Social Media Is Poison For The Brain
As much as I push for red meat as a gamechanger in the apex lifestyle, the biggest differences are still going to be found in what you’re able to cut out. And social media is right near the top of the list, kept in good company by vegetable oils, processed carbs, and the victim mindset.
While it can certainly be useful for keeping contact with friends and family you’d never see otherwise, there’s a case to be made for a drastic cutting down of screentime. Just like some foods can wreck your digestion, social media is simply poison for the brain.
For anyone who’s seen the latest documentary during the round, The Social Dilemma, you’ll probably already be set on making changes. For me, it’s just another piece of evidence to drive the point home. Flicking from screen to screen has a jarring effect on one’s neurology, and just isn’t compatible with the quest of achieving a stress-free, forward-moving lifestyle.
However you might justify its role, there’s no avoiding the fact that it’s inextricably linked with your chances at a successful fitness transformation.
How Social Media Kills Motivation
Whatever your goal is in training, whether it’s shape, strength, or health, there’s one crucial ingredient driving you there. Dopamine. This is the reward neurotransmitter, providing spikes of pleasure that make each completed task feel worthwhile.
Finish your Monday evening leg session? Along comes some fresh dopamine. Finish a big batch of meal prep? Dopamine. Talk to someone in an effort to work over your post-lockdown social anxiety? Dopamine again. It’s designed to make every task seem meaningful, boosting productivity and giving you a reason to do it all over again the next day. The grind needs its superpower, and that’s the dopamine circuit.
But guess what else spikes this neurotransmitter? Flicking across the Instagram feed. Swiping on Tinder. Allowing Youtube’s autoplay to spin you to the next video. All these things are essentially quests for novelty, a desire to see what’s out there. Very much in line with the dopamine loop.
This is pretty much why these apps can string you along for hours, capturing your attention with little effort. And with your borrowed time comes the opportunity for more clicks and more advertising revenue. As one of the developers in The Social Dilemma put it: ‘When it’s free, you become the product.’
So where does this use and abuse leave you? For one, whatever you click on, it’s likely going to be a complete waste of time. If you’re scrolling around Instagram in the middle of a gym session, there are going to be a few missed sets.
But this is about dopamine, believe it or not. When each flick of the finger gets you across to a fresh image, and an extra hit of the reward drug, the brain ends up mounting a resistance to its effects. It becomes completely mindless, and then you’re left with no prizes and just withdrawals. Much like how seven cups of coffee a day will cause the brain’s receptors to stop responding to the positive effects of caffeine. Eventually, you drink just to stop the headaches.
This desensitisation to dopamine has huge impacts across one’s lifestyle. When dopamine doesn’t produce the goods and hit the feel-good notes, the menial work stops mattering. Going to the gym can turn into a slog, and you’ll have to rely on discipline alone to power you through each week. That might be enough for some folk, but it’s definitely the hard way of getting stuff done.
To bring things into the simplest of terms, mindless habits can sink your ability to get motivated for simple tasks. Which happens to comprise the largest span of a fitness lifestyle. So it’s an unlikely combo for carving out an apex physique.
How Do You Beat Social Media?
The solution is as basic, and difficult, as you’d imagine. Step away from the phone, the computer, or whatever you’re using for mindless screentime. The more time you can wrest away from this, the better your motivation levels will become.
Trim Down The Apps – Keep things down to the essentials. Messages, email, and whatever you’d actually need to keep an eye on.
Block Notifications – You don’t benefit from being told that there’s a happy hour on Tinder, Domino’s is offering a discount, or your ex has just posted on Facebook. Set all, or most, of your apps to disabled notifications.
Set A Timer App – Give yourself a time limit before you jump on Instagram for a quick browse. Or pull up a video game.
Use A Browser App To Disabled Related Videos On Youtube – Trust me, all you have to do is to accidentally click on a video on popping, and it will forever be on your recommended feed.
Put Your Phone On Flight Mode Overnight And In The Gym – There’s no way you should be sat up in bed and scrolling through your news feed. When you’re in the gym, phones should be out or kept for music only. In any case, settle on your priorities and keep some separation between the outside world and your own space.
Set A Bedtime And Morning Curfew – There are a whole bunch of reasons to avoid the phone altogether in the bedroom. Being exposed to blue light can delay the onset of sleep, and there is always the risk of prodding your anxiety back into action. If the first thing you check in the morning is your phone, then that habit can create anticipatory stress that affects sleep.
Mindful Exercises – Alongside creating some distance from social media, there are ways of fixing the dopamine problem by adding in some extras. And that would by bringing in mindful practice. Anything that forces you to bring your awareness to the present. It could be sitting down to meditate at daybreak, going out for a walk with your dog in tow, or combing through a few chapters of your new favourite book in the evening. This will effectively pull you in the opposite direction to the mindless world of chronic screentime.
Don’t Sleep On The Online Problem
The dangers of social media isn’t exactly a fresh topic, and it will continue to get trotted out a while yet, because there’s no sign of it going away. But by putting it under the fitness lense, you should at least have a few selfish reasons to relax your eyes a little more.
Dopamine really is the king when it to embracing the process and stacking those habits across the day. Nutrition can certainly help your neurotransmitter balance, but you can’t look past the dopamine sink that gets nudged back into action each time to whip out the phone and check to see what’s going on in the world. Learn to care less about the random stuff, and you’ll be well on your way to staging the ultimate fitness transformation.
Take The Apex Blueprint On For Yourself
In case you’re looking to test it out for yourself and get through some mild discomfort, I have just the thing. At DW Wrexham, I provide the whole package of one-to-one training, nutritional support, and habit coaching.
To start everything off, you can book a consultation through the app in my link here.
For those who aren’t roaming around the wrexham vicinity, I also have an online membership programme that provides plans across training, nutrition, and habits. And you get to kick off with a free week’s trial.