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Last Updated on January 17, 2018

5 Psychological Reasons You Are Addicted to Facebook and 5 Ways to Break the Habit

5 Psychological Reasons You Are Addicted to Facebook and 5 Ways to Break the Habit

Hi. My name is Daniel and I am a recovering Facebook addict. Whew, it felt good to admit that out in the open. With that confession out of the way, I’d like to help you understand why you are addicted to Facebook. I’ll even provide some easy steps that you can take today to break the habit and be more productive.

The first step to breaking any bad habit is to understand the psychological triggers that made you pick up the habit in the first place. Below are five common ones that I know very well.

1. Facebook scrolling is a symptom of procrastination.

Facebook capitalizes on your tendency to procrastinate by incorporating a news feed with an infinite scroll. No matter how far down you go, there will always be more memes and status updates to keep you distracted from whatever you should be doing. Thus, it might be helpful to change your perception of Facebook. Instead of looking at it like a place to be social or kill time, frame Facebook as the enemy of your productivity and purpose. Doesn’t sound as tempting now, huh?

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2. Facebook over-sharing is a symptom of loneliness or indecision.

Facebook resembles a boring reality TV show that is on full display during every hour of the day. Do you really need to tell everybody what you ate for lunch? I doubt it. You don’t share such trivial details to add value to people’s lives. You’re doing it, because you’re lonely and desperate for approval. Seeking opinions from your friends could be a sign of indecision or low self-confidence. If you get a bad suggestion, then you can conveniently blame somebody else, thus protecting your ego.

3. Facebook creeping is a symptom of misplaced affection or unhealthy self-comparisons.

Facebook makes it easy to be a creeper. There are two primary causes of creeping and neither of them are pretty. If you’re creeping the profile of your ex, then you’re probably living in the past. Seek professional help if you are struggling to let go. If you’re browsing the profile of a crush, then you’d be better off actively pursuing them. Send them a thoughtful message to get a conversation started. If that goes well, ask them out on a date. Creeping could also be a form of self-inflicted misery. It’s already hard to resist the human urge to compare ourselves to other people. Facebook makes this convenient to do.

4. Obsessive checking of Facebook notifications is a symptom of impatience or people-pleasing.

Facebook takes advantage of your desire for instant gratification. Your brain receives a dopamine hit every time you see that red notification light up. Dopamine is a chemical in your brain that causes you to seek pleasure from things like food, sex, and drugs. Pleasure sounds nice in theory, but dopamine is responsible for self-destructive behavior. Thus, becoming a slave to your notifications can destroy your self-control in a hurry. If that wasn’t bad enough, the human desire to be liked and accepted is at play, too. Every time you get a “Like”, your brain decides that means somebody likes you. Keep this up and you’ll turn into an addict desperate for another “hit.”

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5. Obsessive refreshing of your Facebook feed is a symptom of a fear of missing out (a.k.a. FOMO).

Facebook wrecks your focus by preying on your fear of missing out. You check your feed during a date, because you don’t want to miss any interesting updates. You check your messages while you drive, because a friend might have something exciting to share. Never mind that you might turn off your date or wreck your car and die. The possibilities are endless, so it’s totally worth it. That was sarcasm if you didn’t notice. I’m being dramatic to demonstrate how reckless these behaviors are.

If you’re ready to break your addiction to Facebook, follow these five steps.

1. Admit you have an addiction.

You can’t fix a problem if you deny it exists. Don’t beat yourself up, but do try and be honest enough to admit you’re a Facebook addict. If it makes you feel any better, I’m a recovering addict myself. There is no reason to be ashamed. Telling a trusted friend might help you stay accountable, especially if they share your goal.

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2. Be mindful of the triggers that provoke the habit.

Every psychological trigger I discussed here won’t necessarily be relevant to you. That’s okay. Focus on the ones that are. If you’re not sure, here’s a reflection exercise that might be helpful. It will reveal why you’re having such a hard time breaking the habit. Record the following details in a diary or journal until you identify some common trends:

  • What did I do? (scrolling, over-sharing, creeping, notification checking, or feed refreshing)
  • When did I do it? (down-time at work, as soon as you woke up, right before bed, on a date, etc.)
  • What happened right before? (if a stressful or upsetting event occurred, that could be significant)
  • How did this make me feel? (use a descriptive adjective to describe your mood before and after the incident)

3. Consciously acknowledge the habit for what it is.

This step will break Facebook’s hold on you as long as you can be consistent. Every time you feel the urge to update your status or check your feed, recognize that impulse for what it is (a habitual behavior — NOT a conscious decision). This is especially powerful when you complete step #2, because you’ll be able to make a mental note of the specific psychological trigger at play.

4. Practice self-compassion during the process, no matter how frustrated you might get.

Facebook is an epic time-suck, but that doesn’t mean you should criticize yourself every time you log-on to your feed. Psychologists consider procrastination a misplaced coping mechanism. Beating yourself up will make you feel bad about yourself, which will ironically cause you to be even more tempted. Self-loathing can only lead to failure. You might end up deciding it’s hopeless, because you are “too lazy.”  If you want to break your addiction for good, then you need to be self-compassionate.

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5. Replace the habit with a positive alternative that you can track or measure in some way.

It’s a lot easier to eliminate a bad habit when you decide on a good habit that you would like to replace it with. I applied this idea by choosing to pick up a book every time I was tempted to check my feed. The result blew my mind. I read over a hundred pages in the first day! Trust me when I say those “few minutes of down-time” can add up to an obscene amount of waste. Having a specific metric to track is important. If you want to stay encouraged, you need to have compelling evidence that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

This is going to sound ridiculous given the subject of the article, but…

Would you please pass this along to your friends on Facebook? I don’t mean to demonize the website entirely. It’s a great place to stay in touch with the people we care about. Even so, it’s time to break our addictions so we can achieve our purpose and enjoy the company of the people right in front of us.

Featured photo credit: Girl Using Her iPhone Outside/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Daniel Wallen

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

Where Work Stress Comes From

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

  • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
  • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
  • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
  • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
  • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
  • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
  • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

    If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

    In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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    I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

    How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

    1. Set aside some time for planning

    If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

    For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

    The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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    For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

    By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

    These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

    3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

    How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

      Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

      Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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      • To remove yourself from the company
      • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
      • To accept that your salary is okay for you

      You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

      If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

      By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

      Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

      4. Create positive relationships at work

      One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

      Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

      Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

      5. Take time out for yourself

      Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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      Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

      If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

      6. Take mindful action towards your health

      The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

      • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
      • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
      • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
      • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

      Final Thoughts

      Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

      Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

      Beat stress with the right mindset!

      Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

      Reference

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