Plug Back into Life: Fourteen Ways to Reclaim Real-Time Living

Consider taking a technology holiday. Turn off the computer.  Don’t use it on a daily basis.  If you have to use it, use it only for necessary tasks.  Force yourself to go offline, and say ‘goodbye’ temporarily (or possibly, permanently) to those people you are conducting a life with on the Internet.  You can start this in a gradual way by creating a computer/Internet-free day, gradually extending this to include larger periods of time.

Develop other interests. Your new interests should preferably have nothing to do with computers or the Internet. Try a new activity or hobby. Do something active, preferably with your body, as the Net is very cerebral. It would be even better if that hobby or activity could include your spouse, friend, or significant other, as this can serve to fulfill some of your social needs that were previously met on the Internet.

Exercise. There is probably no one single recommendation that I can make that can have as many positive effects on your life than exercise. Exercise offers a variety of potential benefits. It is fun; can improve your health; increase your longevity; improve your overall functioning on a daily basis; improve your energy; increase your mood; and improve your self-esteem. There is considerable research supporting the efficacy of exercise for improving psychological and addiction problems. Always consult your health care professional before beginning any kind of exercise program.

Watch less television.  I am convinced that the use and abuse of television exacerbates many problems in our society (especially violence). There appears to be a correlation between heavy TV use and Internet Addiction for some people.

Talk to your friends and family about what is happening in your life.  Internet abuse is a behavior that is typically practiced alone. The more you use it, the more isolated you become; the more isolated you become, the greater the likelihood that you will continue to feel shame, and engage in self-defeating/addictive patterns.

Try Counseling or Psychotherapy to assist you in dealing with the addictive behavior.  At times it is too difficult to break the addictive cycle alone.  A psychologist or other trained mental health professional can help you to identify your options.

Consider a support group. There are several online support groups for Internet abuse and addiction. Unfortunately many of these groups also serve as online chat rooms.

Other support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Sex Addicts Anonymous (SA), and Gamblers Anonymous (GA), can be useful as well. Some of the other Support Groups that Might be Helpful are:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Narcotics Anonymous
  • Alanon (which is for family and friends)
  • Alateen (for teenagers)
  • Alatot (for children)
  • Co-dependents Anonymous (which is for friends and loved ones who are living with or involved with an addict)
  • Gamblers Anonymous (this may be the one that is most closely aligned with Internet addiction, due to the similarities between Internet addiction and compulsive gambling)
  • Rational Recovery
  • Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
  • Sexaholics Anonymous
  • Sex Addicts Anonymous
  • Overeaters Anonymous.
  • Debtors Anonymous

Develop new relationships and friendships. Developing new friendships can expand the inner satisfaction that you experience in your life. Although technology is stimulating, it may not provide the personal/emotional connection that real-time relationships can.

Talk to others about your use or overuse of the Net. Secrecy is one the seven predictors of an Internet addiction problem. Don’t keep it a secret. Secrecy breeds shame, and shame adds to the isolation that you may already feel. If the isolation continues, depression may occur.

Shorten your Internet sessions: Because the Internet seems to distort the passage of time, steps need to be taken to ground the user to the here-and-now. One way to do this is to increase your consciousness of the amount of time that you spend online and to spend less time on the Internet. 

Watch your moods and behaviors that may trigger Internet abuse. Use the Net only when absolutely necessary. Watch your boredom as this can trigger your use of the Net. We tend to resort to well-established patterns and coping mechanisms when bored, tired, hungry, or feeling other strong emotions. Loneliness is a common trigger for spending excessive amounts of time online. Watch yourself, so, as not to make excuses to use the Internet when you don’t actually have to.

Develop a Relapse Prevention Plan. Become aware of your rituals and triggers to go online. A trigger is an associative link or connection to the addiction pattern. Every addiction creates numerous associations that are formed by behavior rituals (patterns) performed during the development of the addiction. These rituals become very conditioned to your whole behavior pattern and can serve to kick-off the addictive cycle.

14.    Utilize spirituality as a support in making the changes you desire in you’re life. Spirituality can be a great resource for people. I’m not necessarily talking about God or organized religion per se, but rather the ability to connect with a higher sense of self and power in the Universe. For some people this is accomplished through God or organized religion, for others prayer, meditation, martial arts, exercise, the outdoors, art, music, poetry can serve to enliven their spiritual center. The important part is to be able to connect with your inner self, to expand that connection outward toward others, and to utilize that connection as a resource in your recovery. 

Copyright Dr. David Greenfield, 1999, 2013. All Rights Reserved.


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