Ginger Garfield is a holistic health coach.
Are you addicted to social media? How many hours do you spend each day checking the number of likes or retweets you've gotten from a particular post or tweet? The feedback loop associated with social media can have a big impact on one's self-esteem. We refresh our pages and feeds more and more in order to see all those likes and to feel good about ourselves. The problem arises when we go overboard, giving attention to social media at the expense of our spouses, families, and careers. So, what do you do when you need to digitally detoxify?
*Take regular tech breaks. Being connected 24/7/365 allows us no time to mentally recharge. This leads to burn out and productivity loss in the workplace. Stress levels increase the longer this goes on. Regular tech breaks give your mind the opportunity to relax.
Every time your phone beeps, you respond like Pavlov's dogs. This response fractures your concentration and keeps you from being fully present in the task being performed. By removing digital distractions, you are able to really pay attention and get more done in less time.
Social media feedback apparently activates the brain's addiction center, resulting in a hit of feel-good dopamine and leaving us wanting more and more. Nipping this pleasure seeking behavior in the bud will ward off a full-blown addiction. Did you know that treatment plans and digital detox facilities exist for this type of issue?
The light emitted from cell phones and computers may reduce production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter important for sleep. Nighttime use of these electronics is thought to interfere with sleep and cause depression.
*Learn to unplug. In the mornings, prepare for your day without the blare of the television and the distraction of phones, games, and computers. You'll get ready faster, be better organized, and be in a calmer frame of mind.
Set an email schedule and only look at your email at certain times during the workday. If necessary, set up an auto-reply that alerts people to the times you will be reading and responding to email.
*Set work boundaries. Leave your work at work. Stop taking calls and reading emails at a particular time every day. Engage your email auto-reply and personal voicemail message to let people know that you will address their concerns the next business day. Focus on being present in your life. Spend quality time with family and friends. Turn off and put away the electronics while you do so.
*Find ways to “get off the grid.” Go camping or find a cabin in the woods or mountains where there is no cell tower signal, no Wi-Fi available. If you want something more structured, inquire at your favorite lodge, hotel, or resort about digital detox packages. More and more of these are popping up all the time.
The important thing to keep in mind is that we didn't become hooked on our gadgets overnight. Make unplugging a daily practice. Although you may feel anxious (that dreaded “naked” feeling) without your devices at first, you will adjust very quickly. The rewards will be almost instantaneous, too. You will be more organized, more focused, more productive, and more present in your life and the world around you. A little detox will go a long way toward improving your quality of life.
Ginger Garfield is a holistic health coach. Learn more about Ginger at http://www.gingergarfield.com.