By now you have probably heard about Instagram’s newest app feature. But if not, you should know on December 7, Instagram launched its newest “Take A Break” tool. The Take A Break feature was first announced in September 2021 and is now available to some users in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The tool is designed to encourage users to disengage with the platform after scrolling for a certain time.
So, how does it work? A user can turn on the feature under “Settings” and select if they want to be notified by the app after 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or 30 minutes of use. An alert will pop up on the screen suggesting the user close out of the app, take a deep breath, write down what they are thinking, listen to their favorite song, or do something on their to-do list.
What Instagram's "Take A Break" Actually Means
Instagram’s Take A Break feature was essentially developed as part of a response to the Facebook Papers. The government and other child advocacy organizations want big tech companies to be held accountable for their role in how social media impacts mental health. Earlier this year, hundreds of internal documents were leaked to the Wall Street Journal and the Securities and Exchange Commission demonstrating Facebook’s knowledge of how Instagram can damage mental health and body image, especially among young women and teenage girls. In turn, Facebook decided not to launch an Instagram app for children under the age of 13 and consider input from parents, policymakers, and advocacy groups.
Aside from the legal implications for Facebook, the implementation of the Take A Break tool encourages users to stay grounded or come back to reality through the use of mindful suggestions like writing down their thoughts or practicing breathwork. Oftentimes, many of us (especially women) are scrolling mindlessly through Instagram with uncontrollable thoughts that lead to high anxiety, low self-esteem, negative self-talk, and high levels of self-consciousness from curated content.
Rising Mental Health Issues & Social Media
In an article published by Time, a survey revealed Instagram is the worst social media network for mental health, according to a survey of 1500 teens and young adults. The platform is associated with high levels of anxiety, depression, bullying, and FOMO (fear of missing out). The article further states that social media posts set unrealistic expectations, create feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. With that said, Instagram received the worst scores for body image and anxiety. Research has also found that the more social networks a young adult uses, he or she is more likely to report depression and anxiety.
It is suggested that navigating between different norms and friend networks on various platforms could account for reports of mental health issues.
The Washington Post reports Instagram has steadily increased the amount of recommended content it shows people. In July, a user’s main feed included content from people you don’t know alongside a friend’s posts promoting idealized images and self-help recommendations. It is Instagram’s algorithm that becomes a mental burden because there is no control over what pops up on your feed. The way Instagram is used between genders varies, but research has uncovered eating disorders in men. Instagram doesn’t only exacerbate body image issues, some content promotes violence, and biased ideologies, making young boys and men susceptible.
Forbes reports that with women, there is an increased risk of developing eating disorders because of social media. Another study found depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction are associated with Instagram use. The article also states suicidal thoughts are linked to social media use as well as an increase in loneliness. Even the New York Times recently wrote that social media turned prioritizing mental health into a trap by their critique of the Hulu reality series The D’Amelio Show based on the famous TikTok star Dixie D’Amelio.
And from my observation, with the infinite amount of social media influencers, there is a scary level of self-importance and narcissism due to online presence that didn’t exist before Instagram. You have to step back and ask if Instagram didn’t exist or ceased today, would we have an excessive amount of influencers or life coaches? And what would happen to their self-esteem or sense of self-worth without social media? The answer is no and self-worth would be diminished.
When Facebook recently shut down for one day, high levels of anxiety and stress were exhibited. It’s one thing to have your voice heard, but at what point does it become toxic and overbearing causing someone to possibly not enjoy their own life?
Prioritizing Mental Health In A Social Media-Driven World
While the Take A Break tool is geared towards teenagers and young adults, women and men need this tool. It’s been said parents should have a conversation with their kids about how to use Instagram, recognize photoshopped pictures, and the associated risks. I think grown men and women need to have the same conversations with each other if we haven’t started to already. With the countless mental health issues that have risen from Instagram, it’s important to know when you should separate yourself from the 'gram. I know, because I had to do it.
At that moment, I had to decide if I wanted to continue scrolling through feeds or put myself first. And I chose the latter. Therefore, you should too. What I have come to realize is that Instagram is nowhere for your mind to live.
Once I got off social media, I realized I wasn’t missing out on anything. I was less anxious and less self-conscious about myself and my body. It forced me to be present whether I was at the gym, work, or visiting family or friends. Overall, I have become less interested in Instagram and more interested in my to-do list and doing things that feed my soul.
With any choice, there will be repercussions. I lost friends or people seemed to stop talking to me because I no longer had a strong online presence. I wasn’t doing the “hype” thing anymore. And all I can say is I just didn’t want to live my life online or spend most of my time curating perfect pictures or captions. At one point I felt like I was forced to be online just to feel connected. It’s like you're damned if you do or damned if you don’t. So, with this example, do you see how social media affects mental health?
I would also say the decision to prioritize your mental health in a social media-driven world is a conscious choice. You have to be aware of how Instagram or any other social media platform makes you feel. We’re not meant to live in our thoughts or live our lives in constant comparison to someone else.
We’re meant to live and experience this world given to us.
And it’s perfectly OK to want to share your experiences and successes through Instagram and social media. It’s OK to follow other users that positively impact your life. But don’t get too caught up to the point where your mental health is affected. Don’t be consumed by what others are doing either. Don’t feel like you're missing out or your life is less exciting based on other people’s Instagram Story or posts. It’s not real. What is real is you living and breathing this very second.
The minute you feel social media is making you feel a certain way or is disrupting your life - take a break.
I always knew about the time limit feature on Instagram and have previously used it too. Though, it seems as though the “Take A Break” tool, coupled with Instagram’s “Daily Time Reminder” is a step in the right direction for tech companies such as Facebook to be proactive in putting our mental health first. The features aren’t perfect and there are definitely glitches to work out. But if it’ll help people be mindful and present, I’m here for it.
Everything in moderation.
Featured image by Getty Images
Camille is a lover of all things skin, curls, music, justice, and wanderlust; oceans and islands are her thing. Her words inspire and her power is her voice. A California native with Trinidadian roots, she has penned personal essays, interviews, and lifestyle pieces for POPSUGAR, FEMI magazine, and SelfishBabe. Camille is currently creating a life she loves through words, self-love, fitness, travel, and empowerment. You can follow her on Instagram @cam_just_living or @written_by_cam.
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
When it comes to healthy hair care, there are a few things that will help you achieve healthy strands: a healthy hair care regime, hydration, consistent treatments, and scalp care. While scalp care is one of the most neglected practices, it is also one of the most important. Why? Because it helps promote healthy hair growth, clear hair follicles, and remove build-up.
When it comes to creating a healthy scalp routine, it helps to know exactly what you’re up against so you know how to specifically treat it. Two of the most common concerns are dandruff and dry scalp. It can be tough to decipher which is which, but here’s a quick breakdown: dry scalp is caused by a lack of moisture in the skin, while dandruff is caused by an excess of oil and yeast buildup on the scalp. Knowing that both of these are big concerns, SheaMoisture released two separate product lines to address both issues: the Scalp Moisture collection and the Anti-Dandruff collection.
Needless to say, if you tend to experience dandruff then I’d recommend you try the Anti-Dandruff collection. However, my biggest concern has always been dry scalp. A lack of moisture on the scalp can be caused by several factors like weather, age, and hair products to name a few. I’ve noticed that when I use certain gels or skip out on a deep scalp cleanse, my roots feel itchy and dry nonstop, which is uncomfortable.
The only way to relieve the discomfort is to properly wash and moisturize my roots, so I tried the Scalp Moisture collection and this is what I thought.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
First, What’s In The Collection?
The Scalp Moisture collection is a four-product line that includes a pre-wash masque, a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, and a moisturizing scalp cream. Each product uses moisturizing and strengthening ingredients like aloe butter and vitamin B3 as active ingredients to provide eight times the moisture. Together, aloe butter and vitamin B3 work to restore dry and brittle hair, as well as add relief to the scalp.
Now, let’s break down each product…
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Pre-Wash Masque may actually be the all-star of the collection. Using this deep conditioning masque is one of the best ways to target your dry scalp, restore hydration, and nourish your strands before shampooing.
I started by completely saturating my hair and scalp with water, then making small sections to apply the masque directly to the root. For my girls who have experience with relaxers and perms, it helps to apply the masque to your roots just like you would do with a relaxer. This way you can make sure you’ve covered as much of your scalp as possible while minimizing any breakage.
Pro tip: you can also use a color application brush to make this step easier.
After I completely covered my scalp, I massaged the product into my roots, used any excess on my strands, then left the masque in for 30 minutes. I was shocked by how moisturizing and clarifying my scalp and hair felt. One of the things that I love about the masque is the slip and how much softer it made my hair. While this is marketed as a scalp care product, it can completely transform your hair from dry and parched to completely hydrated.
In my opinion, the downside of this masque is that the quantity is too small for my liking. Truth be told, naturals go through deep conditioners faster than any other product (especially when it’s this good.) So SheaMoisture, if you’re reading this, we’d love a bigger jar.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Shampoo
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Shampoo is a gentle cleanser packed with the same moisture as the masque. The pearl-colored shampoo is lightweight with a serum-like consistency and a light and clean scent. The smell is pleasant, subtle, and not overbearing. When I applied the shampoo, I noticed immediately that it foams and lathers up very quickly, so less is more.
After applying the shampoo, I parted my hair and started at the roots to target as much of my scalp as possible. I recommend really taking the time to work the product and massage your scalp as much as possible.
Pro tip: using a scalp massager makes it easier and it feels amazing.
Once you start to massage your hair you’ll feel the product start to work. There’s a tingling sensation that might catch you off guard if you’re not used to it, but it’s not nearly as strong as other scalp products I’ve tried. I know some may not appreciate the sensation, but I loved it! My scalp felt clean, light, and breathable.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Conditioner
Like the shampoo, the SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Conditioner shares that pearly color and serum-like feel. It applies very easily while softening and moisturizing your hair. When I applied it to my hand, it gave my hands a lotion-like feel, which speaks volumes about its hydration capabilities. I also loved that the conditioner comes with a pump, instead of having to squeeze the product out – to me, it makes application easier.
I typically apply my conditioner to the ends first but because this is a scalp care product I started at the root and worked my way down to my ends. I did leave the conditioner in for ten minutes, although the bottle recommends leaving it in for three. The conditioner also provides that same breathable feel to your scalp. I honestly loved the relief.
Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
Scalp Moisture Cream
The SheaMoisture Scalp Moisture Cream is more of a daily relief product for your roots rather than your overall hair. It’s great for providing moisture and immediate relief to a dry and itchy scalp. Just like most of the collection, it gives a light and breathable feel – without the tingle. The applicator bottle targets specific parts of your scalp and makes applying easier.
Pro tip: I typically just squeeze the bottle to wherever I need the relief and use the tip to massage it into my scalp so it doesn’t mess up the hairstyle.
Overall, SheaMoisture’s scalp care line lives up to its claims – it moisturizes, strengthens, and provides immediate scalp relief. I definitely recommend trying the Scalp Moisture collection for an affordable way to treat itchy and dry scalp.
Featured image by Krissy Lewis for xoNecole
We’ve all heard the age-old adage, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But have we ever considered an amendment to the rule when we’re in the safe and confiding space of a close friend?
As humans, we share information — it’s what keeps us connected with the world around us. And women, specifically, have a special way of forming connections with their friends through deep emotional support, bonding complex experiences, and seeking advice as a means of problem-solving and processing information.
However, without the proper conversational boundaries in place, these seemingly harmless moments of friendly banter can easily drift into a space we know as gossip.
All across TikTok, users are stripping the veil between casual chit-chat and juicy tea-spilling by partaking in a viral trend where friends ask one another, “Can I be mean for a second?” to which their request is met by their circle of friends being revived by the enticing invitation.
“Can I Be Mean for a Second?” TikTok Trend
But what differentiates an everyday catch-up session with a friend from all-out gossiping that you may or may not have intended to participate in? And once we're there, why does it make us feel so bad?
"The reason we feel guilty about [gossip] is because we misunderstand it," says friendship coach Danielle Bayard Jackson. "Gossip simply means you are talking about people who are not in the room, who are not present. That's it. But it has taken on a negative connotation, and if you have people saying gossip is bad, then whenever I talk about people, I'm going to feel bad because I've been told, culturally, that it's wrong."
The self-described "Female Friendship Educator" and creator of the Friend Forward podcast explains that gossip isn't inherently "negative" and can, in fact, be positive or neutral.
And while this form of conversation helps us to determine and establish cultural and social norms, there is a clear distinction, coined by author Deborah Tannin, that Danielle says can detect what direction your next convo might be headed in. "Ask yourself, 'Am I talking about her, or am I talking against her? If you're talking against her, ask yourself, why do I take pleasure in making her look bad?"
"Ask yourself, 'Am I talking about her, or am I talking against her? If you're talking against her, ask yourself, why do I take pleasure in making her look bad?"
What makes gossip so traceable is the impact it has on those who find themselves partaking in the negative end of it, not just the subject of conversation. "Some of us feel bad even when we don't contribute to the gossip just by being in the room while it happens. And that's one of the impacts of gossip: it makes the bystanders still leave feeling complicit because they didn't necessarily stop it," Danielle says.
Because we've been culturally and socially conditioned to demonize this form of discussion as opposed to understanding it as a social skill, it's natural to have "good gossipers" and "bad" ones, i.e., mean girls, within our many different circles. If we tend to find ourselves in the company of people who take part in bringing a person down, disparaging someone, or trying to tarnish her reputation, what we might be experiencing is something Danielle has coined as "sophisticated stealth."
Sophisticated Stealth: The Art of Mean-Girling
The most effective mean girls use “sophistictaed stealth”. You may not have heard of the term, but you will when my book comes out next spring! Love having this discussion.
"Sophisticated stealth is an elevated version of 'mean girl tactics,'" Danielle explains. "The whole idea is to hit somebody without landing or without throwing a punch — it's the psychological warfare that causes emotional harm to someone."
It's a style of communication that's laced with veiled insults like comments on one's appearance, downplaying a recent accomplishment, or packaging gossip as a noble gesture in order to maintain an appearance of cooperation.
"That's the number one rule in sophisticated stealth: I'm going to hit somebody while keeping myself looking good because we know there are social consequences," she explains, "If I do that, then I look bad, I look petty, I look vindictive, and I have to maintain my reputation. This is why the women with some of the best reputations can also be some of the meanest women."
There is an art to this. So much so that we can find ourselves in the midst of this tactic and not even know it's being done. And while this is often sparked by deep-rooted insecurities and feeling threatened by someone else's success or status, it's important to know how to get yourself out of a negative-leaning conversation when you notice the signs.
How To Get Good at Navigating Gossip
Be a Bore:
"Remember that you don't have to respond to make negative gossip stop. You just have to be very unfun to tell it to."
Sympathize With the Subject of Gossip:
"You might say, 'I feel bad. Because I know if people were talking about my business, I'd be so embarrassed." Show empathy. Showing solidarity with the person they're talking about.
Use a Playful Excuse:
"This helps to not come off as self-righteous by correcting them. Playfully excusing yourself, say, 'I'm your peer, I'm with you, but I can't contribute to this.' It shows you're not participating and signals that you believe that it's not a thing we should be participating in."
Call It Out:
"I strongly encourage you to call it out one on one because if you call out a girl with sophisticated stealth in front of people, you run the risk of people being like, 'What are you talking about?' Okay, because it's so elusive. But one on one, you would say, 'Hey, what did you mean by that comment that you made yesterday?'"
Set the Tone:
"Front load the conversation with your purpose so that nobody misunderstands your intentions. This shakes off some shame so you don't fear your friends leaving, thinking you initiated negative talk."
"The whole point is for the insult/gossip to land, make you be impacted by it, or hurt your feelings. So if you don't react, like you're not even registering, it has less of a hit."
Understanding these moments of conversational transparency and the type of gossip you're participating in is a vital skill to master as society continues to become more connected again. And as we find our way in forming and maintaining new bonds with people, it's good to know who we can confide in and who might take advantage of our vulnerability by understanding what company we're in.
"I think some of the reason why that trend is so popular is because we do that with girls who are our vault. We do that with women we know we're in a safe space with," Danielle says. "I know I'm with girls who understand this as a part of my process to get my feelings out. I understand I'm with women who are not going to go and tell this person.
"Keeping entrusted company around you that's non-judgemental and open-minded promotes an environment where "good" and healthy gossip can be processed and, ultimately, released.
Because we all need a safe space to pop off.
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