Are you wondering why you can't stay off of social media? You can blame it on a "pleasure-seeking" brain chemical called dopamine. When we engage in activities that indulge our senses like eating a yummy dessert, watching our favorite romance film, or checking on how many likes we got on our Facebook post, the brain releases dopamine. Without getting too technical, dopamine gives us a rushing feeling of pleasure that moves us to seek more of that particular stimulus (i.e., social media, food) after dopamine diminishes.
That's why no matter where you go, many people are glued to their cell phones without ever looking up while crossing the street, sitting across a table from someone on a date, or looking at Instagram pics while distracting everyone else that's watching a movie inside the theatre (my personal pet-peeve...ugh).
It's important to note that dopamine is the same brain chemical that is released when people are using drugs and smoking cigarettes. There are many studies that have been and are currently being conducted on behavioral addictions to the Internet and social media. As much as we all love social media platforms, it's important that we are mindful about how much of our time is spent online and if it is preventing us from living our best life.
To avoid staying plugged into your cell phone all day, find meaningful activities that can replace some of the time you spend on social media. Ensure that you get daily quiet time without any digital devices in the same room. And yes, turn the sound off. Another easy way to avoid the pull of wanting to constantly pick up the phone is to simply turn off the notifications. Nothing is more distracting than hearing pings throughout the day. You lose focus, it significantly decreases productivity, and you're not fully engaged in what needs your attention (i.e., time with family, work, recreation).
Technology is the way of the world and I certainly don't believe in getting techno-hostile about digital devices. I run an online business and social media is an essential component of having an online presence. However, achieving balance through personal self-regulation is vital to staying engaged in life without incessantly plugging into the virtual world. Self-discipline is key. Taking regular breaks from the digital world is demanded if you desire to improve the quality of your life.
For a deeper dive into this topic, I recommend Cal Newport's book, Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success in a Distracted World.
Alice is an Educator, Coach, Speaker and Author. She loves teaching women how to create peaceful lives through purpose & productivity.