Have you ever found yourself up late at night scrolling through Facebook when you were meant to be going to sleep?
You’re not alone.
Social media addiction is becoming an increasing problem.
As technology develops exponentially, at the click of a button we can access an infinite amount of information. With this privilege, comes the potential cost of information overload, technology addiction, increased distractibility and low-grade background anxiety as we try to keep on top of things.
With invisible umbilical cords connecting us to our devices, staying present and undistracted, especially when we’re with our children, is becoming an increasing challenge.
There is an antidote for social media addiction: Mindfulness. It’s a technique with origins in Buddhism but it’s being scientifically proven as a powerful tool for enhanced well-being and mental focus.
Mindfulness is a training that helps us become more present, self-aware and better able to respond rather than react on autopilot in our everyday lives. It’s been shown to help with impulse control by experts such as Judson Brewer, American addiction psychiatrist, and is a powerful tool for kicking addictions ranging from drugs to social media. In his book “The Craving Mind: From Cigarettes to Smartphones to Love, Why We Get Hooked and How We Can Break Bad Habits,” Brewer shares research on the power of mindfulness to disrupt addictive behaviour.
Here are four steps to overcome your social media addiction with mindfulness:
Take a moment to reflect on your relationship with social media. Are you happy with the way you are using it? Do you feel you might be a little addicted? If you find yourself scrolling through Facebook until the early hours of the morning, the answer is probably yes.
2. SET AN INTENTION
Set an intention around changing your behaviour in relation to technology and think about practical steps you can take to make it more difficult to get hooked. Consider taking the social media apps off your phone and commit to sleeping without your mobile in the bedroom (even for just a few nights to see what effect it has).
The next time you feel the urge to check social media take a pause. Recognise you are caught in craving. Count to ten before continuing to use it. This can interrupt the urge.
When we crave anything there’s usually an uncomfortable emotion or feeling we are trying to get away from which leads us to do something that will bring us pleasure. Take a moment to bring your attention to your body. Sense any emotions or feelings that are present (agitation, stress, loneliness, boredom). Once you identify the emotion, silently label it to yourself which brings more mindful awareness to your current state and shows you what the underlying issue might be that is driving the urges.
Mindfulness, this ability to be present from moment to moment, allows you to consciously notice what is happening as it is happening and pause before you act on your urges. You can disrupt your automatic habits and social media addiction with mindfulness.
Becoming aware of your cravings is the first step to having more choice around how you’re going to relate to them. Mindfulness is a practice that will help you catch the urge before you act on it and help you break bad habits.
If you want to train your brain towards greater presence, less distraction and better impulse control to help break bad social media habits try out this FREE downloadable guided meditation.
To read the next Mindful in May article, click here.
NOTE: This article was written by Dr. Elise Bialylew and is part of the Mindful in May series, the world’s largest online mindfulness meditation and fundraising campaign. Every May, thousands of people worldwide join the program featuring the world’s best experts and build mental resilience through committing to 10 minutes of meditation per day, while also raising funds to address the world’s most urgent global issues. Over the last eight years, Mindful in May has taught over 40,000 people to meditate while raising $800,000 to bring clean, safe drinking water to the developing world. Due to the unprecedented and catastrophic bushfires in Australia, this year Mindful in May’s fundraising efforts will be directed toward this cause.