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Don’t Feel Bad Engineers Designed It So You’d Be Addicted To Technology

Most of us are addicted to technology. This is not an accusation or insult, this is a reality-based observation that technology applications were designed to create hits of endorphins and keep us coming back for more, and it works. For years, I have relied on my phone for entertainment, connection, distraction, whatever. But, recently I’ve become more disturbed by what I see every day, more distracted by people and things that aren’t worth my time, and by far the worst, I play the compare and despair game – despite my best efforts. I’ve been writing and talking about putting down my phone for months and I’ve made progress here and there. It didn’t move the needle though, so to speak. I still went back to the phone throughout the day for stimulation, and still felt bad about things I read and videos I watched. The algorithm knows I can’t say no to animal rescue videos and they just get more and more gruesome. Some days I can’t stop thinking about the horrors I’ve seen and then imagining worse ones.

It wasn’t until I saw someone else in my life on their phone mirroring my behavior that I realized how toxic it is to myself and others. Even though friends and family have told me how annoying it is that I’m on my phone, it didn’t sink in until someone was doing it to me. So, over the past week, I genuinely put down my phone. I’m not kidding, some days my phone usage was down to 38 minutes, and guess what? I had a fantastic mentally-healthy week. I worked on my puzzle, I read, wrote, made outreach calls, and talked to my sponsors. This is the life I want–where I’m present and thinking and inspired by my actions not depressed by them. Feeling addicted to anything makes me feel like crap and I’m done adding to my own misery. Existential dread is canceled this year.

Tips To Put Down The Technology

Replacement activities are where it’s at. There’s nothing fun or exciting about stopping a behavior you’ve become reliant on unless you have something better to do. Finding those replacement activities are the key to making this transition work. Trust me, when you’ve become addicted to technology, you have to have a recovery plan just the same as if you’ve become addicted to alcohol or drugs. What can you do during the hours of time you spent using? I’ve returned to a love of reading, doing jigsaw puzzles (yeah that’s right don’t judge me), long walks outside, outreach calls, shoot sometimes I even clean the house to keep busy. I like cleaning though, it’s soothing for some reason.

This morning as I walked on the beach without my phone, in the 40 degree weather, I heard the birds and the waves and it transported me back to childhood. I think the ocean is part of my soul because I grew up spending a lot of time on Martha’s Vineyard. Anyway, I thought back to childhood summers on Martha’s Vineyard. There were no phones, little TV, and our days were spent engaging in real activities with real people. The memories made me both happy and sad. Sometimes I yearn for a time when I didn’t know what everyone else in the world was doing every single minute of the day.

Exercise, Meditation, Healthy Highs

Whenever you remove an activity that gave you a “high” it works best to replace it with another activity that will give you a high. But, a healthy high. People swear by exercise because it releases a rush of endorphins and is by far one of the best replacement activities for any addiction. It can take up hours, you can join gyms or studios and build a community around the activity. I’ve returned to hot yoga and it takes two hours out of my day, makes me feel great, and I feel connected to others even if I only smile at a few people going in and out of the studio.

Meditation is the best way to rewire your brain and learn to be OK without constant stimulation. Learn to be bored again. We’ve become too dependent on being entertained all the time and it’s stressing our brains out. There’s no space for boredom or natural pleasure. If you struggle with depression, anxiety, or self-esteem issues, I can promise that an addiction to technology won’t help you calm down.

Schedule Your Technology

Social media is part of my job. I can’t delete my accounts and never use them again. However, it is completely possible for me to use scheduling apps and post during my work hours and not be checking the apps on my phone all day. I can do my work in the morning and check the posts at the end of the day, if need be. Scheduling should feel like a relief. The work is done and checked later, but the necessity to stay engaged every second is removed.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Leave your phone in a different room when you’re working or in meetings. This will help you realize how often you grab for it, and hopefully prevent you from getting distracted when looking at your phone isn’t necessary.
  2. Delete apps that don’t serve you from your phone. Check your social media at specific times from your computer and make it impossible to scroll all day.
  3. Set timers or install apps that help with technology addiction. Those can be found here.
  4. Put pen to paper and make a list of things to do instead of scroll. For example, make art, make music, listen to music, learn to play music, cook, learn to cook, do you get the idea?
  5. Support groups! Everyone knows support groups are my favorite. Nothing like talking to other people who are going through the same thing. Find a friend who wants to try this with you or look for actual tech addiction support groups.

The question is, what do you value? Time on your phone staring at other people’s lives or trying to improve your own? For me, at this moment, I’m more concerned with building my own life, relationships and business then obsessing over anyone else’s. Technology and social media have their place but I’m going to limit it for a while and see how that feels. Happy hobbies people.

Read: How To Stop The Self Sabotage

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Tips For Growing Up

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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