You know that feeling of absolute PANIC? You can’t continue your day because you forgot something at home, but it’s not the front door you didn’t close or your pet you forgot to feed.
It’s your smartphone.. And the withdrawals begin.
Hey, I get it! I’ve been caught without my mobile and it feels like my arm’s been cut off. It’s as if your phone is an extension of your body – literally.
We’ve become conditioned to our devices, as the only immediate means of connection with our (inner and outer) worlds. Regardless of what’s going on in that moment, the pressing thought of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is constantly running through us.
image via pinterest
Digital overload is changing the way we connect, express and process our emotions. Many of us are addicted to our devices, whether it be messages, emails or social media. The addiction I’m referring to is an addictive behaviour (habit), which is different to clinical addiction. However, an addictive behaviour can turn into clinical addiction if left unaddressed.
So why are so many of us living our lives online?
People today are used to having an active mind with thoughts moving at a fast pace – that’s normal. What’s challenging is slowing the mind down. Hence, why mindfulness and meditation are becoming a more prominent force in our society.
The Internet instantly plugs us into the outer world, desensitising us to the world within and around us. This passive over stimulation of the mind, leaves little room to feel, explore and experience through our senses. This addictive behaviour of using our devices creates an impression of instant gratification.
How does this happen?
Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that gives us that pleasure and reward sensation. Imagine you’ve had a really bad day and you’re over it. When we go online, we’re searching for an external hit to feel pleasure without having to move through the motions. That ‘bing’ of a message received, instantly releases dopamine into the brain – instant gratification, instant reward.
This is where addictive behaviour begins. We tend to squash difficult feelings and halt our ability to work through emotions. Instead of exploring what we’re feeling and reflecting on it, we turn to that instant hit of dopamine as a first response. We lose the ability to develop our emotional process. By seeking immediate pleasure, we make it more difficult to understand who we are.
We understand physical growing pains. We also understand our mind’s great capacity to learn. But we don’t place, as much importance on is our emotional growth.
Take this learning process out of the equation and you take the ability to support yourself in all areas of life. Constantly reaching for a device to escape from an unwanted feeling, is conditioning your self to disengage. Resulting in an addictive habit to manage your emotions.
So how do we stop this from happening? The answer is simple: Make the room for digi-free time in your day.
Here are some examples:
1. Keep all devices out of the bedroom 30 minutes before you go to bed (charge them in the living room).
2. If it’s your phone operates as an alarm clock, go and buy an actual clock.
3. When watching a movie, keep your devices out of site (turned over is not out of sight). It’s easier to avoid temptation than resist temptation.
4. When having a quick bite to eat on your own, keep your phone in your bag. Just moving your eyes up, can instantly uplift your mood.
5. Meeting up with friends for a meal, make a pact to leave your phones in your bags. Even when one goes to the bathroom, look around, make eye contact with people and smile.
Not having your phone or device attached to your hip, doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It creates an opportunity for you to look up and check in with you. One of life’s most important skills that I share with my clients is learning how to emotionally support your self. So don’t let the fear of missing out, make you miss out on your life.