How to Detox from Instagram with the Phases of the Moon


At the most basic level of moon manifesting, full moons are a time for release and new moons are a time for fresh starts. These containers are so broad that they can apply to pretty much every area of our lives — from career, to relationships, all the way down to something as small as skincare. Throughout this most recent moon cycle, I’ve been focusing on an area that sometimes seems so inconsequential and sometimes seems like the whole world: social media.

It started a little bit before the full moon at the end of July — I felt so burned out, so unmotivated, so blah. I noticed that whenever I was bored, or sad, or looking for a way to avoid thinking about think things I actually needed to think about, my thumb would automatically move across my iPhone screen and open Instagram, where it would proceed to scroll, scroll, scroll until my eyes blurred. I’d close the app to get back to work, and the cycle would continue.

Besides the mindless scrolling, a huge portion of my time was spent creating content specifically for ILLUUM’s Instagram account, which didn’t feel good to me. I didn’t start this business on Instagram or for Instagram — I started ILLUUM as a content platform, and I love writing our online content — but I saw Instagram as a “necessary evil” of launching a business. I felt so much pressure to have a perfect feed, and thousands of followers, and engagement on all my posts; and it just felt fake. 

So I decided to take a nice, long, two-week break from it all by deleting my Instagram app — and coincidentally, that break aligned with the full moon. After reading up on that particular full moon energy in the Many Moons workbook, I can totally see why: “This Full Moon Lunar Eclipse offers us an opportunity to step away from the light, and allow ourselves to find rest and nourishment in the darkness. This time invites us to lay down our mental and emotional weapons. To take a break from the chaos. To press pause,” wrote Layla Saad. I heard the call to press pause, and I listened.

Can I just say how amazing it felt to be off of social media?! In that time, I moved from Los Angeles to the Joshua Tree desert with my husband, dog, and two cats, and we all settled in to our new home. I celebrated my 29th birthday. I spent my mornings sitting under a pomegranate tree and reading. I read three books. I meditated, spent undistracted time with my family, and starting planning my herb garden. Oh, and I lost about 50 followers from inactivity.

I thought that last thing would bother me more, but it didn’t. It felt good! It felt like trimming the fat, letting the people who weren’t “my people” fall away to make room for a real community. So when I re-downloaded the Instagram app (while the moon was waning between full and new), I continued to purge.

To be honest, I’ve been using a “follow app” called Captivate since I started this Instagram account. It essentially allows you to follow hundreds Instagram users that are interested in content similar to yours, in the hopes that they will “follow back” and raise your follower count. It really worked — I amassed over 6,000 followers in a few months — but at the same time, it clogged my Instagram feed with people I didn’t know, or care about, or feel inspired by. The second I rejoined Instagram, that much became clear. 

Here’s the cool thing about Instagram, though: it gives us an opportunity to curate a digital vision board — a feed of pure inspiration — and I had been wasting that opportunity by following random teenagers in Minnesota on the off chance that they’d follow me back and inflate my numbers. Of course I was feeling burned out on the whole thing!

So while the moon slowly disappeared in anticipation of a fresh phase, my “following” count disappeared, too. Over the past week, I’ve made it a practice to unfollow any accounts that show up on my screen and don’t inspire me in some way; I’ve unfollowed over 3,000 people! This simple act has made my social media experience infinitely better; when I do check the app, there are less images to scroll through, and every single image I see offers me something in return. I’ve also lost about 300 followers total... but you know what? They weren’t my people.

My Instagram “detox and purge” phase has ended almost exactly in line with this latest moon phase. Tomorrow, August 11th, there’s a new moon in Leo (ruled by the sun), and I can already feel the cosmic energy lifting. Can you?

During this new moon the Many Moons workbook advises, “Take responsibility for expressing your gifts and talents outwardly. If you aren’t beaming your rays of radiance out into the world regularly, make a promise to do so more frequently at this New Moon.”

Is it just me, or does that sound like cosmic permission to create an authentic, embodied social media presence??

OK, I may be reaching here... but at the same time, something feels right about using the energy of this new moon phase to begin the next phase of my relationship to Instagram: growing it into an online space that feels energizing and true to me, instead of crossing another task off the to do list.

As the moon grows over the next two weeks, I’m focusing on putting the real me out there — which means less pretty product shots and #TextureTuesdays and more of what I’m actually interested in, like skin-healthy foods and herbs — and connecting with other like-minded (or not like-minded, I’m open!) people on Instagram. I’m going to actively seek out inspiration and actively offer inspiration. Hopefully, by the next full moon, I’ll have healed my relationship to social media — but if not, there’s always another chance for a full moon detox.

If you can relate to any of these negative feelings about social media, I encourage you to work with the phases of the moon and experiment with your own Instagram detox. Here are some guidelines for getting started.

During the Full Moon

  • This is a time for release.

  • Take a few days (or a full two weeks!) off of social media. Delete the apps, if that makes it easier for you (it did for me).

  • When you become active on social again, take inventory of who you’re following. What kinds of images are you taking in every day? How do they make you feel? Unfollow any accounts that don’t align with you or your goals or your vibe.

  • When you become active on social again, take inventory of the content you’ve been putting out into the world. Are you authentically sharing, or are you posting pictures just to get likes and follows? Take some time to reconsider the “why” behind your social media presence.

During the New Moon

  • This is a time for fresh starts.

  • Take the opportunity to build out our digital vision board. Fill your feed with people and accounts that inspire you, so that logging onto social media becomes a motivational experience instead of a draining one.

  • Pay special attention to the images and captions you post. What are you bringing to the table? What are you offering to the world?

  • Build your community. Instagram and other social media platforms give us the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world and expose ourselves to different perspectives. Are you taking advantage of that?

  • Finally, acknowledge what a privilege is it to be able to use social media as a tool for self-expression and global connection. Offer up a little gratitude every time you open the app — I promise, it’ll make a difference!

Have you ever done a social media detox? I’d love to hear what your experience was like! Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Instagram (lol).

SOULJessica DeFinoComment