The fact that we are constantly connected has created a kind of dopamine addiction that causes the brain to crave more.
But it is possible to overcome the mobile dependency and create dopamine balance. Here are some easy steps.
Do you check Instagram just before bedtime? Do you pick up the phone as soon as you get a minute’s deadline and panic if you forgot the cellphone at home?
Then you can be dopamine dependent.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that, among other things, has the task of giving so-called reward feelings in particular expectations. This means that we constantly want to continue doing what gives us that feeling, for example posting photos on social media as it creates a hope that we will get likes.
Risk running in an endless loop
A Journalist and author who has written the book “Let’s talk about being seen IRL”, points out that the problem with dopamine is that it is very addictive and makes you want more instead of stopping and being satisfied.
The hunt for the release of dopamine in combination with our digital use means that we run the risk of running in an endless loop as there is never an end to social media. That’s why we can’t help but want to look at the phone, even if it didn’t make a fuss of you. That behavior makes us restless, self-centered and unconcentrated, we think, she says.
Oxytocin, on the other hand, which is a hormone that is released by friendly touch, for example when we meet in reality, IRL, and greet each other, makes us feel calm, safe and satisfied.
Because it’s important to not only let the dopamine control but also the oxytocin, says the journalist.
Here are seven tips from the book on how to reach dopamine balance.
1. Set up obstacles. Minimize things that move your attention to the mobile phone. Turn off push notifications, notifications and liking reports. Put the phone on silent and change the screen to black and white color scale to make it less attractive to use. It may also be worth turning off the “tiles”, ie the small red circles with numbers that appear on the app symbols when you receive a note. That way you won’t be stressed over them when you enter the home screen.
2. Check by yourself. Write down how many times a day you pay attention to your phone. If the result surprises you with a figure that was more than you had expected, compete with yourself to try to reduce the number of screen views day by day. And don’t forget to reward yourself when you succeed!
3. Motivate your mobile usage. Every time you feel a need to check the phone, question your motive as to why you want to go in there. Maybe you can see a pattern for when you feel the need most strongly?
4. Change the habit pattern. Breaking habits is not the easiest, but very valuable if you easily end up in a substance-less dopamine addiction. For example, do you always check social media streams after turning off the alarm clock in the morning, or do you surf around for a while when you would really just set the alarm clock in the evening? Then it might be worth investing in an analog clock radio and a new book. It works much better as an alarm clock and sleep aid. Also, don’t forget to use your wrist watch if you have one. You do not have to look at the clock on your mobile phone and thus reduce the temptation to get stuck in it.
5. Schedule your leisure screen time. Just as many parents earmark a certain amount of screen time for their children, we adults can follow the same concept. Determine 2–3 times a day when you allow yourself to surf for a certain amount of time. That way, your screen time can be more qualitative. Or vice versa: scheduling does not “disturb” the mobile phone for certain hours of the day. Some mobile phones have features for scheduling screen-free time. Then selected apps cannot be used.
6. Introduce mobile-free zones. Which rooms do you tend to pick up the phone the most in? The bedroom and kitchen are usually classics. Leave the cell phone in a box before entering the kitchen and park it outside the bedroom when it is bedtime. Only the knowledge that the cell phone is present in the bedroom has been shown to be able to cause stress and secrete cortisol and adrenaline. In addition, some sleep researchers believe that you are more enlightened by the light of the screen.Talk about it. In this connected time, we are all more or less dependent on the phone. In other words, it is nothing unusual. Talking to someone about how it affects you not only helps you feel that you are not alone, it also makes you put words to something that you want to change. Only it’s a start. If the search for dopamine kicks you to such an extent that you have difficulty sleeping or concentration, you should seek professional help.