I love social media. In fact, I wouldn't have much of a business or be able to keep track of friends and family without it. We are able to see pictures of new babies, new recipes, and all the lovely life moments of our dear loved ones. On the other side of things, we have become disconnected from our own realities because some of us are so addicted to the virtual one. We are living in an age of ever-increasing technology that has delivered digital devices to our hands and made them accessible day and night. These technological advancements may actually be causing more harm than good to our health and relationships, and detaching ourselves from them is becoming a daily challenge.
The Gut-Brain Connection
I personally have had quite the love-hate relationship with technology but have learned to put some boundaries around it because of the effects it was having on my health. I noticed a couple of things about myself: 1. The longer I worked or was on my phone or laptop, the more I seemed to want to be on it, it felt like an addiction. 2. The longer and more I was on it, the more sleep deprived and brain fogged I felt.
As it turns out, there is science behind why I was feeling what I was feeling. Dopamine is a chemical produced by our brains that produces our "feel good" hormones. It gets released when we eat chocolate, have sex, after we exercise, and, when we have successful social interactions- including those on social media. It is also responsible for addictions such as drug use and gambling. It rewards us for beneficial behaviors and motivates us to repeat them.
Interestingly, 50% of dopamine and 90% of serotonin are produced in your gut. Serotonin is the hormone that helps you sleep and keeps you calm. In fact, anxiety drugs are designed to raise your serotonin levels. Because the two are connected in regards to your mental well being and gut health, if you are draining your body of dopamine and serotonin all day because of an addiction to technology, you may have problems with sleep, anxiety, and depression which in turn can lead to other health issues such as weight loss, heart disease, and diabetes. Are you seeing the connection?
The reason I am telling you all of this is so that you can do something about it. However difficult the task may be, it is not impossible to digitally detoxify yourself if you stay committed. The following step-by-step guide will help you set—and keep—a limit on all that technology to prevent it from taking over your life completely.
How to Do a Digital Detox:
Plan your digital detox: Because so much in your life depends on technology, make a well thought-out and well-timed plan for your digital detox to minimize the impact on the necessities of your routine.
Overcome your digital addiction: Almost everyone is stuck in a digital rut these days. We have become slaves to our smart devices. To overcome this digital addiction, you need to set some boundaries for yourself.
Entertain yourself without a digital screen: The next step in digitally detoxifying yourself is to find ways to entertain yourself without using any digital screens. You can read a great book, cook for yourself, exercise, go out, play board games, or a wealth of other great options.
Turn off the lights early: We are so addicted to the digital screen these days that it occupies us from the minute we wake until we turn off the light to get to bed. Even then, our smartphone lurks in the shadows, keeping us awake, preoccupied, and out of reach of proper sleep. This unhealthy routine is causing detrimental effects to our health. Excessive use of a digital screen can slow brain function and deteriorate our vision. It can also lead to other physical health issues, like obesity. Set boundaries like limiting the time you spend on a digital screen and going to sleep early—without your phone.
Go old school: Another effective approach to defeating the addiction of digital screens is to go old school. By going “old school,” we mean you try out the things that we used to occupy ourselves before smartphones. You can start writing, painting, or other arts and crafts that encourage a calmer, more peaceful approach and keep you away from the tech world.
Avoid social media: In the last decade, social media has been brought to our very hands through our mobile devices, making it all the harder to resist it. With a swipe of your finger, you are connected to the whole wide world, which is quite addictive in itself. This addiction is having a negative effect on modern world relationships. Focus on your real, tangible personal relationships and leave the digital “friends” behind.
Take a break from your e-mail: It is critical that you give yourself a break from the constant ping of incoming mail, which, at times, may take you to the verge of mental disorders. E-mail has destroyed all the barriers that are important to staying sane in a busy world. You need sleep, but your client lives in another time zone, sends you an email, now you’re up. If at all possible, remove those alerts from your phone and use dedicated times to address your email list.
Leave your phone alone: Being addicted to your smartphone is a common phenomenon these days that renders many of us unproductive and unhealthy in its obsession. If you feel a constant need to check your phone every five minutes and can’t seem to get over it, you need to take a step back and leave your phone alone.
Pay attention to your loved ones: Living in an age where you are constantly bombarded by one form of technology or another, you hardly pay attention to your loved ones and may even be drifting apart from them. Re-connect with your family and friends by disconnecting from technology and actually spending time with them.
Get enough sleep: Good sleep is as important to life and health as good food, perhaps even more. One bad night of sleep is written all over your face and the body language the next day. The quality and quantity of our sleep has been greatly influenced and negatively affected by the advent of digital screens. Cut off your screen time well before bedtime, and leave your devices out of the bedroom.
Managing stress in our hectic worlds is becoming a necessity. If you don't take charge of your life and learn to care for yourself, body, mind, and soul, it can become all too easy to succumb to the pressures and the stress. Start with something, anything, today to begin find peace, and see what a difference it will make in your life.
To Your Health,
Certified Health Coach & Master NLP Coach