Your internet use may be cyberattacking your mood
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You enjoy gaming, hanging out on social media, or maybe even explicit websites. Time can fly by and you use the internet to relax and wait to feel like going back out into the world again. Only, you find the motivation never comes and depression is looming. You find yourself more isolated and further away from your goals. You may be experiencing how the good intention of using the internet for a release can lead to more mental health problems than peace.

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An overwhelming amount of research links compulsive internet use with anxiety, depression, social phobia, and even suicidal thoughts. Impulsivity, inattention, problems with planning, and time management are also linked as well. Using the internet as a reward, relaxation, or release may be leading you down a path to major disturbance. The following are five tips to help make sure you’re staying in control and able to cyber surf like a gentleman.

A Corrupt File

The brain believes that the internet is helping you, but when you compulsively use the internet, your own system crashes. There is not enough space left in your hard drive to give you the drive you need in the outside world. The files in your brain need to be restored. Your system needs a reboot in order to fight off the attacks on your mood caused by compulsive internet usage.  

Rebooting your System

In order to fight off mental health problems where internet is concerned, your system needs a reboot. Though every human has a unique operational system, there are just a few main processes that keep him or her psychologically resilient. First, in order to debug, you have to track three days of your computer use from the time you wake until you go to sleep. Write what you did and rate your feeling of joy on a scale of one to ten. Notice the patterns and fluctuations that emerge. What do you notice about your internet use and your mood? When is it helpful and not helpful?

Writing Your Code

Now that you can see when your mood is high and low, it’s time to adjust your day. What were you doing when it was higher? The following are the three main processes that you need to stay mood-balanced in the face of your relationship with the internet: engaging in real life pleasurable things, facing things you are avoiding yet know you should do and doing things that give you a sense of accomplishment, even if they’re small. It can be anything from finishing a project to doing the dishes. Writing your code by planning out the next three days will be a challenge because its means less FaceTime, but likely more actual face time.

Opening up a New Window / Real Face Time

It’s important to increase the positives in your day. Whether it’s doing things that once were pleasurable or things that could end up being pleasurable. Let this be an experiment. For example, you could read, play with your pet, meet up with friends, cook, enjoy the fresh air, etc. You are not supposed to want to do it or even feel like doing it, but do it anyways for at least 15 minutes. If you can pull away from your computer for 15 minutes, sometimes you will have longer wins. Regardless, your brain needs to free up more space outside of cyberspace.

Facing the Avoidance

Here, we are looking to enter opposite land. You have been using the internet as a form of procrastination of the things you need to address. As you saw from your mood tracking, the feeling of being ready to do things you avoid rarely comes first. In opposite land, we are having the vegetables before the dessert and scheduling the things we are avoiding first with cyber-time later.  Again, track your mood. The proof literally will be in the pudding. You will see better mood and better enjoyment of your limited cyber time later in the day. As you will see, limiting the time will make it more pleasurable and help you feel more in balance at the same time.

As you will see, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Rewriting your code will make space for you to open up a new window and in real-time you will see your mood improve. You’ll feel more confident and productive, knowing it’s you who is in charge-mode.

Dr. Paul DePompo is a psychologist, speaker, researcher, and author of the book “The Other Woman’s Affair”. He is recognized as an expert in helping people learn how to be their own coaches and make lasting change and is the founder of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Institute of Southern California. Dr. DePompo’s no-nonsense approach utilizes short-term techniques, that when mastered, make for long-term change. Follow him on Twitter @DrPaulDePompo.


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