Recovering from an Internet addiction is just like recovering from any other addiction. In addition to committing to Internet “rehab”, you’ll need to address the underlying problems that led to your becoming susceptible to it in the first place, such as boredom, anxiety and depression.
Tip #1: Build up your “real life” social network. Quality real life relationships can lessen your need for online relationships. Set aside time daily to spend totally UNPLUGGED with friends and family.
Tip #2: Set use goals and stick to them. Limit the amount of time you spend online with the help of a timer. Commit to turning off your computer, tablet or smartphone after a certain hour in the evenings and spend that time with your family instead.
Tip #3: Treat the Internet as a tool, not as a best friend. Technology has become an indispensible pipeline of information and interaction and thus, is hard, if not impossible to give it up entirely. Be mindful of the exact reason you’re getting online and stick to that reason. Don’t let a check of the weekend weather turn into a two-hour stint following threads on Facebook.
Tip #4: Alter your routine, break your usage patterns. Take note of the times of day you’re most vulnerable to mindlessly surfing the Internet and then take action to disrupt those habits with alternative behavior: take a walk, call a friend, play with your kids or pets, or run an errand.
Just like any other addiction, there will be withdrawal symptoms when you take away the drug of choice—in this case, the dopamine hit you get from Internet use. You’ll look for ways to justify going back to it, and you’ll have slip ups every now and then. The key is to not let small setbacks lead to a major failure. Be compassionate with yourself and ask for help when you need it. Take it one day at a time. Eventually, you’ll find yourself able to enjoy the Internet and social media for what it was intended to be—a tool that adds fun and interest to everyday life—and not something that it was never intended to be—an escape from everyday life.
Do you have any advice for overcoming addiction?
When does being constantly connected and forming cyber relationships cross the line between one of life’s little pleasures into a full-blown and dangerous cyber- addiction? Take this quiz to find out…
Ah…the allure of the Internet and social media. Nowadays, our computers, smart phones, gaming devices and tablets have become the virtual gateway and convenient one-stop wonderland for many of our personal, social, professional and recreational needs. Logging on can bring instant relief to feelings of loneliness, stress and boredom, supplying an unlimited source of entertainment and stimulation anytime, anyplace 24/7.
With every notification, tweet, comment or “like”, you get a little thrill in the form of a shot of dopamine, a feel-good brain chemical that is released during pleasurable experiences, such as falling in love or riding a roller coaster. That cocktail of brain chemistry can easily lead to a dangerous addiction, hazardous to your relationship as any substance abuse. Part stimulant, part emotional tranquilizer, it’s easy to get hooked.
GOING ONLINE IS LIKE GETTING HIGH ON A DRUG
You find yourself spending time more and more time online, triggering the click that will get that you that next “hit.” The time you spend online seems to fly. You tell yourself (and your family) that you’re just going to check your status, do some research, get some work done and hours later, you realize you’ve spent the entire evening online—AGAIN.
Meanwhile, you find yourself zoning out with your kids or spouse, thinking about the last thing you posted and whether anyone has read it. You can’t seem to tolerate boredom, and lately, your days feel more and more boring when you’re not online.
ARE YOU ADDICTED?
Take the Quiz and Find Out…
Answer one of three ways: Always Sometimes Never
1. How often do you check your e-mail, send a text, or make a post before doing something else that you really need to do?
2. How often do you choose the stimulation of the Internet to intimacy with your partner or spending quality time with your kids?
3. How often do you put aside other work, chores and responsibilities to spend more time online?
5. How often do you get angry or annoyed when a family member talks to you while you’re online?
6. How often do you feel anxious, unhappy, restless or moody when you are off-line, which disappears once you are back on-line?
7. How often do you turn to the Internet for soothing or distraction when you are upset, bored or lonely?
8. How often do you lose sleep or feel exhausted the next day because of late night log-ins or texting?
9. How often does your real life seem dull in comparison with how you feel when you are online?
10. How often do you stay online longer than you planned and keep telling yourself “just a few more minutes”?
11. How often have you promised to cut back on the time you spend online, texting, or emailing and failed?
12. How often do you minimize or deny the amount of time you spend online when asked by your partner, family or friends?
Tally up how many times you answered “always”, “sometimes” and “never.”
If you answered “never”, CONGRATULATIONS, you are NOT addicted to the Internet.
If you answered “always” to 2 or more OR “sometimes” to 4 or more of the above questions, it’s time to consider some Internet Rehab. Click HERE to read my recommendations to help you break your addiction and get your life back on track.
Editor’s note: I’m happy to have been asked by Nicole Cantanese @ Refinery 29.com to offer my opinion on social media. This article originally appeared on their site.
Ah, social media. You’ve got followers, friends, and even strangers liking what you did today. With every new notification, you get a little shot of dopamine (that’s the feel-good chemical that fires off in pleasure-seeking situations, as in jumping off a plane or, well, doing drugs). So, you want to keep pressing refresh to get another dose. And then, you realize that what’s happening in your real life isn’t nearly as exciting. “Social media—Twitter, Instagram, Facebook—can create a false sense of connection with people,” says Sheri Meyers, PsyD, a therapist in Los Angeles (and author of Chatting or Cheating) “And, it’s immediate and 24/7, so there isn’t as much of a need to reach out to those that are close to us.”
Eventually, real life pays the price — because when it’s not as satisfying as the cyber version, it can lead to feeling down about what you have going on (or don’t have going on). “The life we possess virtually can seem more exciting or interesting than what’s happening in real life and real time,” Meyers says. “Online, you’re constantly on the receiving end of a sense of approval, which feels really good. What isn’t healthy is when you turn more and more to your cyber friends for approval, satisfaction, and that dopamine hit. Then, you stop trying to connect and relate with the people closest to you.”
Remember when we mentioned the dopamine-narcotics connection? Turns out that you can actually get hooked on social media, too. “Internet addiction is real,” says Meyers. “The same brain chemicals that get activated from drugs or any pleasure-seeking behavior apply here, too.” When those happy chemicals plummet, you have to keep going back to the “drug” — i.e., picking up your iPhone to check the latest tweet — to get the boost again. And, it’s not doing any favors for your relationship, either: “Once you are spending time away from your partner and in social media, and you start getting your needs met there, then you are no longer seeking out that attention from your loved one,” she warns. “In the end, you will only feel lonelier.”
Social media aims to bring us closer, but too much of a good thing can be problematic. Rationally, we all know that comparing ourselves to others isn’t healthy, but with an endless stream of humblebrags and not-so-humble brags, it’s difficult not to do so. But, says Meyers, that’s a distorted view of reality, because people tend to broadcast the good stuff, not the bad. “When you begin to compare yourself with others, which is a natural human tendency, that creates a weak foundation to stand upon,” she says. “And when you think, ‘Look who liked my photo!’ or ‘Look how many friends or followers I have!’ you’re on shallow ground.” Eventually, you’ll possibly feel less-than, or you may develop a falsely boosted ego — neither of which are ideal.
Of course, social media isn’t all bad; constantly reaching for your iPhone does have its upsides. “In a way, it can be positive, since social media gives us a distraction from pain in our life,” says Meyers. “It could be a way to get our mind off of it, but you still need to cope with it.” And, if used to help others, a tweet can be a good thing indeed.
Beyond that, it’s important to set boundaries and rules. “Just like you are allowed a certain amount of chocolate, you can’t eat as much as you want,” says Meyers. “You need to feed your real life as much as your online social life.” So, maybe you put the iPad down while eating dinner, or take a weekend off from social media apps. It’s all part of shifting your focus. Instead of thinking ‘I’m so great! I have 20 new followers,’ be thankful for legitimate moments of happiness, not what’s found on your news feed. Get out into the real world, create a true memory without needing to broadcast it — and before you know it, you’ll be #lovingyourlife.
by Nicole Cantanese. Originally posted on Refinery 29
MORE ON THIS TOPIC: Here’s an interview I did with ABC on Internet Addiction
Facebook is a HUGE issue in relationships today. Every day I hear about people starting affairs or finding out about infidelity through Facebook.
Recently, I appeared on the “Steve Harvey” show, where I offered advice to a married couple that was dealing with the aftermath of the husband’s affair.
The husband had a sexual relationship with his mistress. His affair was discovered by his wife, who found out from looking at his Facebook page. Now he claims the affair is over.
But there’s only one problem: He’s still “friends” with her on Facebook.
Can this marriage be saved?
What should the wife do?
Find out by watching a clip from the show, where I give the couple my advice on the FIRST thing the husband needs to do in order to get their marriage back on track.
With the rampant use, ease and instant access that technology offers, meeting, getting intimate, cheating and staying connected to your lover has never been easier or more dangerous.
It’s dangerous because an innocent friendship on Facebook between two people who intend to chat, not cheat, can quickly evolve into MORE and engulf a person who never intended to stray in the first place.
In actuality, most INFIDELITY doesn’t occur because it’s planned but because people stop giving the relationship the vital attention it needs and start looking outside to get their connection needs met. They then find themselves in situations where their emotions completely overwhelm (and even surprise) them.
Please add your comments, suggestions or questions below.
This article was written by Dr. Sheri Meyers, America’s leading love and intimacy expert.
Do you suspect your partner is cheating?
Here are two more videos from backstage after the show that may help.
How to Confront Your Cheating Partner
Signs Your Partner May Be Cheating on You
Please add your thoughts, comments, suggestions or questions below.
MORE HELPFUL LINKS ON THIS TOPIC:
Want to know more? Click here.
Why Your Relationship Needs a Social Media PreNup
After Infidelity - Can a Marriage Be Saved?
Chatting or Cheating: When Does it Start?
Dr. Sheri on CBS's "The Couch"
Cheating on the Web
Why Powerful Men Cheat
The Difference Between Chatting and Cheating
5 Reasons Why Men Cheat
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