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Before COVID-19, one could easily make the argument that we spend too much time online. However, now online connections have become not just a tool to connect, but a safe way to do so. Many people I talk to say, “You know Doc, I spend more time in Zoom meetings than I ever did in boardroom meetings.” Then when they want to talk with friends, they go back on Zoom or some other digital platform. Compound this along with emails, text messages, and social media and you have digital fatigue! So, how do we keep our sanity in a digital COVID-19 world?
Start and end your day offline
When you wake up and your hand reaches for your phone, SLAP IT! Your first thirty minutes after waking up should not be spent online. Use this time to connect to those around you, read, or cook a healthy breakfast. The simple act of making breakfast helps get your brain and body in a rhythm and builds connections between the actions and the dopamine you get from eating.
Create a bedtime ritual that starts an hour before you go to bed. Rule one, no screen time! From there, do what makes you sleepy, whether that includes drinking tea, yoga, or reading. These actions over time will build a connection with your body and brain that signals that it is bedtime. By bookending the start and end of your day with no online or digital connections, you will forge new healthy habits for yourself.
Don’t engage with trolls
I almost wrote this in capital letters as it is so important. When on social media you see something that strikes anger in you. Ignore it. Walk away. Engaging with trolls never improves how we feel. There is a lot going on in our world today, and some people want to use it as fuel to upset others. For your sanity, make the choice not to engages. Trolls feed off your reactions, so block and move on.
If you can manage once a week to go half a day or an entire day without going online, I suggest you do. Our brains like being online because there is added information to digest all the time. Our brain releases dopamine when it receives this new information. Since there is so much content available online, we get a dopamine rush from it and we begin to crave that feeling. Then, we start getting exhausted from staring at a screen for long amounts of time which negatively affects our ability to focus. So, if you can, please do weekly digital detoxes for your brain.
Whichever your device of choice is, if you find yourself mindlessly scrolling, put down your device and walk away. You are scrolling because you are bored. So, do something else. Read, go for a walk, or meditate. Anything to stop the mindless scrolling!
I am sure you can think of many other ways to save your sanity, and I invite you to please share them with others. We need to come together and help one another out, so remember to be kind to yourself and to others.