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Apr 2, 2024

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6 min read

Dopamine Detox: How Balance is Better Than Detox

Dopamine Detox: How Balance is Better Than Detox

Discover the art of dopamine detoxification and discern why moderation outshines extreme methods.

Like many, you've probably come across dozens of articles or YouTube videos on dopamine detox and "How To Quit Social Media." Perhaps you've wondered if you should give it a try, too? While it's a valid thought, it's not necessarily a good idea!

Many heavy social media users experience a sense of wasted time, a feeling of regression, and impacts on their physical and mental health. You might recognize yourself here. So, naturally, you think that if productivity gurus talk about their detox, it must work. It could help you too. Well, sorry to break it to you, but detoxes are not the solution.

Your desire to reduce screen time and break free from the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is perfectly understandable. But before paying for online courses promising to divide your screen time by 10 in 2 days, read on.

In this article, we'll shed light on the subject so you can leave with a clearer idea and simple (and free) tips to implement, ensuring more long-term results!

Embracing or Rejecting the Phone?

| β€œKnowing that technology is here to stay, we need to learn how to live with the complexity of technology, not escape from it.” β€” "The Future Of Happiness," Amy Blankson

Historically, humans have been skeptical of technological advances. Contrary to popular belief, the telephone did not initially receive a warm welcome. In 1877, when Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor of the telephone) filed a patent, the New York Times published a scathing critique of the "atrocity" of the telephone, capable of exposing "family secrets" to the world, portraying it as a true "instrument of indiscretion."

Quickly, humans adapt, fears evolve, and opinions change. In the 21st century, we can affirm that the phone has become indispensable in our lives. In 2022, over 90% of individuals aged 12-60 owned a smartphone.

It's a fantastic tool that connects us, creates and maintains social ties, allows us to discover new things, travel, and organize. Without much thought, we've embraced it and given it a significant place in our daily lives. For many, it has taken up a considerable part of our lives, sometimes involuntarily. And some have taken notice.

It's not the device that should be feared, but rather our actions. All activities, even those not initially intended, have become lucrative businesses. For perspective, the smartphone market is estimated to generate over $510 billion annually. This market not only has no intention of disappearing but is also growing. And surprise: we are both the actors and the victims.

Third Option: Regulation

| β€œWe need a strategy for using technology in a way that evokes our potential rather than hinders it.” β€” "The Future Of Happiness," Amy Blankson

As Amy Blankson explains, we must find ways to regulate our tech usage and promote activities that serve our interests rather than the other way around. We must stay in control and not become the product of our smartphones.

Recent studies support the idea that we need to regulate our smartphone usage rather than quit altogether, including the concept of "detox."

Experts conducted tests comparing groups over a 4-month period, focusing on life satisfaction, problematic smartphone use, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, physical activity, and smoking behavior. The groups were categorized as follows:

🚫 First group: "Group Abstinence." This group followed a detox aiming to abruptly stop using their phones.

πŸ“‰ Second group: "Group Reduction." This group followed a program to gradually reduce their usage.

πŸŽ›οΈ Third group: "Control Group." This group aimed to self-regulate and control their usage.

Results showed that the β€œAbstinence Group” initially achieved highly satisfying results. However, over time, their outcomes declined, approaching those of the "Reduction" group. Those who were selected to self-regulate had consistently linear results without significant improvement.

What stands out is that regulation, in the long run, yields far better results than abstinence, which, as is known, has a high relapse rate, similar to individuals recovering from alcohol addiction:

| β€œLiterature in the field estimates the relapse rate at 50% in the months following withdrawal and nearly 70% a year after detoxification.” β€” Dawson, Goldstein, and Grant, 2007

TL;DR: regulating and reducing usage is better than a cycle of detox and relapse.

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚑️

πŸ’œ

πŸ”’

⌨️

🌿

🌿

πŸŒ™

✨

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

Made simple. See by yourself.

⚑️

πŸ’œ

πŸ”’

⌨️

🌿

🌿

πŸŒ™

✨

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

⚑️

πŸ’œ

πŸ”’

⌨️

🌿

🌿

πŸŒ™

✨

Don’t worry, TikTok will always be around

But your

won't wait.

Better Screen Time

All made simple. See by yourself.

How to Regulate Digital Usage?

Yes, a detox is straightforward to implement: just cut off everything for a determined period, hoping it fixes all your problems. Regulating takes more time and effort, but the results will be much more positive and long-lasting.

πŸ˜΅β€πŸ’« Get Rid of FOMO

One significant issue with phones today is FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). A recent study shows that the number one reason for a problematic relationship with the internet at large is FOMO. But how do you know if you're affected? FOMO is complex, but to keep it concrete, here are the three key points to watch for:

  • You compulsively check your social media, just in case you missed a message or need to view others' stories to know what they're doing in real-time. In short, you fear missing out on information that could distance you from a trend.

  • You envy or harbor negative feelings toward others on social media. Their happiness almost makes you sick. Why does it happen to them and not to you? You're obsessed with these differences and constantly compare yourself.

  • You feel mentally drained by social media. Initially, you think it's beneficial and entertaining, but after 10 minutes, it starts bringing out your worst demons: stress, nervousness, anxiety, or even anger.

To get rid of FOMO, you can directly remove the most addictive apps:

πŸ—‘οΈ First step: Remove them from the home screen.

πŸ”Ž Second step: Remove them from suggestions and search. Go to Settings > Instagram (for example(for example) > Siri & Search, and uncheck all options. Now, you'll have to go the extra mile to find Instagram!

πŸ”• Third step: Turn off "non-essential" notifications (e.g., social media).

πŸ”’ Fourth step: Insert pause and intentionality before you can use a distracting app. For this, you can use the Jomo app, available for free on iPhone, iPad and Mac. Add a "Conscious Use" session in the Rules > Sessions section, enable the "Breaks" option, and you're all set! (Bonus: it also blocks app notifications).

⏳ Block or Force Intentionality After a Set Amount of Daily Screen Time

Defining an "ideal" daily screen time limit is challenging. What matters is not so much the time but the activities we engage in. Start by not exceeding your national average screen time. In France, for example, it's approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes. If you struggle, gradually block certain services on your phone:

1️⃣ Method 1: Set a Limit with Screen Time. Go to Settings > Screen Time > App Limits. Select all, then set a maximum duration. If you reach this budget, your apps will be blocked.

2️⃣ Method 2: Set a "Screen Time Limit" condition on Jomo. Go to Jomo > Rules > Conditions > + > Screen Time Limit. If your daily screen time goal is 3 hours, you can set up your limit to block your most distracting apps once you've already spent 2 hours on your phone. You can enable the "Breaks" option on your limit if you want extra unlocks (e.g., 2 in case of emergencies).

πŸ₯± Make Your Phone Uninteresting

One reason for our phone overuse is its attractiveness: so many possibilities. How to resist? Make it boring.

🀩 Make your environment exciting: To compete with your phone, your environment must be stimulating. Highlight supports for activities you enjoy (e.g., for drawing, keep your sketchbook and pencils on your coffee table), place activities in key locations (e.g., magazines in the bathroom to avoid grabbing your phone). If you're lacking inspiration, we have some ideas for you!

πŸ˜’ Make your phone boring: To make it less appealing, switch it to "Dumb Phone" mode. We explain everything in this article.


This article was admittedly a bit long (feel free to bookmark it to revisit later). But if you take away one thing, it should be this: don't be too hard on yourself, and remain skeptical of anyone on social media claiming to have successfully detoxed. If they're there to tell you about it, they haven't truly detoxed (why would they if it's their livelihood?). Science is clear: regulation is one of the best remedies against excessive screen time. The key is patience and motivation.

πŸ”— Study 1 ; Latribune ; Study 2 ; Statista ; The Future Of Happiness ; Study 3
βœ‹ Illustrations by Jomo ; Photography Unsplash