A 21st Century Scourge
Are you addicted to your computer? Of course not. People become addicted to drugs, to alcohol, to sex, not computers, right? Wrong.
Amy Harris, the Community Manager for Expert Market (office products website) helps give you tips for conquering your computer addiction.
Electronics addictions are very real, and very serious and are currently affecting an ever increasing number of people in the developed world, many of whom don’t even know it. The problem with computer addiction is that the boundary between normal business/leisure usage and addiction is very blurred, so people tend not to think that there may be a problem.
However, if you find that you’re waking in the night to check your email, if you become anxious when you have no network on your iPhone, or if you’re spending more time online than socializing in the real world, then it may be time to take some steps to conquer the addiction.
1. Alter Your Routine
As with many addictions, computer addiction exists because people fall into a routine; it becomes a habit, and one that is particularly difficult to break.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you reach over onto your bedside table for your smartphone or tablet to check your mail, look at social media or read the news?
This is something that has become the norm for many, and it only serves to exacerbate the addiction. It’s not easy, but slowly try altering your routine, mixing it up a bit. One day, make having breakfast and a coffee the first thing you do, another day hop straight in the shower, and only then open up your laptop.
By varying your daily routine, you’ll no longer have a set time you’re online which can help break the never ending cycle.
2. Expand Your Interests
What else do you enjoy doing, other than programming, playing computer games and surfing the web? Nothing? Then there’s a problem.
So many people become so fixated on electronics that they live in their own technological bubble, isolated from society, and once again this hiding away from the world becomes routine and fuels the addiction. Widen your range of activities, keep yourself busy.
Join a gym, watch a movie, learn how to play bridge if you wish. Just find hobbies that keep your interest and limit the amount of time you spend thinking, dreaming about your computer, and which don’t involve any sort of computer or internet connection. This ties in with the first step of changing your routine and finding other ways to occupy yourself.
3. Set Goals
Going into this head first with no clear goal in mind is pointless, and it’s likely to mean you’ll give up and fall back into your old ways.
Think how this might apply if you wanted to lose weight. You wouldn’t simply say “I need to lose weight”. You’d be more specific, saying for example, “I need to lose 10 lbs.”
Having something to aim for encourages motivation to get to that place. How long do you spend on your computer? For one week, keep a computer diary and total the hours each day. During the second week, aim to spend just three quarters of that time on your computer, dropping it every subsequent week. If you’re spending more time on new activities, this stage should be a piece of cake.
4. Reward Yourself
Rewards are an important part of any addiction treatment. It’s vital that you realize that you’re on the right track and understand when you should be rewarded.
For every week that you meet your goals, consider giving yourself a treat. Not only will this help your motivation, it will also give you something to look forward to – but be sensible about the reward. Back to the weight loss analogy, you wouldn’t reward a 10 lb loss with a big cream cake, would you?
So try to make your rewards something unrelated to computers or the internet. Go out for a meal with your family, buy some new clothes (in store!) or enjoy an ice cold beer. It’s the little things in life that keep people going.
5. Seek Support
If you’re struggling to overcome your computer addiction despite self-help, you’re not alone. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s just important to understand that different people respond to different treatments and what might be right for one may not be right for another.
If you’re finding self-help techniques aren’t proving beneficial, ask for support from your family or friends, or consider joining a support group in your local community. It’s not therapy, so don’t think of it as such.
Support groups are simply about sharing experiences, being around like minded people, and learning how others are affected by addiction and how they are coping with their everyday urges. There’s no shame in admitting you need a bit of assistance.