailwind app, once your post is tagged and ready to go, you can choose to click through and post to Instagram immediately (it holds the image and text on a clipboard for you), or it will automatically schedule it for the best time to be seen and ping you a reminder when it’s time to post. (It can’t post automatically for you because that violates Instagram’s T&Cs.)

Be aware that animal ‘adoption’ enthusiasts also use the term to promote re-homing pets, so searching in some adoption tags (such as #adoptdontshop and simply #adoption) can produce pages of cat and dog photos, which may or may not be what you want to see!

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 tags on each post and there is research showing that 16 is the optimum number. Some people prefer to put the tags in the comments rather than the post caption. This makes it cleaner when the post is pulled to other platforms (eg Facebook).

3. Post your best pictures.

Take bold, well-lit pictures. Use natural light and style your pictures a bit (see @abeautifulmess and @iamalisonperry for examples of great styling). Remember that the most popular photos on Instagram are of coffee, stationery, houses, flowers, and babies. Some people like to have a theme to their posts (such as a collection of front doors of different colours). Many like to edit their pictures so they have a signature style (@theordinarylovely is great at this). It might take you a while to work out what your style is and that’s fine – it’s good to just have a play with it.

It’s usually best to edit your photos in an app other than Instagram. Even if you don’t want to spend hours making it perfect, you’ll probably want to lighten the shadows and increase the saturation most of the time (I do). The iPhone photo editor isn’t bad at this for quick results. If you want to get a bit more technical then try Lightroom. If you you want to get the best possible results, use a DSLR camera and Photoshop (and then please tell me how on earth you find the time for that as an adoptive parent).

4. Be intentional with your posting.

It can help to use a scheduling app. Again, Tailwind can do this, other options include Later and WhenToPost. Regular posting (ideally daily or more frequently) will help you grow your network.

5. Engage with others

It’s interesting to look at people’s pictures and captions, and fun to join in and post your own. But it’s important to remember that the point of a social platform is to be sociable! Leave friendly comments on other people’s posts and you’ll find others are more likely to engage with yours. Again, searching for a particular hashtag will bring up content that’s relevant to your interests. I love a good #bulletjournal, #letterboard, or #coffeegram.

Instagram as self care: a summary

So in summary,

  • Have fun.
  • Follow stuff you enjoy seeing. Use hashtags to find it.
  • Don’t allow stuff that makes you feel bad into your feed.
  • Unfollow at will.
  • Follow me, if you like. I’d like that.

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