You Have A Choice Where to Put Your Energy

The Road To Mental Wellness > Mental Health > You Have A Choice Where to Put Your Energy

You Have a Choice Where to Put Your Energy – whether we are talking about beating addiction or raising your family, you have no choice but to try your best.

Meant to be alone - A color cartoon photo of mental health blogger, Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg (Owner and Chief content creator for The Road To Mental Wellness) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Follow us

In our modern technological age, it’s easy to blame all the external factors that are impacting our mental health. Factors like social media, video platforms, news sound bites, and clickbait are so ripe with despair that we feel less well as soon as we pick up our phones. And for good reason. Bad news is a better seller than news that inspires. I can’t speak for you, but some days, I feel an increasing sense of dread the closer my phone gets to my face.

While many things in today’s world work against our nature in terms of optimizing our health, we can still do something about it. In the simplest terms, we can do the opposite for better mental health. Things like going for a walk instead of laying still watching TV or connecting with friends instead of isolating ourselves behind closed doors. But that’s not all we should be doing. No, we need to find other ways to own our part in the decline of our mental well-being.

Why Phones are so problematic. 

In my view, there has been no greater threat to the everyday person’s mental health than that of the mobile phone. This tech is literally an electronic gateway drug. One which leads us directly to the addictive algorithm of apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. 

Mobile phone addiction is similar to other types of addiction because of its effect on dopamine, a chemical in the body that causes feelings of pleasure. Cell phone use has been shown to stimulate the production and release of dopamine, which drives the need to use it more and more 1

Additionally, Your phone triggers dopamine and oxytocin and relieves cortisol 2. Two of these chemicals are “feel good” neurochemicals in the brain, dopamine and oxytocin. and the other, cortisol. A hormone known to elevate stress levels in the brain. 

Doing The Opposite for Better Mental Health

While a simplistic explanation of dependency, it nonetheless shows us this: If we like an experience (driven by dopamine) or love an experience (where oxytocin may play a role) We will, understandably, want to repeat a behavior. In this case, picking up and using our phone. 

And what of our old friend cortisol? Well, when we are stressed, this chemical fella is the culprit. If we feel good about using our phones for mindless scrolling on our favorite apps, yet can’t use them right away, anxiety is produced. In other words, we are hit with a dose of cortisol.

Therefore, we “use” to ease the anxiety and in doing so, we feel good or “normal” when we can. Herein lies the problem, the addictive cycle. The problem with cellphone addiction is that it’s so normalized that few see the enormity of the problem.

But make no mistake, an addiction is an addiction and the harms, like so many other things in life, only come to light down the road. Just the constant activation of the stress hormone cortisol alone has serious health risks. 

The Health Risks Associated with Prolonged Activation of Cortisol 

High cortisol levels can have several negative effects on the body. Some of the effects of high cortisol on the body include weight gain, acne, thinning skin, easy bruising, slowed healing, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, loss of calcium from bones, anxiety, depression, irritability, cognitive impairment, gastrointestinal upset, headache and fatigue 1. Long-term exposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can negatively affect almost all of your body’s processes. 

This can increase your risk of health issues such as heart disease, lung issues, obesity, anxiety, depression and more 2. It’s worth noting that constant cortisol release can in fact, impact your mental and physical health.

You’re Not Powerless

I often say, while addiction is hard, you still have a choice about what you try to do to fight back. So, no, you are not powerless. Now, that’s not to say that kicking an addiction is a walk in the park – far from it. However, a particular mindset is needed

I know many see a mindset as a character trait, but a mindset is nothing more than a lump of clay waiting to be molded. In other words, we all can work to build one. Keep in mind though that we need to do two things, at least initially.

1. We need to acknowledge that cellphones and the apps contained therein are inherently addictive. 

2. As we work to change and develop a new mindset, we must understand that it will be rough.  So, as you establish a new routine around your addiction, you are GOING TO MESS UP! and that’s ok. It’s 100% going to happen. Just dust off the feeling of being a failure and go right back at it.

Remember, just because society sees something as normal doesn’t mean it’s healthy or otherwise good for us. So, it’s always a clever idea to ask yourself: “Is what I am participating in impacting my quality of life in a hurtful way?” Be wise and ensure you consider what your habits are doing to those around you.

Read Some great posts from Our Writers

If, for example, you game for hours every day and you have children or a partner, it is your responsibility to see if you are harming them with your lack of interaction. A simple way to know is by logging your hours gaming, working and time spent with loved ones. If it turns out that you’re spending waaay more time in front of a console, things are not balanced and by extension, not healthy.

Need help? Go to Our Mental Health Resources Centre

We should keep in mind that because we don’t see the problem doesn’t mean that there isn’t one. Lack of attention to young children for example is in fact stunting their development. All young children want is your time. How does it impact them when a parent does not offer it to them? If you’re not asking yourself this question and actively trying to figure it out – you should be. To be present in a child’s life is to be a parent, it’s foolish to think otherwise.

While partaking in such reflections is no easy task, it’s vital. So, whether we like it or not; whether we choose to use excuses and let it be the norm, the results are what matter. Do we want strong, healthy, and well-adjusted kids or do we want them to grow up with depression, poor attention skills and being disconnected from others?

The Answer is simple. We want what’s best for our kids, therefore if we are serious about our families, the onus is on us to put in the work and change – addiction or not. In my view, if we know the answer, then we should actively build upon it and do what’s right for, in this case, our kids. We need to do more than just say things like, “I’d do anything for those I love” than turn around and occupy yourself with your own hobbies. Again, we are talking about the amount of time engaged in gaming as this example suggests. Self-care is important – hours In front of anything is not self-care, it’s self-sabotage.

Self-Care is Important But Beware

If for example, your child wants your attention, maybe a day outside together, the moment you hear yourself saying, “Yeah but, I want to unwind and play video games,” remember, that’s the potential gateway statement to creating distance between you and those you love.

“What we do or don’t do affects everyone.”

At the end of the day, addiction is a hell of a mountain to climb. What’s important is that you recognize that you have many reasons to improve the quality of your life. Easier said than done. However, each time you try, each time you get up and try again, you’re improving the odds of your recovery.

I’m rooting for you.

Need immediate Help? Go To Talk Suicide Canada

Front and back cover of the road to mental wellness - 8 sings your relationship is hurting your mental health.
Want to get the complete Audiobook version Free! Go to our Homepage and use the Scriber form to receive our newsletter. Boom the book is yours.

STOP DEPRESSON SUMMIT - When you should check in on a friend with mental illness.

Jonathan speaking at the 

Jonathan Speaking at the Stop Depression Summit

 On February 23, 2023

His talk was on the ways in which you can take back your life when you have trauma and major depressive disorder

Now, you can watch Jonathan Speak at the Stop Depression Summit – FREE!

I was honored to be part of such a wonderfully resource rich summit with some of the foremost experts in the field.

Follow us

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

Please leave a comment and tell us what you liked about what you read.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.