I became interested in health and wellness at a very young age, in part because of my own health struggles, but mostly because my mother is an alternative health fanatic. She is our family doctor for all intents and purposes, and under her able care my family members have very seldom had to go to a real physician.
One of the most important aspects of maintaining good health naturally is sleep and in this day and age one of the most common causes of lack of sleep is internet and video game use and abuse. According to one estimate I found, some 10 percent of those who play video games actually exhibit symptoms of addiction, and a similar percentage of Internet users are also addicted. Symptoms of this addiction include:
- Preoccupation with the Internet or video games when engaged in other activities.
- Downplaying the amount of time spent at the computer.
- Lack of control over the amount of time spent at the computer.
- Loss of time while playing the computer.
- Lying about how much time is spent at the computer.
- Depression, anger and moodiness when away from the computer.
These addictions have both physical and social consequences from carpal tunnel syndrome and migraines to poor personal hygiene and as I mentioned earlier, lack of sleep. The light that comes from these devices can throw off your body clock and disrupt your natural sleep patterns.
Fortunately, we are free moral agents who have the ability to change our behavior, no matter how addictive and entrenched it may be. Many of the time-tested steps for recovering from addiction would no doubt apply to Internet and video game abuse, but here are some tips on how to break free of this addiction based on my own experience as a recovering “addict”:
- Consider what’s motivating you to engage in these activities. Enjoyment or a distraction from something else? Think of the Internet and gaming as something that is using you rather than the other way around.
- Set a goal to make good choices rather than just stop making bad ones. You may not even realize how good you’ll feel – especially if you grew up with these inventions – until you’ve stopped using them for some time.
- Prepare mentally for some of the withdrawal-like symptoms and find activities to occupy your time. Realize these symptoms are temporary and eventually you will adjust to life with less computer time.
- Remember that people before us lived without Internet and video games for thousands of years. Can we really call ourselves free people if we are so psychologically dependent on these inventions?
- Get comfortable with the idea of doing nothing. We as a society have forgotten what it means to really rest. Consider adopting things like prayer, meditation, and guided relaxation as a way to wind down.
- Think of your mind like you think of your body. Just as you are what you eat, your mind is a product of all the images and information you are exposed to.
With some discipline and patience, it is possible to free yourself or someone you care about from this addiction. Take it from someone who has been there, done that, and gotten the t-shirt: you will not regret it.