Ah, smartphones. The best friend we can carry around in our pockets. This small device that’s nearly glued to our hands gives us instant access to many worlds.
It’s exciting to see what’s up on Instagram, take up to six stabs at Wordle, and scroll recipes you’ll never make on Pinterest. It’s also a place where we can share the highlights of our life and, in return, get validation through likes.
With that validation comes a small rush of dopamine, something we’ve all become accustomed – and some of us addicted – to.
While I’m not addicted to posting, I would say I have an addiction to scrolling. I can’t make it through a 50-minute episode of “Dexter” without picking up my phone to check an app or two.
And there is that dopamine rush with it, where you feel like you’re the most up-to-date you’ve ever been. But what about when this becomes too much and we’re overloaded with information and feel bogged down by the constant updates?
First, we need to understand what dopamine is.
It’s a neurotransmitter that works in two spots in the brain: first, its production helps us begin movement and speech. Second, we feel it when we receive or expect a reward. It even creates a kind of “high” similar to what’s found in nicotine and cocaine.
So, if we expect these dopamine hits from social media and we don’t get those results, the dopamine crashes to the ground creating burnout.
Well, this can cause burnout. And, while tempting, the solution isn’t as easy as just deleting all of your social media and walking away clean. Additionally, “take a break” features are too easy to swipe away.
So what can you do?
Mana Ionescu at Lightspan Digital recommends a Dopamine Detox.
While breaking an addiction takes longer than a day, Ionescu recommends starting there and tailoring it to your needs.
Here is what she describes is necessary for a detox:
- Turn off all notifications on your phone. ALL of them. You will be looking at your phone every 10 minutes as it is. You won’t miss anything. We lose endless hours of productivity because of those pings.
- Tell people to call you if it’s urgent. And teach them the difference between urgent and important. So do keep call notifications on.
- Stop over-messaging. The more you message, the more you’ll get responses.
- Shed the pressure to respond right away to messages that don’t need a response right away.
- Take detox days. Nothing but calls, confirming meetings, and using the GPS is allowed on those days.
- Put your phone on sleep mode at night. You can, at least on iPhone, set permissions so that certain phone numbers can get through, in case you’re worried about mom.
- If you’re dating, remember that texting is for laughing, flirting, and confirming plans. Please pick up the phone and talk to that person to get to know them. I will not take you seriously if you just keep texting.
- And yes, we all know the game, whoever looks at their phone first over dinner picks up the bill.
This won’t be easy, but your brain will likely thank you in the long run. And, when you’re back online, hit up the comments and let us know how the detox went!