When my clients report feeling anxious, overwhelmed, stuck, and generally in a funk, I recommend this simple practice for one week. It’s Dope.
When they do it they report feeing:
- Calm and relaxed.
- Happier and more confident.
- More creative and able to focus.
Want some of that yourself?
Stay off all Social Media for one week. That’s it. That’s the whole practice. I said it was simple. I didn’t say easy.
This simple strategy reduces anxiety and increases confidence and creativity 100% of the time. Here’s why:
It’s all about the Dopamine, baby. I told you it was dope 🙂
Dopamine is that neuromodulator that affects your sense of motivation, drive, productivity, satisfaction, and even your sense of time. You have a natural base-line level of dopamine. That baseline is different for each of us. Some things you do boost your dopamine above your baseline – drinking coffee, exercising, eating chocolate, having sex and yes… social media.
Your body is exquisitely fine-tuned to keep you in a state of homeostasis, so after experiencing a boost of dopamine your dopamine level will drop below your baseline. What does that mean for you?
Since a rise of dopamine above your baseline makes you feel motivated and energized, a drop below your baseline makes you feel unmotivated, flat, moody. Feeling that way sucks, so you’ll want to grab the closest and easiest dopamine boosting agent you can. You won’t want to do anything challenging cause you’re in a low-motivation funk. And what’s the simplest dopamine hit – you’re probably holding it in your hand. Scrolling just a little longer seems like it will make you feel better, but it doesn’t.
Whether your dopamine hit comes from chocolate, coffee, exercise, nicotine, social media or any of the other dopamine boosters, you don’t get that same initial hit with repeated use. The initial dopamine response gets weaker and shorter with prolonged use, but the after-effects get stronger and longer. More funk. Less fun. This is commonly known as addiction. Craving more and more of a stimulant to feel better, with diminishing effects. It would be like watching your favorite movie over and over and over again. You want to feel the way you felt the very first time you watched it, but you can’t get that same high. It may be enjoyable at first but that pleasure will diminish over time.
Tech companies know this. That’s why they hire top neuroscientists to make their sites stickier <- Just another word for addictive.
If you’ll give yourself a break, and not give in to the addictive pull of social media of any kind, your dopamine level will return to its natural baseline. You’ll have more motivation to do other things. That will boost your creativity, productivity, sense of well being and confidence.
If you’re thinking “I just can’t stay off Social Media”, I’d like you to get creative and ask yourself “How can I stay off Social Media for just one week?” When you ask yourself empowering questions, your mind will go looking for an answer.
If your job requires you to be on Social Media, as is the case with many of my clients, you can do this:
Schedule the times you’ll be on social media. Keep that time to a minimum. Set a timer as soon as you open whatever apps you’re using. When the alarm rings, turn it off.
Know why you’re using it. What is the goal you want to achieve for your work while you’re in there? Focus on that and do it. Then put it away.
Stop yourself from mindless scrolling. As soon as you catch yourself scrolling, as soon as you’ve lost track of the reason you’re there for your work, shut it down.
After a week’s break from addictive scrolling, notice how you feel and what you’ve accomplished. And if you know someone who’s feeling funky and struggling to get sh*t done, feel free to share this with them, and maybe go social-media-free together!
I haven’t touched on the effects of comparing your real world feelings to the perfectly curated and coiffed lives your scrolling through, but if you find yourself slipping into despair when you compare, this might help.
I’d love to hear what a week without social media changes for you.