You’re listening to The Work Of Becoming podcast! My name is Dr. Karin Nordin. I am your host as well as a behavior change expert and self-proclaimed tornado girl. I spent years of my life struggling to change before I finally got my PhD and learned the psychological tools that I needed to actually make those changes happen. Now, I’m bringing you five-minute sneak peeks of how I’m applying the real science of self-help to my life. Let’s get started!
All right, y’all! Today, we are going to talk about the first change that I made in order to cultivate a routine that was more focused on resilience and stress management, and that was that I went on a 30-day social media detox. I want to talk a little bit about a pattern that I often see.
I often see people who want to change their behavior. They want to add a habit. They want to change their routine. They want to start working out. They want to go to bed earlier. They want to make changes, but yet, when they go to make those changes, they don’t deprioritize anything else. And so, as a result, they’re adding to their demands, but they’re not adding to their support. They’re not freeing up any of their resources. They’re not freeing up time. They’re not freeing up mental effort. They’re not freeing up energy. They’re not freeing up finances. No resources are being increased that can actually help them with their increased demand. And so, then they’re like, “Oh, I can’t do it. I can’t stick to changes.” Yeah, bro. You didn’t give yourself any resources. It’s like going to the store and being like, “Ugh, I didn’t get any groceries. Why? Because I didn’t bring any money. Oh, okay.”
I had seen that pattern in clients over and over again, and so, I wanted to catch myself in that pattern before it started because my instinct was like, “Oh, I can keep doing what I’m doing and just make all these changes.” And I was like, “No, no, no.” If I want to truly go all in on overhauling my routine and changing my life, then I need to put more things on the not-doing list, and the very first thing that I thought of that could go onto the not-doing list was social media.
Here’s the thing. We know that social media activates reward pathways in our brain. I am very specifically not going to use the phrase “dopamine hit” here because the phrase “dopamine hit” is psychologically inaccurate. No one who is actually an expert on neuroscience, you’re never gonna hear them use the words dopamine hit. And so, please, please be cautious of all of the rhetoric out there, of all of the information out there right now about dopamine and what creates dopamine and what deprives dopamine and low dopamine and high dopamine. As someone who understands neuroscience, even on a very basic level compared to other PhDs, the amount of bullshit I have heard in the last six months out there about dopamine and how it works is astronomical. It is the latest skinny tea. It is the skinny tea of the neuroscience world. So, please, please, please be careful who you are listening to when it comes to what you’re hearing about dopamine.
Anyway, that was a rant. Regardless, dopamine, as well as other things, are involved in our reward circuits in our brain, and social media activates those reward circuits, which means we can become very attached to it, we can become very dependent on it.
I had reached a point where I was waking up in the morning and opening Instagram before I was even consciously aware of what I was doing. I would get in the car, and before I started driving, I would open the app and look at it. As soon as I parked, I would open the app and look at it again, and I also realized that the more I looked at Instagram, the more I got lost in my online world, which is full of things I love — I love my Instagram community. I love interacting with y’all, but that was a stressor. The more involved I was with that, the less present I was in my life.
And so, normally, I would advocate for a moderation approach. Nine times out of ten I’m not going to recommend anyone completely cut something out of their life. However, I was also having this belief — and this is more for my entrepreneurs out there — I had this belief that if I wasn’t on social media, my business would crash, and I was almost over-using social media as opposed to email marketing, other forms of communication. And so, I knew the way to challenge that “limiting belief” that my business would crash if I wasn’t on social media every day — I knew that the way to challenge that most effectively was to go completely cold turkey and be off social media.
I also knew that if I completely removed that from my life, I would likely be forced to come face to face with my own thoughts, because guess what, when you sit on the couch and you start scrolling social media, you are likely ignoring your mental monologue. And the reason why you’re uncomfortable (and why I was uncomfortable at the beginning sitting there bored on the couch) not scrolling through social media is because we are uncomfortable to be in silence with ourselves. It is uncomfortable for us to truly listen to ourselves think.
So, to summarize, I quit social media for 30 days as a way to, number one, free up energy and attention resources that I would need to make the behavior change that I’m gonna talk about in later episodes; two, to challenge a limiting belief that I had about my business; and three, because I knew that giving up social media was going to force me to be very mindful and very present throughout this experience.
I will do an episode later on, kind of talking through some of the benefits that I experienced. I’m not gonna talk about that too much because I cover that inside of Change Academy. But we’re gonna keep going with this series, so for the next couple episodes, I will talk about what I did with the energy and the mindfulness and the space that I created by giving up social media. So, I hope to see you in the next episode!
PS: if you are on a journey to become a better you, and you want to learn the tools and techniques that will actually help change your life, make sure you check out my Change Academy Membership. Each month, we do a 1.5-hour workshop on a different psychological topic, but we also provide resources like journal prompts, worksheets, and trackers. We host community events and more. If you’re struggling to close the gap between knowing what to do and actually doing it, this membership was built for you. Go to www.bodybrainalliance.com/change-academy to learn more!