Today, on the International Internet Day, we celebrate the power of digital communication and how it connects us with the rest of the world. However, let us also become cognizant about some of the best practices to ensure that we remain in control of the technology rather than technology overpowering us. Renowned psychologist, Neha Somani shares her insights on effective ways to practice a “Digital Detoxification”

Dear Neha,
I am 33 year old mom to a 9 month old baby. Although I am not working and do not require to check on my phone call or e-mails all the time, I realize I am always on my phone. I have begun to feel extremely guilty for that. Even when he is awake, I use my mobile to read random articles that pop up on my feed, check whatsapp and forward messages on my family and friends groups. I frequently log on to Facebook and Instagram. I have this weird feeling that if I don’t stay abreast with what’s going on around me… politically, technologically or socially I will be totally cut off from the rest of the world. I was working initially and now I am a Stay-at-home-Mom. I don’t want to turn into a typical housewife. Please suggest a way out. Sometimes I am not able to focus on my little child who is clinging on to me.
Yours sincerely,
A Hopeless Mobile Addict.

A few days back, someone wrote an email to me seeking help for her mobile addiction. Being a Mother and a occasionally-working and mostly-stay-at-home-mom myself, I could totally relate to the woman writing this to me and somewhere deep down the line In too hold myself guilty for sneaking into my phone every now and then, at the pretext of checking emails or whatsapps from clients. Well, I am Guilty as charged. Are you too?

Well, Social Media is a blessing. It connects us to our loved ones across continents. It helps us keep a tab on what’s happening in each other other’s lives, it helps us maintain and re-kindle friendships and also meet some amazing people online. It opens doorways of opportunities to reach out and make your presence felt in the professional world.  
No wonder, we find ourselves scrolling through our Facebook feed while watching TV, checking Instagram and Twitter while answering nature’s call. We are glued to Netflix and Amazon Prime late into night and end up complaining that we have not rested well. 

FOMO is the new age disorder

An interesting study was conducted in 2016 study in Computers in Human Behavior, titled "Fear of Missing out (FOMO). 308 university students, 165 men and 143 women answered a questionnaire that assessed their mental health, their cell phone and Internet usage even enlisted the reasons they used them.

People who scored higher on “fear of missing out” were more likely to overuse their phones. And those who overused their phones were more likely to score higher on the depression and anxiety. According to the study, excessive use of the smartphone use is likely to interfere with other pleasurable activities and cause disruption in social activities and subsequently giving rise to depression.
A social media fixation can make you lose interest in all other activities. It makes one go through a plethora of deep driving emotions. Symptoms include feeling irritable if you have to spend your time away from your phone, feeling anxious if you are unable to send or receive messages, feeling restless or fidgety until you get likes and comments on your profile picture. 

Digital Detoxification and Social Media Fasting:

A (diet/food) Detox is the latest prescription doled out by Nutritionists, Doctors, Wellness Coaches and Lifestyle Gurus to maintain optimal health. In fact, fasting for a certain number of hours too is cited as an elixir to living a healthy life. Why not try a Social Media fast too. Here’s how you can schedule a periodic social media fast into daily grind.
1. Less Screen, More Sunscreen:
Apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram keep our heads buried into them for hours together. Most of the times we are scrolling and flicking through them mindlessly. Well, you don’t have to jump out to reach your phone at every notification you get. It isn’t a matter of life and death. Unless, of course you are a life-saving surgeon who’s missing out on a message would lead to someone’s death.  
Instead of waking up and spending half an hour on the phone, you can squeeze in time to exercise or take a brisk walk. Go for a jog, a swim, play badminton with a friend. If mornings are hectic, plug off from Social Media apps in the evening and indulge in outdoor activities you would miss doing otherwise.
2. Be a one task person:
Watch that documentary you saved on your laptop. Catch up with the latest popular series or a movie on Netflix. Do it. You work too hard all day to not deserve it. But keep your phone away. Someone and his team took a lot of effort to create the series. Indulge all your senses in it. Moving in one direction is a lot more relaxing than being pulled in too many.
3. Declutter your head:
A lot of times you put a religious or political opinion on your wall and end up getting attacked and corned by friends and even strangers. It is not necessary that our social circles are populated only with those who agree with us or mirror our views. One negative incident is enough to put you off for an entire day or even an entire week. You don’t need to lose valuable time and energy giving them headspace.
4. Make it time bound:
One very interesting concept that I recently found online was a term called as ‘Social Media Fasting’. It is a time bound fast. The run time is 8 p.m to 8 pm. Or you can make it 7 or 9 to suit your schedules and needs. You can definitely use Whatsapp but you simply cannot log on to any Social Media Handle. You will be surprised at how much you can get done or end up catching on with impending tasks on your to do list.

We hope you give priority to your mental health over mind-bogging Apps. All the best.

About the writer:
Neha Somani is a Personal Growth Catalyst. She is  Psychologist, Counselor, Trainer and a Writer. She is a mental health warrior and is helping people out to live more emotionally efficient lives.