The past couple days I’ve been feeling so up and down emotionally. Random bouts of depression and the urge to cry come out of nowhere. I’ve been staying up till 3 or 4 am and I can’t seem to get out of bed. I feel no ambition and my desire to do ANYTHING has plummeted.
I keep going back for more coffee. Scrolling through Facebook… Like. Like. Heh. Scroll. Scroll. Like. Ting! A new notification!
Wait, 15 minutes have passed?
Let’s Fix This Now!
How about a can of Mountain Dew? Let me make a run to Dunkin Donuts for another iced coffee. Am I really craving that can of Monster Energy drink that my brother is drinking?
This sucks. I can’t seem to maintain attention on anything for consistent periods of time. The idea of actually doing something creative feels boring. Nothing is inspiring me. I am lonely. I crave attention and connection. Even porn sucks.
I’ve reached the end of the Internet. I’m bored. I’m grumpy.
Is this just a case of seasonal affective disorder? Am I really depressed or is this just a mood swing? I can’t just point the finger at any ONE thing that’s causing my moods. But I have a hunch that I know what is.
I believe the reason I’m in this cycle of stimulation is that I’m low on dopamine and other natural feel good chemicals. I’ve become so used to stimulating myself through artificial and synthetic means that my body isn’t doing this on its own. I spend 75% of my day on my computer or phone (that’s being generous). I’ve developed a tolerance and like any addict, I need more and more to feel normal. I’ve quit coffee before and have started up again many times. I’ve even done a digital detox and that has worked wonders. Is it time for another detox?
I sometimes forget I live on a real, living, and breathing planet. But I see life through the lens of the digital age and smartphone screens. We all know Facebook is a total buzz-kill. Yet we keep coming back for more.
I typically wake up and drink coffee first thing. Going back for more when I’d get drowsy during the day. Overstimulating myself through the scientifically-engineered-to-be-addicting social media sites Internet porn. I got into a habit of watching Netflix on one monitor and checking “things” on the other. The movie itself is often not enough to keep my attention these days. I’m so distracted! I keep a tab open for new website visitors, check my email for the 17th time, swipe left and right on Tinder, and send hopeful but sure-to-be-ignored messages to women on OkCupid.
Each of those things gives me a little rush of feel-good juice. Dopamine or Oxytocin or some shit. Sure I would feel smarter or more enlightened after watching that YouTube video on “Bad Beard Habits” or yet another article on how to “Make 2016 the best year ever,” but inevitably I’d end up feeling depleted, drained, and depressed.
I cleared all my notifications. I hit inbox zero. There was nothing left to check. Now what? Go outside? Fap? Nap? Work?
Boring! How sad.
I Was Numbing Out
Whenever I’d feel bored or slightly sad, I’d reach for the fix. Pavlov’s dog. But the truth was that I was covering up some REAL emotions that are trying to come through. There ARE some stored emotional wounds bubbling up to my awareness in the NOW. These feelings are signals for my attention and self-love. Yet I was ignoring them and trying to stay productive and happy through outside means. I wanted to get work done and be happy, not sit there and face my uncomfortable feelings. I mean, I could just get a Tinder date or read another self-help blog post to feel better.
I know I want to go within and love myself through these sometimes lonely emotions. I think I’m over my divorce or I’m fine being single, but the truth is I get lonely and feel depressed for no reason. Or is it? The only way to find out is to actually FEEL those emotions and stop trying to get rid of them through artificial or digital means.
Time for a reboot.
My Emotional Reboot Plan
The benefits of rebooting your brain have been well documented by the anti-porn community. No matter your moral or ethical stance on porn, the science of how it can overstimulate you is real. But the case can be made for all other digital stimulation. I would reckon Facebook is more addicting than just about anything.
So I’m quitting Facebook. For as long as I can muster it.
The end goal is to be able feel and enjoy the little things in life again. To FEEL GOOD without needing constant stimulation. To be able to produce those feel good chemicals organically and with natural activities. To enjoy genuine connection with other people and nature. This is how we are meant to be.
I’m thinking 1 or 2 weeks. If I feel like I’ve come to a good place, I’ll consciously choose to add back in any of those habits and see what happens. If I can keep it up for longer, cool. But I’m not making it too hard on myself.
Reboot Part 1: Detoxify Myself
I’m choosing to cut out (or severely cut back on) the following forms of habit forming stimulation. These activities tend to cause dependency and it feeds the cycle of seeking stimulation, feeling temporarily relieved, and then empty and hungry again. These are often a poor substitute for real connection and love.
- Deactivate Facebook (the biggest culprit)
- Cut back on checking Twitter and Instagram
- Uninstall Reddit and Tinder from my phone
- Give up heavy caffeine (coffee, mountain dew)
- Cut back on Fast Food as a quick fix
- Avoid watching porn, especially if I’m just bored
- Check email once a day, not all the time
- Cut back on habitual Netflix time
Reboot Part 2: Introduce Organic Feel-Good Activities
The following are habits give me some feel-good chemicals and boost my mood but are a lot healthier and natural. They almost all involve being away from a computer screen and spending time with yourself, loved ones, or nature. You know, things with a SOUL.
- Walking in nature
- Working out at the gym
- Yoga or Stretching
- Playing volleyball or team sport
- Writing a blog post or recording a podcast
- Talking to my friends or family
- Reading physical books
- Conscious masturbation without porn
- Taking naps if I’m tired
- Tidying up around the house
- Eating more vegetables and fruits
- Playing guitar or piano
- Singing to myself
- Taking a shower
- Exploring a new city
This is going to suck at first, I know.
I’m going to feel like SHIT when I go through withdrawal. I’m going want to die. I’m going to feel bored out of my fucking mind. I’m going to want to find SOMETHING quick and easy to avoid feeling these uncomfortable feelings.
But these painful feelings will pass.
Afterward I will expect to feel a lightness and sense of aliveness that has been missing. I’ll come to find joy in little things. I’ll have a lot more patience for sitting still and meditating or writing in my journal. My capacity for internal self-reflection will increase. I’ll remember what my true self feels like. My genuine desires will bubble to the surface. I’ll feel inspiration and love. I’ll feel grounded and connected to Mother Earth. I’ll feel whole and strong and capable. I’ll be more present in my interactions with friends and family.
All good things! Wish me luck.