How My Online Habits Affect My Offline Well-Being

I’ll always be on board to try new ways to break bad habits

Welcome to the Internet. On your left, you’ll find anonymous accounts throwing shade about people they’ve likely never met. On your right, you’ll see people aggressively offering their opinion based on research that merely includes personal experience. In front of you is a political thread that will ruin your day 1000% of the time. Behind you is an automated DM powered by CrowdFire and asking you to go and like someone’s Facebook page. And way back in the corner there, do you see that? It’s a teeny tiny door with a small lock. That special door leads to a 5 by 5 room where a small percentage of people remain decent, understanding and well, happy.

confused john travolta GIF

Unfortunately, I’ve lived in every part of this Internet and I’ve got to say that not one of those areas is for me. No, not even the place that leads to a small percentage of happy people. Mostly because those happy people tend to ignore those larger areas that are unavoidable. I love me a good puppy photo and Tasty recipe, but I also need to know what’s going on with the government and our economy.

The Internet is scary. It’s obviously got a lot of great elements to it. I mean, the fact that I’m writing this blog post is pretty great and the fact that I can communicate with strangers who turn to best friends is even greater. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a toll on my mood. As I write this blog post, I’m angry. I wish I weren’t. But today just brought me a ton of impatience and stress.

If it wasn’t the school shooting in Parkland, FL covering my news feeds, it was the passive-aggressive emails I received from an ad agency. If it wasn’t the inability to get in contact with someone who should be readily available, it was the fact that I couldn’t find a statistic I needed to finish off an article. It was everything. I use the Internet for everything.

When you finally realize how much control the Internet has on your life, you’ll start to question everything.

Every single night, I wake up at 3:00 AM like clockwork. My body decides that this is our new waking hour, and it has become so routine that I now wake up fully functional. I don’t even need time to adjust my eyes to the darkness or shake off the grogginess. I know, how jealous are you right now? *wipes sarcasm from keyboard*

For the first 15 to 20 minutes I’ll try to convince myself to fall back asleep. I attempt my usual visualization tactics and belly breathing, but it’s almost always to no avail. Following that, the next 10 minutes will be spent fighting an anxiety attack that makes my arms feel like they’re no longer attached to my body and as though they’re going to fist-pump like Pauly D from Jersey Shore. That’s when I start to panic. I grab my phone, start scrolling social media to distract myself, and hang out online for anywhere from one to three hours before I can’t even keep my eyes open anymore. In other words, I never actually deal with my anxiety because why would I when I have the Internet?

At first, I wasn’t even aware that I was running this pattern. I mean, I obviously knew I was waking up at 3:00 AM every night because I, in turn, felt like a zombie every morning. But I didn’t realize that the way I was trying to combat this issue was by immediately grabbing my phone.

61% of people say feel as though they’re addicted to being online, and the other 39% are probably lying (she says, in hopes that she’s not the only one).

Although I spend about 80% of my days on the Internet, I would never say that I felt it was an addiction. This is because I know that I can turn my laptop off, go travelling and leave my phone behind for significant amounts of time. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not always thinking about what I might be missing.

Apparently, once you reach the age of 25, your addiction will grow steadily, but won’t begin to spike again until you reach the age of 65. I’d have to say that this statistic may be true of most of my friends. However, for someone like me, who works remotely and is in an industry that revolves around the world of the Internet, it’s probably spiking as regularly as my favourite character from The Land Before Time.

oldfilmsflicker eating sleeping spike dinosaurs GIF

I’ve recently started to do more research into why I can’t sleep — yes, using the Internet. And why it has started to affect both my mood and my well-being. There are quite a few reasons:

  • I sometimes work from my bed and my mind now sees this as a place of business and productivity rather than a place of rest and relaxation.

  • I’ve convinced myself that it is a useful form of distraction that helps my mood by relying on my phone anytime I feel anxious

  • I live far away from my friends and family so I feel that following them online will make up for the lack of communication

  • The feeling that I always have something to do or someone to chat with makes me feel more productive even though I’m likely wasting time

Of course, I could probably write a list of about 100 ways the Internet has affected my lifestyle, but what I really need to do is figure out the 100 ways I can impede this behaviour. When I did the classic Google search for ways I can combat my bad habits, the only thing that came up was information on how to take a social media cleanse. Well, guess friggin what?

Social media cleanses aren’t for everyone.

I’d love to take a social media cleanse and stay offline for awhile, but this option is not realistic for me in any way shape or form. It might be hard to work, blog and educate myself if I have to shut it all off. Instead, I’d prefer to break these bad habits and create a healthy relationship with the Internet so that I can continue to be successful in all of my online endeavours. Is that really so much to ask?

Seeing as there aren’t too many online resources that help regulate your social media obsession or keep your Internet usage in check, I took the liberty of creating my own list of ways that I plan to attempt to take back control of my mood from the crazy world of hashtags and email campaigns. The best part? I even made it all pretty so that I’d remember to look at it. Feel free to print yourself a copy and put it on your nightstand or bathroom mirror like I did!

infographic-break-from-internet

infographic-break-from-internet

The Internet doesn’t have to be an addiction for you to need a break.

I know it might seem completely crazy to have to remind yourself to put your phone down or to log out of your apps every night. However, it’s no crazier than other addictions, such as smoking. Even if you only spend a couple hours a day online, you may still feel you need a break from the Internet. It isn’t easy for anyone to step back from their work, friendships and the news — especially when it’s right at your fingertips.

If it’s helping me to better my personal well-being, daily mood and mental health, I’ll always be on board to try new ways to break bad habits.

Would you ever consider trying out some new tactics to step back from the online world? Let me know in the comments!