Are You In A Social Dilemma?

Why physical activity beats social media activity in the quest for happiness

There’s no denying that physical activity has the power to improve your mood – scientifically proven by the rate at which the ‘happiness hormone’ dopamine is released when we are being physically active – so if there is one change you need to make right now, it’s ditching your social media habit in favour of more physical activity – and what better time to do it than as Dubai Fitness Challenge begins?

The onset of social media has undoubtedly connected people more, but some of the downsides are the increased risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy. On top of that are the constant notifications – as highlighted in the new Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma – that detract you from reaching your goals.


If you’re serious about getting your mojo back after what has been a long and difficult year, follow my tips on swapping social media activity for physical activity to help you be the best human you can be. 

Discipline = results

First things first: understand that ditching the phone is going to take discipline. Why? Because you’re addicted to the instant gratification that you get from your phone. Don’t feel bad though; every one of us is addicted to something, to some extent, and kicking any kind of addiction requires discipline by the truckload. Start by setting ground rules for yourself and committing to following them. Create rules for when you can check emails, messages and social media – this ensures you aren’t mindlessly checking it every 30 seconds. Be warned that this in itself is not an easy process – it will get easier, but you need to be disciplined to see results. Put in the hard work and then you win.

Marcus ran 30 marathons in 30 days for the Dubai Fitness Challenge, 2018

Desire to change is the ultimate key

Change is key – and the desire to change is the ultimate key. If you don’t want to ditch your phone and get out and live an active and healthy life, then embarking on this journey is going to be tough. Check the point below about what you want your legacy to be and then reconsider if you truly have the desire to make some changes.

Check-in on your goals often

Here’s the thing – goals don’t need to be huge like we often hear. Instead, set two smaller goals; one related to physical activity, so there’s a reason to get up and get moving, then set another goal related to using your phone less often. To do this, record how much phone time you currently rack up in a week, and set a target for the following week to use it for less time. Achieving a goal sounds simple, but you must start with setting a goal first, which far too many people don’t do. Keep yourself on track by having your goals clearly written down with timelines and be committed to those timelines.

Take a Social Media Detox

Quitting technology cold turkey is unrealistic, but taking the odd day off can work wonders for your wellbeing. If this makes you anxious, leave your phone in a drawer for an hour, and build up the time from there. You’ll probably feel lost at first, but you’re able to fill this time with something fun and productive, and instead of documenting every moment of your weekend, you can enjoy each moment without the pressure of being constantly connected. There are countless activities you can replace your screen time with, so get creative about how you can move your body in a way that works for you. 

Switch Off Notifications

The rule is simple here: turn off notifications when it’s time to get your head down and work, or simply enjoy some you-time without distractions. Do you really need to be disturbed each time someone replies to your Facebook post or likes your picture on Instagram? While we’re not completely to blame – studies show that with every “like” or “follow,” the brain releases the neurotransmitter dopamine, effectively causing it to rewire itself to constantly crave social media –  ask yourself what value that brings to your life. A notification does not make you a better human being, so best to turn it off. I have another rule of thumb: unless it’s a call from your family or an important contact or a calendar reminder, then your phone should never light up. If you’re at work, your work deserves 100% focus. If you’re with family and friends, they deserve 100% of your attention. If you’re at the gym, your exercise deserves 100% of your effort.

Consider Your Legacy

Think about what you want to be remembered for. What do you want your legacy to be? Do you want to be remembered as the guy or girl that’s always on their phone, has poor social skills, and is not active at all? Sounds brutal, but if you do not put that device down then that’s all you will become. Your parents had bigger plans for you, you had bigger plans for yourself before you allowed technology to take over your life. Think about it and decide if putting your phone away or turning off notifications is worth the reward of becoming the person you want to be. 

Marcus Smith

Marcus Smith

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