No one can deny that we’re living in a digital world. Day by day, we’re spending more and more of our time staring at screens: checking updates on social media on our smartphones, checking emails from work on our laptops, and watching videos from famous influencers on our tablets.
Without realizing it, we’ve allowed an increasing number of people to influence our perception of reality. You’ve probably already heard in your social circles that “if you don’t post it, it didn’t happen.” What gets posted on social media becomes a “proof of truth” of your whereabouts.
But what happened to the good ol’ times when you used to hang out in secret with friends or your partner, enjoying the thrill of being “just the two of you”? Nowadays, it seems like we can’t live without social acknowledgment from hundreds of others as we post our secret gatherings on social media.
Letting others define who you are has devasting consequences
The power we’re giving away to social platforms—and to letting other people define who we are—has devastating consequences, especially to young people who are still finding themselves.
Just look at the alarming and increasing rates of people experiencing depression worldwide. It’s obvious that we need to flatten this curve and figure out what’s triggering our social media addictions. We need to learn how to disconnect from our online lives so that we can finally dedicate time to ourselves and explore what’s truly meaningful.
So, you might be wondering: “How can I log out from social media and tune into my own life?”
Based on years of self-introspection and observing what’s worked for clients in my coaching practice, here are the top three steps that will help you the most:
1. Recognize that you have an addiction.
The first step is to become aware that excessive use of social media is an addiction, much like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, and it must be treated as such.
As with any other addiction, it’s helpful to ask for help in the beginning. Ask a friend or close relative to help you curb your use of smartphones and other electronic devices. Consider deleting social media apps so they don’t distract you from your home or work life.
The rewarding social stimuli that you get every time you receive a notification on your phone or tablet releases dopamine in your brain, which makes it feel like a pleasant reward. But the unlimited supply of notifications from apps like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok sets you up to receive a big dopamine influx and, therefore, keeps reinforcing the behavior of checking your phone every time it sounds or vibrates.
A recent review by Harvard University clearly shows that this pattern creates dopamine-driven feedback loops, eventually turning us into addicts and down a path to increased depression, anxiety, and sleep difficulties. By recognizing your addiction, you can make this stop.
2. Make a daily schedule for checking your phone—and stick to it.
I know this isn’t an easy suggestion. It requires willpower and discipline. But as with everything that can be addictive, you need to create a healthy balance that keeps you in control.
Plan specific times, or blocks of time, that you will dedicate to checking social media. Try to stick to this schedule as much as possible. If you don’t follow the schedule to the letter in the beginning, that’s OK, as long as you become consciously aware of it and make an effort to correct your behavior the next time.
With some discipline, you’ll enjoy the new freedom that comes from the practice of dominating your own time and schedule!
3. Reconnect back to your craft.
There once was a time when life’s greatest gifts came from what you could do with your hands. There were no high-tech devices, no outsourcing services, and no one who performed jobs for you. People learned to craft what they needed for themselves. We harvested our own food. Cooked it. Designed and sewed our own clothes. We built our own homes. People used to take pride in what they could do with their bare hands.
In modern times, we’ve lost our sense of craftsmanship and our love for what we could do with our hands, and we exchanged it for electronic devices and building an online persona.
Why not take time off from your screens and create more things with your hands? You’ll be surprised by how rewarding this is. Take pride in your ability to create and design something by yourself. Whether it’s a table, a house, a painting, or a book, craftmanship is the highest expression of human creativity.
Try it out. Tune out your social media devices and tune into real life. Meet real people in real time, make something with your hands, and fully enjoy these off-screen moments. In them, happiness is guaranteed.