You Need to Diet (Digital Detox)

Look in the mirror and maybe you don’t think you need a diet but trust me you do.

How could I possibly know this?

Because you look like me….face down and texting/Facebooking/Tweeting/Instagraming/Snapchatting away on your smart phone or tablet.

Recently, I had slight nervous breakdown/panic attack/stress event. Nothing major. No meds. No 5150 holds. I was just feeling very overwhelmed and stressed out. So I decided to shut down for the day. I zoned out and watched bad TV with my husband and dog. The next day I felt refreshed and calm.

So then I started to analyze why I wasn’t stressed out after basically wasting an entire day (if you read my blog you know I tend to over analyze). I came to the conclusion that my brain needed a re-boot.

Unlike others in the space (such as Baratunde Thurston from Fast Company) I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to completely cut myself off from the internet. Instead, I decided to go on a diet. That’s right. A digital diet.  Like any diet I set some ground rules:

  1. Monday – Saturday I am only allowed to check the internet/blogs/social media five times a day in a twenty-four (24) hour period.
  2. Sunday – Gorge away! That’s right on Sunday I can spend as much time as I want on the internet and social media. Besides, I can’t give up Twitter on Sunday, too much NFL goodness.
  3. If I’m attending a conference it is okay to be on social media and the internet BUT I will not tweet during a session. This has always been a huge distraction for me anyway. This rule doesn’t mean I can’t tweet before or after a session. It just means that during the session my attention is on the speaker.

I’ve been on this diet for a week now. And it is incredibly hard but it has been incredibly rewarding. Minimizing the number of times I go on the internet has been very helpful for my concentration and productivity. Without the onslaught of new blog posts and updates my brain had some time to take a breather.

I also felt less stressed and overwhelmed.  When you are constantly connected you feel like there is always something to be read, liked, tweeted or written.  You are never actually done because there will always be something more to read. I think it creates a subtle form of stress. Reducing my exposure helped me to see a much less overwhelming world.

The downside? I realized how weak I was…I won’t lie. There were a couple times I cheated. It scared me that it was difficult to cut off the internet.  I need to work on that.

This is why you need a diet. We are all oversaturated and inundated with distractions, this doesn’t help us manage the stress we are already feeling from a stressful world (job, kids, Syria, the economy). I strongly encourage you to take a break, go on a diet or even cut yourself off completely. Your brain will thank you!

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Melissa Fairman

Melissa Fairman is the author of the blog HR Remix and has five years experience working in HR. She's super awesome and has an MBA with an HR concentration from Baldwin Wallace College and a PHR certification from the HRCI institute. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter at @HRRemix.

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