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  • Writer's pictureCarmel Farnan

Where does Social Media usage fit into our Mindfulness Practice?

Updated: Jan 31

Firstly, it's important not to demonise technology; after all you wouldn't be able to read this article if it wasn't for technology. Therefore it is imperative to distinguish between technology usage and it's overuse, where it becomes that, in fact, technology is using you, and not the other way around.

Overuse of technology drains us so much that there is little energy left to engage in normal life, let alone embrace a Mindfulness practice. As a Psychotherapist in clinical practice I increasingly see the negative effects of overuse of social media in modern relationships.

The Research: At this early stage of research into technology usage it appears that technology is addictive. This addiction occurs in a threefold process.

  1. The first is that a 'cue' happens which triggers the release of dopamine (the reward neurotransmitter). This cue is simply the sound of an incoming text, email alert or spotting that you have a new Facebook/IG/TikTok notification.

2. And so, the second stage of 'hooking' begins. You don't yet know who that contact is from or what it contains. The urgency you feel to check out that message is fuelled by the dopamine release, after all who doesn't feel good with a reward?

By their nature these social media messages are short and don't give us the full picture. So, you get involved in texting back to find out more, and so the dopamine cycle of reward continues.

3. The next thing that happens is that you become constantly involved in the distractions of these incoming 'ping' alerts. This is not only energy draining but also divides your attention. The brain now becomes like the computer that has too many tabs open. Ping by ping, notification by notification,  your very life-energy is being hijacked and drained away.

The Solution: a great thing to do is to turn off incoming alerts and only check messages and email periodically. Even better, why not try giving yourself a total technology detox for a few hours or perhaps even an entire day at weekends.

You will definitely notice a feeling of calm that you may have forgotten exists.

A final note is to use technology mindfully. Allocate a reasonable amount of time for engaging with your various social media accounts. You can then enjoy this time, without triggering the feelings of guilt come along with the overuse of technology.

Even better, engage in some mindfulness practices and you will quickly see how your wellbeing increases.

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