Take a digital diet
Take a digital diet
Cutting back on the digital onslaught might help ease your mind as well as free up time says Guy Vicars.
North Korea launches another rocket. Riots break out on Manus Island. Apple unveils the latest version of the iPhone. Donald Trump tweets.
Not only does the digital world consume an enormous amount of time and gigabytes, it can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.
We are constantly bombarded with information. Many of the issues are vast, complex and beyond our control. We begin to feel powerless – the functional elements of depression.
When people are threatened the natural tendency is to shut down. We retreat to save energy and protect ourselves, problem-solving capacity reduces as we summon our internal resources to defend and/or protect against the possibility of the danger.
Digital bombardment can also be a threat. Do any of these responses sound familiar?
a clenching in your gut
tightness in your jaw
showing less restraint
becoming more cynical
having difficulty concentrating
Digital junk food
The current digital climate is like junk food. Junk food was originally designed for people who had limited means and time for accessing food. Used on occasion, there is little wrong with fast food. It becomes a problem and a health issue when it forms a significant proportion of diet and lifestyle.
The digital climate is no different.
Availability is the issue. When you wake up, do you immediately reach for your smartphone and the next delivery of news? Or, maybe it’s e-junk, ads for more stuff that you don’t need or can’t afford. If you don’t have “it”, you are left feeling that you are lacking.
This is like eating more food simply because it’s available. With an addiction, we don’t register that we are full. We just keep going.
Maybe it’s not ads you respond to. Maybe it’s the pressure to check email. Being available 24/7 becomes a badge of success; the digital equivalent of going to the kitchen in the dark and scoffing ice-cream straight from the tub.
What about being mindful?
Mindfulness is often proclaimed as the new miracle drug. Being mindful is clearly a helpful skill, but using mindfulness to limit your digital overload is the psychological equivalent of trying to solve a junk food problem with more exercise; it might help a bit but unless you cut calories, you won’t lose weight.
What’s the solution?
Decision and discipline. You don’t stop at every fast food outlet that you pass (do you?!). Reduce the diet of junk going into your brain by being disciplined and selective. The volume of information available is overwhelming. Like too many carbs, it dulls the thinking rather than sharpening it. Is this how you want to spend your time?
Consuming news and social media simply because it’s in front of us is the bulimia of thinking.
The solution is making good choices about what you ingest from the electronic world and be disciplined about sticking to them.
About the Author
Guy Vicars is a practising psychotherapist, counsellor and trainer, guysdomain.com.au.
4 December 2017