Toxic relationships just happen. We think we can avoid having a toxic boyfriend or a problematic friend, but sometimes we are trapped in it. Sometimes we realize the toxicity when we are feeling drained or sad, often we don’t see the point and someone simply says one sentence that changes everything: “This person is not doing you good ”. Sometimes we just accept it and take it as normal (dangerous, of course).
What’s more, relations change the way we love, think, and live. Friends and family are a huge part of our lives and -conscious and unconsciously- have an impact on us. We feel emotions because of them. When we have an issue we can’t solve, normally we look for help and talk with people we care, trying to find a way to go through. This scenario applies also to technology.
In other words, the relationships we have and build have an impact on our health and that includes mental health. Also, the way we use technology, social media, and our phones affects us.
According to Shimi Kang, a Canadian psychiatrist who specializes in child and adolescent mental health and who gave an interview to the BBC, when we use technology our brain releases six different types of neurochemicals into our bodies: adrenaline (released by likes), dopamine (linked with instant reward and addiction), oxytocin, cortisol, endorphins (painkiller of the body) and serotonin (released when we are connected and creative). That means that we can experience all kinds of emotions and feelings that possibly could lead to addictions or mental issues.
Perhaps while reading this you think that the word “addiction” is intense, but just check on your phone the average of hours you have spent today looking at the screen of your mobile. Three or four and you thought if it was just one hour? How much time do you spend on your phone instead of the window when you are on the bus? Due to this fact, I think we all should try a tech diet. To put it in another way: we need to answer the question: how to have a healthy relationship with social media?
So, these tips are what I usually do and what I would like to recommend:
- Make a routine. Just as you have a routine to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinners, a good idea could be to plan a routine to check your emails and social media accounts. Usually, most of the people look at their phones fast 60 times a day. What if you could do it just 40 and then 20 and then 10?
- Turn sounds and notifications off. One way to achieve number 1 is to silence your mobile. You are the one who has to decide when you want to check it and not the opposite. In addition, it’s better when you need to focus or to pay attention to someone (it would be so nice if people just do it every time they meet).
- Switch your mobile off at weekends. When you are trying to lose weight you avoid eating carbs every day and then you choose other types of food. Here it’s the same. Trying to enjoy life without apps, social media, emails, calls… what a miracle! Just for 2 days.
- Meet in person when possible. During the coronavirus pandemic, it is not always easy to meet in person, but this applies before and after. How wonderful it is to really connect with a friend or a family member knowing that there are just two people and nothing else! Talking for hours, sharing some meals, and paying entirely attention to the here and now.
- Find something you enjoy and do it. If you feel sad, or alone and are thinking about posting some photos or tweets (that later you may regret), try something different. You may release some neurochemicals doing exercise -walking, running, doing yoga, Pilates- instead of looking for it on Instagram. Do you like cooking? Great. Invest time doing things that make you feel good (and yes, you don’t need to post a photo of your dish, it’s just for you).
In conclusion, the way we use them determines how well or poorly they are for us. We have a chance to ask ourselves how to have a healthy relationship with social media and then keep a balanced life 😉