We have never been more connected yet distant with one another from the time man stepped on this planet. We have battled our way through a global pandemic and moments where the world and country unites and puts politics aside to come together has never, since the world wars been more apparent. We collectively stood on our doorsteps and applauded the invaluable contribution from our NHS staff. We rallied together to offer up help to the elderly and the NHS staff by selfless volunteering. We found ourselves smiling to one another in the street. However, social distancing and extended periods of self-isolation have made many feel just that – isolated in a unified world.
Through these periods of self-isolation we have turned to social media to keep abreast of the news and more importantly what our friends our doing. If have joined in unison to sign petitions to help the self-employed we have taken part in online PE lessons and more. Never before has social media usage been at a high. For some, who usually had the distraction of work, social media and selfies have been able to liberate us from the present – and at the time worrying state of affairs with the pandemic. Many employers forbid the use of phones during the working day. At a time when the use of social media was limited to our lunch breaks, weekends, evenings and mornings, a 2014 study suggested that we check our phones 221 times a day. A US statistic suggested that as well as checking our phone we touched our phone on average 2,617 times as day. This has led to the very real ‘phantom buzzes’ to check for dopamine firing dings of a notification. Fast forward to our extended periods of self-isolation and this number would be much higher!
We are now living in a society where for many who are active on social media, are constantly seeking the approval of others. This is manifested in ‘likes’ or ‘emoji smiles’ or ‘post shares’ or ‘post comments’. In similarity as to how sugar fires up our addiction receptors in our brains, so to does social media feeds our neural pathways which are equally associated with reward and pleasure.
Similarly to other addictive vices such as smoking, eating junk food, taking drugs, or drinking, the more we use our phones or devices to access social media and receive the pleasures from a like or share, the more we become addicted to it. We constantly vie to present the best version of ourself, create the most shareable content and beautiful photos. We eventually do and have become addicted and dependent on it.
This of course has major side effects. Rates of depression are at an all-time high and mental health is a very real concern for the NHS. This is in no small part due to the destructive power of social media. We constantly aspire to be similar or the same as somebody who is posting ‘their best life’ to the world. Our attention spans have dropped with the real world and our connection to real humans is slowly ebbing away. When was the last time you went out (with the exception of sport) without your mobile phone, and therefore access to social media?
To reconnect with the world, and to find life can give us enough highs and dopamine we need to take a digital detox. Try going without your phone and access to social media. This will give you a perfect indication as to just how addicted you are. If your rebuttal is simply – I don’t need to – I could do that for a week – ask that same question to someone who eats sugar regularly or junk food or smokes. You will find they answer in much the same way and are often unprepared to take on this test. That is addiction.
So, how can we help ourselves? Start small. Try giving yourself a one day digital detox where you don’t access any social media for a day. If you can master that, try a few days. Then try a week. Take back control of the beast which currently controls you! You will reap a whole range of psychological benefits and well as better sleep. With the quality of your sleep so intrinsically linked to longevity – consider a social media detox a way of extending your life too!
By removing the overwhelming flood of information to us on a daily basis, we allow ourselves to become much more focussed, mindful and present. You will notice the noise and chatter in mind start slowing down. You will also find yourself able to focus a lot better and be more open to connecting with people on a human, one to one, physical level too.
For some, simply not accessing social media for a day or week will be a real challenge. We are addicted. Some workarounds which I have used with my clients include investing in a fridge safe. These are safes which are often used for dieters where you can set the time that the safe will open. Pop your phone in there, set your time or length of time you want it shut for and hey presto you have self-imposed a lockdown on your social media access.
Another technique to overcome the addiction of social media is to download and use an app. Freedom app (freedom.to or antisocial.80.pct.com) both allow you to set a time when you can and cannot access social media on your phone or computer. The phrase, ‘Burning the bridges behind you’ means that it becomes all the more difficult to move back and all the more easy to move forward. You could go one step further and delete your social media accounts from your phone. The greater the action we take, the greater the benefits we will yield.
You could do all these actions alongside hiring a life coach. They will give you the support and guidance you need. Moreover, they will hold you to account. This accountability will ensure you don’t reinstall your social media apps to your phone, break into your safe or just take a sneaky peak at social media on your day off. Having this accountability is worth it weight in gold and you can assured your life coach will absolutely celebrate your success because there is no doubt life coaches and NLP practitioners are just as addicted to social media as the rest of us.
To find one of our many online, telephone based or face to face life coaches here on Life Coach Near Me, simply use the search bar on the home page to search for your county and then your refine your search to include the search parameters you want. Reach out to a life coach or NLP practitioner that suits your requirements and see how together you can start detoxing from social media and the ills it gives society. That’s not to say it doesn’t give lots of great benefits too. But that’s the same as any vice or addictive substance right? 😉 Good luck!