Are my online habits affecting me?

Are my online habits affecting me?

We live in a digital world. Many of us work with technology and are required to be on our computer for over half the day for our jobs. And the internet can be very entertaining as everyone who has gone down a You Tube video rabbit hole knows. So where is the line? Where is the line between a place that eats up a lot of our time and something that is actively hurting our lives? Well, a lot of that comes from how it is affecting the rest of our lives. 

Relationships

The first place I tell people to look is to their relationships. When is the last time you saw a friend in real life? More importantly, when is the last time you would rather have seen them in real life rather than through an online source (video game chat, text, comment on their twitter)? When online communication is an extension of your relationship and just one of many ways you are connected, it is a great modern way to stay connected. When online communication has replaced and is the preferred way to communicate, it is time to start taking a closer look at our relationship to the internet, gaming, or porn. 

Distress Tolerance

A great easy test to conduct if you are wondering about your technology habits is to start with a 72 hour technology break. Keep a notebook and note how you feel every few hours. This exercise can be very enlightening around your withdrawal. Many of our apps, from email to games, are designed to be addictive, releasing little dopamine hits to our brain to keep us checking up on them. And just like with any addictive substance, when we stop, we have withdrawal. If you don’t get the chance to play your nightly game, do you feel more irritated? Does not having access to your phone for a day decrease your patience? Do you find yourself angry or incredible numb or just sad for no reason if you are not using your game/web camming site/work email for a weekend? These are all signs that your ability to handle distress has diminished and that your usage of the internet has become your coping tool. It might be slight and easily adjusted or a full addiction at this point. Either way, examining your relationship to the internet might be useful for starting to change your relationship with the internet. Because you and I both know, this isn’t like alcohol, you can’t just not ever use the internet again.

Loss of control

One of the biggest indicators that the internet has moved from an unhealthy habit to a full addiction is the loss of control. Specifically, your ability to not use it or to walk away. Just like with a drink, can you look at just the one You Tube video you wanted? Can you watch just one porn video? Can you play your game only once? Can you not watch your video or play your game for one night because of your choices? How much control do you have over your habits? Answering this question honestly to yourself is important if you want to change. If you don’t want to change, this is just information that might help you answer questions about what is and is not working in your life and why. Either way, you might want to ask your wife, partner, kids, parents, kids, or roommates what they think. You might be surprised by what you hear.

No matter what, the internet is here to stay and creating a healthy way to interact with it is important. If you need help or just a non-judgemental space to talk about it, please reach out to a mental health specialist or a friend to start the conversation. You are not alone and millions are adjusting to this world alongside you. If you need some help implementing, please give me a call, (650) 503-9142 to set up an appointment and we will get you started on reconnecting to your life and your family.

If this speaks to you an you’re looking for help in California, please schedule a consult.

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