STOP Screen Time and Social Media from messing with our Heads!

Hi my friends!

A new blog and mini video on a topic that affects all of us and has been a popular coaching topic lately; How to Stop Screen time and social media time from messing with out minds!

Would love it if you’d share your comments and share with others you feel could benefit. The book I reference is a classic and has helped so many (even though it’s a bit of a dry, boring read, reminds me of the Buckley’s commercial, it tastes awful but it works 😉 

Thanks all!

Mq

STOP Screens and Social Media from Messing with our Minds!

Overwhelmed?? …..your screens, blame not.

As I mentioned in my video, our minds can go to unhealthy places when we don’t control them while surfing, swiping, and scrolling. It’s like we have 2 brains; one is is automatic, and was developed millions of years ago at the base of our brain stem to keep us safe. It alerts us to danger and threats but tends to be overly dramatic and makes our minds ‘spin out’ unnecessarily at times – think of Chicken Little…..

Our other brain was developed later (100’s of thousands of years ago)  to advance our species. It’s where our logic, reason and planning abilities reside and it functions with more optimism. The big difference with this brain is that it is NOT automatic we must consciously activate it.

The two should work in tandem. when walking down a deserted street on a rainy night, our chicken brain alerts us to an unfamiliar sound along the curb. Chicken brain raises the hair on the back of our neck and warns there could be a face in the gutter. Most reasonable people would check in with their “inner Yoda” and it will advise us to laugh it off. There are other types, like me, who’d run home first, then check in with Yoda once I was safely hiding under my covers).

Same sort of teamwork should happen when we’re surfing the net, playing on FB, Instagram & Snapchat or scrolling over news channels;

We make comparisons to others: what they have, what they look like, what they’re doing and we have an interpretation of these images.

If our interpretation is a healthy one all is ok:

“Gee, just look at that those hot abs!! I must get back to the gym * goes off to get gym membership *

Unhealthy interpretations sound something like this:

“Gee, just look at those hot abs!! I could never look like that, FML, I was born to look like a barrel, that’s why I’m sitting home alone, I’ll never be happy…..*grabs another piece of cake*

The first statement is positive, proactive and affirming while the second one is negative, paralyzing and self defeating.

Repeated self defeating statements can be damaging because we believe what we repeat to ourselves. We need to recognize them, dismiss them, refute them and replace them.

Our Cortex/inner Yoda can do this for us ….

But, here’s the thing, when we’re on social media we’re so inundated with information from our feeds coming at us in rapid fire that we remain in auto pilot and don’t check in with our inner Yoda to make sense of what we’re telling ourselves and stop the banter.

By the time our heads hit pillows, some of us have put in full day’s worth of self loathing. This downward spiral of negativity can lead to #mooddisorders. Samantha (a Professional Financial Consultant, wife and a mother of 2) had been feeling irritable and moody for some time and described her state this way: “I feel like I’m permanently in a haze of overwhelm and cranky”.

To help Sam in figuring out where her irritability and restlessness were truly coming from, she captured her moods for 2 weeks (mood log in half hour increments). After reviewing her raw data, she came to some A HA moments: 

1) She was happiest doing things she thought she resented: making breakfasts and getting her kids off to school and making dinners while helping her kids get their homework done and when she was busy at work with her clients.

2) She was at her lowest points doing things she thought she loved: time spent on social media, watching or reading the news or on Netflix.

Studies and research (validated by Psychological & Mental Health Associations)  corroborate Samantha’s experience. Social media platforms have been linked to  anxiety, depression, panic disorders and other mood disorders, especially in kids.  The main reason for this is our internal dialogue when we compare ourselves to the social personas of others and 60% adults report that they check in on social media platforms multiple times a day.

When Sam captured her thoughts during her lowest moods, she realized she was comparing herself with friends and complete strangers on Instagram. She felt jealous when her friends were doing things she wasn’t doing, then felt guilty for being jealous. She berated herself for not getting to the gym when she saw fit people on IG, then felt more guilt when on Pinterest because she had no time for DIY projects with her kids.

After Netflix, she felt “behind” in her housework, and after the news, she ruminated about things like Lyme disease getting her son (who loves to play in the woods) and the Tax Legislation affecting her clients. Just before closing her eyes, she remembered how much work she had to face at her job the following day.

Essentially, it’s not our devices, platforms, news or our email that puts us in a funk but rather our interpretation and internal dialogue with ourselves that does. 

 

All of these distorted thoughts (Sam’s #worry, #guilt and #ruminating) can be categorized into 10 types according to David Burns and his classic book of Feeling Good in which he shares how to identify and refute them (btw the book is the #1 self help book most frequently recommended for depression and anxiety by Mental Health professionals in USA and has a podcast )

Sam applied this technique with herself and then her kids; using chicken brain and Yoda brain as analogies. She had her youngest boy who loved gaming to use emoji stickers on the fridge to log his moods; after basketball practice, after reading, after getting chores completed and after gaming. Her teen girl used the techniques to refute her #FOMO thinking:

Sam’s kids could see, for themselves, (using neuroleadership approach), what activities improved their moods and which ones didn’t. They’ve learned earlier than most of us, that their interpretations when they surf, scroll and swipe are what impact their moods not the images and events they see.

Sure, Sam’s kids could shut off their devices to ensure their minds were healthy, but that would be like adults not driving to avoid collisions. Eventually we need to get back behind the wheel.

Just like driving, exploring our the net far, far away is a privilege for which we need both brains on our screen so we can stay out of our inner dark side.