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Online Pressures: Does your mind need a digital detox?

For our Online Pressure series, our Blogger Sue Naughton-Marsh asks ‘does your mind need a digital detox?’

Often in life we think about new goals, aspirations and reinventions and feel excited about the possibilities available to us. For many, however, the initial energy and positivity can begin to fade before proper progress is made. You may have tried a new exercise regime or hobby, but have you considered a ‘digital detox’ as a way of finding a mental and emotional balance?

What is a ‘digital detox’?

A ‘digital detox’ requires abstaining from the social aspects of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and any other social sites you are involved in. It also involves reducing the amount of time spent on your phone and tablet.

Scientifically speaking, the brain can only deal with so much incoming information at one time, and the more time you spend looking at other peoples’ everyday activities on the internet, or posting about your own, the more ‘noise’ you create in your brain. This leaves it too tired to put energy into all the things you would like to explore and achieve.

When is it time to detox?

Much of our social media activity is about presenting images of ourselves and reporting on our normal daily activities, all of which distract us from enjoying the moment.
You know when it’s not doing you any good when:

  • You feel a tinge of jealousy, isolation or comparison when looking at others online
  • You are compelled to look at these sites every day (i.e. you feel anxious and distracted if you missed a day)
  • You are replacing real life interactions with social media interactions
  • You are dealing with increasing levels of anxiety, stress and negative cyclical thinking

If any of these apply to you, creating some brain space is what you need.

Ready to detox, but how?

  1. Choose a timescale that suits you which is at least a few days and if possible, a week or more.
  2. Tell your friends and family about your detox so they can support you and know to get in contact by telephone or another method.
  3. Decide what you will do towards one of your goals instead of finding a distraction on social media.
  4. Whenever you feel the urge to abandon your detox, find something enjoyable to do that works towards a goal you have set.
  5. Don’t be distracted when others around you are still using their gadgets, keep focused on what you are trying to achieve.
  6. Don’t surf the internet unless you have something specific to look up about a goal.
  7. No gadgets before bed or in bed - read a book instead!

When you have finished your detox recap on what you have achieved; from the work you have done towards your goals to how you feel having avoided social media.

Some questions to consider after your detox

  • How do you feel about the progress you have made? 
  • Did you feel anxious about not being on social media? 
  • Did you quash your fear of missing out?

Whatever your feelings you should feel proud of the goals you set and your achievements towards them. Plus, the vital brain space will enable you to harness your creativity and plan your future.

Sue Naughton-Marsh is a Psychotherapist who specialises in helping people get rid of stress, anxiety and panic 

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