About a year and a half ago, I wrapped up a few months of an incredibly busy work season packed with travel and long days of teaching dozens of workshops. I was beat. My brain and body were in desperate need of a vacation, but life and work responsibilities didn’t afford one at the time.
Against my better judgment, I asked myself, “what do normal people do to unwind?”
So I tried to chill out through the distraction and entertainment tools that were at my fingertips. Netflix shows, YouTube videos, and the land of social media seemed to help me wind down at first. But soon the addictive nature of these platforms drew me in, making me feel more restless than before. I started craving the hit they provided, and they began to crowd out truly rejuvenating activities like sleep, time outdoors, and healthy leisure.
A few weeks later, I woke up and realized that I had an addiction. Something needed to change.
True to my all or nothing nature, I decided to go on a month long digital detox. Apart from work related computer time, I went screen free. At first it was a challenge, but then I noticed that my sleep improved, my productivity got back on track, and I felt substantially more peaceful.
What caused these positive changes in my brain chemistry when I unplugged?
The buzzes, beeps, and update alerts of our phones excite our brain. Additionally today’s media is designed by experts to be addictive by giving us dopamine hits. This neurotransmitter provides feel good adrenaline kicks, and we learn to crave them. In fact, when neuroscientists compare the brain images of those hooked on their devices to the brains of drug addicts, there are a remarkable number of similarities.
Think of dopamine as the CEO of your brain. It’s the power neurotransmitter that helps you to focus, make good decisions, and be productive. When you expose your brain to constant, addictive distractions, it is drained of its ability to do deep, meaningful work and this leads to ADD like symptoms. Consequently, the brain struggles to focus on the truly important things, like being productive at work.
Consistently getting these adrenaline hits also puts the body in a nearly constant sympathetic or hyper alert state. That unnatural state of non-stop stress is very detrimental to overall health. A calm brain is needed to ensure proper digestion, detoxification, and hormonal balance, which affects weight, sleep, and mental health.
So do yourself a favor, and make sure to unplug regularly so that you can effectively recharge your brain.
To help you succeed, I created a great step-by-step blueprint for managing your screen time and increasing your productivity. Helpful recommendations for effective (free) tools to keep your brain in check are included. CLICK HERE for access!