I am not a drug addict or a smoker but I think I am becoming Internet addict and looks like it’s even more dangerous as its changing the way my brain works…Do you feel the same?

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Today in this post I would like to draw your attention to the most common and increasing problem in the society. I hope you think for some time and reflect back the way we are living today and make sure you are not falling into this trap of technology that we ourselves have woven around us today. We can also discuss more on this if you would like. I am trying to recover from this initial phase of internet addiction that I have recently realised and will be more than happy to share more insight into this if needed.

Sign of Internet Addiction: (reference: http://www.netaddiction.com/)

  • Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?
  • Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?
  • Have you repeatedly made unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop Internet use?
  • Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?
  • Do you stay online longer than originally intended?
  • Have you jeopardized or risked the loss of significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?
  • Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?
  • Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, and depression)?

Other Symptoms Include:

• Failed attempts to control behaviour
• Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and Internet activities
• Neglecting friends and family
• Neglecting sleep to stay online
• Being dishonest with others
• Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of online behaviour
• Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
• Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

The categories of internet addiction includes: (reference: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Internet_addiction)

  • Sex – the person uses the Internet to look at, download or swap pornography or to engage in casual cybersex with other users. This results in neglect of their real-world sex life with their partner or spouse.
  • Relationships – the person uses chat rooms to form online relationships (‘online dating’) at the expense of spending time with real-life family and friends. This could include having online affairs (‘cyber adultery’).
  • Games – this can include spending excessive amounts of time playing games, gambling, shopping or trading. This can lead to severe financial troubles.
  • Information – the user obsessively searches for and collects information.
  • Social networking addiction – includes the desire to constantly monitor social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This includes constantly updating profile posts and checking messages to inform friends of what you are doing at the present moment.

Cause: Now as per the various researches there can be many things that can actually cause this addiction. Some of the reasons can be as follows:

  • Personality issues – the user may have personality issues that make them likely to become dependent on a range of things – such as cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, other drugs or the Internet – given the right circumstances.
  • Shyness – people who are shy in real-life situations may be drawn to the anonymity of the Internet and believe they can be their ‘true selves’ when online.
  • Biochemical responses – the person’s brain responds to the online rewards with ‘feel good’ chemicals and this biochemical ‘high’ encourages dependence.
  • Escapism – the Internet is so absorbing that the user can forget about their problems or escape negative emotions while online. Because it makes them feel better, it encourages them to turn to the Internet more and more for relief.
  • Instant gratification – search engines help users find what they want quickly – for example information, gambling opportunities or pornography. This instant gratification encourages them to stay online.

Our brain like our other body parts is always changing the way it works with changes in our activities. Our dependency on technology is reshaping our personality and wiring of our brain. Our brain is always adjusting to new things in life and how we are looking at the information in our daily life. “The deeper a technology is woven into the patterns of everyday life, the less choice we have about whether and how we use that technology,” Mr. Carr wrote in a recent blog post on the topic.

In today society students feel lonelier if they haven’t got their smart phone with them even when they are constantly surrounded by thousands of other fellow students. This seems to become big issues with the ability to communicate face to face and causing anxiety in people. We need to look into it and I would say that we bloggers spend a lot of time writing which is a very effective tool to focus on one topic and helps reduce internet addiction in case we are able to write without feeling the need to check our emails or browsing the internet every few minutes. Check out some self-help on the same.

Self-Help: In this situation you might want to use some self-help

  • Take note of your symptoms – for example, keep track of your behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
  • Think about why you use the Internet so much. What makes you go online? Is there a real problem you’re not facing up to?
  • Brainstorm (think about) other ways to cope with your problem that don’t involve the Internet. Choose some that will work and put them into practice.
  • Use relaxation methods like deep breathing or meditation to manage anxiety symptoms.
  • Rediscover the neglected areas of your life – for example, socialise with friends, make love to your partner, take your children to the beach, get out and be active.
  • Seek professional help if necessary.

Happiness Connection – Part 1

The true purpose of our life is to be happy. Now does it means that I should go out there and do whatever makes me happy even if that means drinking alcohol, smoking, eating fast food or harming some one. No, not at all. And there comes the concept of ‘connection of happiness’. We associate happiness with a lot of things and many times they are not right. For example eating sweets to make ourselves happy when we are sad or drinking alcohol to get over some one. These are the associations that we train our brain with for years of practice. 

Stop right there and list all such habits that deep inside you know are not good for you. This will not stop you from doing it but awareness is the first step. Until unless we accept that any habit is not good for us, we are not going to leave it. So it is the choice that we need to make first to know what are the things that we are doing are not good for us. Its like doing the diagnosis of a disease, only then it can be cured. 

Step 2 is to decide that you want to change the connection of happiness from wrong habits to healthy and right habits. Also you are the one who is supposed to define right or wrong as for some one it can be for a run every time they get sad and for another it might be meeting a friend and talk about it. Its also a matter of convenience and available options. So it is important to give your self some options before strictly adhering to the new habits. Most of the times we do not stick to the new habits because we assume there is only one choice and if we can’t stick to it then we are a failure and we get even more sad and end up returning back to the old habits to be happy. To get out of this loop we need to give ourselves rating from 10 to 1 and 1 means that we at least tried and this way we never are a failure and its just a matter of getting more or less points. Remember that while deciding to change the connection of happiness from the bad habits to good habits we are actually choosing a path and once we choose a path then we are no longer on the old way. I would suggest start visualizing this and then you would feel it is so easy to follow. 

Step 3 is practicing the new habits consciously. Any habit takes time to form therefore replacing a habit also takes a cycle. Our brain is very powerful but its like like wild horse that is jumping around all the time and its hard to train it. We need to understand that its our asset that we need to take care of and our baby that we need to nurture as well. Do not be harsh on yourself and have patience in teaching your brain the right things. Take time and be patient, the more gentle you would be the more calm the brain will become. The more strict you will treat it, the more wilder it will start behaving. Practice every day in the morning or what ever time suits you to calm down and tell your brain the right things. Tell stories to yourself just like we used to do in our childhood (reading loud) and believe me it works and it works very well. 

I will share more insight into this as we move forward. I am also just practicing these things as you are reading this. So there is a lot to come. Be happy with the right connection!