Time: 5 minute read
Listening to: Nothing
Notable songs: N/A
It's 7:29 and I woke at 7 to my alarm. In the time since, I have read on my phone and continued to Entre Nous.
The topic that I tabled for today was how I feel having blocked access to Shattered Pixel Dungeon on my phone and laptop on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Monday was a weird one for me. My mum was still round and for most of the day I fell into her frame of the eternal Saturday. It's very difficult preparing for a long trip when someone in the household acts and behaves extremely relaxed and does not share in your rising cortisol. Of course this is a good thing in it's own way for she has safeguarded against infectious stress, however it messed up my head for most of the day. After publishing my post in the morning, I spent most of the day in a haze trying to get the critical mass of energy to be able to do Norfolk prep and really focus on it. I hoped that would happen once mum left the house. However even afterwards, the feeling remained.
I did what I could considering the conditions, but it's important to bear in mind that it is more enjoyable to have a slow relaxing day. So even if I logically recognise that I really should be going through my list and checking it, I won't want to. This funk that I had through the day was aided by my choice to block shattered pixel dungeon for the entire day. For the past 2 months I had played the game every day. This was likely a self soothing mechanism of some sort. I had become accustomed to having that available to me. In addition to this, I normally had the option of browsing all of my favourite addictive sites (mainly Reddit). In conjunction with new limits on SPD, I decided to block these websites on my laptop until the end of the week. This was a big step and I'm proud that I made it. The main question is how I will cope. I gave myself respite by allowing the same sites on my phone during this period. This is so I'm not white-nuckling my way through.
These two decisions were actually linked together. You see, my tendency to keep playing SPD was heavily influenced by my repeated visiting of their subreddit. In the same way that repeatedly exposing myself to lefty subreddits gave me their values, visiting SPD gave me an urge to play the game. Therefore my decision to ratchet down on my usage of the game has to include an equivalent ratcheting down of my usage of their community. As for many more toxic places online, the community is what keeps people there. I'm sure there's an element of the sunk cost fallacy in there somehow.
So the 2 days I've experienced without this content on tap was Monday and Wednesday of this week. Monday was more stressful than Wednesday because I had a work day during my time on the latter. This gave me respite. In addition, I was so wrapped up in stress regarding S, that I hardly thought about the game all day. I suppose that's progress, but it sure isn't what it looks like in the self help books.
Together these decisions act like a soft dopamine lock. As those are my main channels of high volume dopamine channels, I have had to find solace with the lower volume channels. What I mean by this is that whilst I browse reddit or play shattered pixel dungeon, for that time I am entirely engaged with my whole brain. I am in a flow state and it is very satisfying to be so. An example of lower volume channels would be somethings like reading a book. I may get into the same engaged flow state as with the other, however it takes me longer to do so and the state is more fragile.
I had sought to down-regulating my dopamine ever since I saw a video called the Dopamine detox and reset ritual a few months ago. The video acts as a primer for why one should do it as how one could do it. The reset ritual has been rather useful so far. Caveat, I've been doing a very minimal version of it. I kept track of 7 basic metrics most days for the past 2 months.
These are those metrics:
- post published- this is useful to keep track of as I've put a lot of stock into myself for this habit and I'm proud of the progress I've made so far.
- studied german- this has been my most consistent habit, even when I don't track it in the ritual. I think a big reason for the daily habit is that I know that if I don't do it, my work load for the next day is increased.
- tracked all meals- this is a frustrating thing to keep up with. Basically, if I don't have digestion issues, I have no urge to track them. And recently I haven't had any problems, so I've been decidedly lax.
- movement- for both this and the next category, I have them measured in half hour blocks up to 3 hours per day. This should probably be tweaked as I can easily do mor?e than this.
- creative work- I've been rather creative in figuring out ways to categorise different actions as creative work. For instance I include my writing on days when I've done nothing else, or I include my cooking. I also include any painting I'm doing at work, but I don't include gardening. It would probably help to crystallise my definitions to prevent this regular smudging of the boundaries
- white space- this is empty space when you're not doing anything. In the words of Hayao Miyazaki, it is the space between two claps. That space helps to define the actions around it. I do this by using pomodoro timers during my work hours, whereby I take a 5 minute break every 25 minutes. This helps me when I'm burning myself out, but it can be frustrating when I'm in the flow state.
- did the reset ritual- this seems like a bit ridiculous to include, but it was recommended, and doesn't hurt to note down. So for this time being, I'm leaving it.
The dopamine detox is different to it, and they are supposed to go hand in hand. From what I can remember, the detox involves slowly tapering off your main dopamine channels, starting with the most destructive. For many this would be pornography, for other video games, others yet have news websites as theirs. Mine is pornography too. In general, it feels like I'm white-nuckling it, and that scares me because I recognise that abstinence is not recovery. I remember a few years ago, I didn't use porn for about 3 or 4 months. However when the urge came back, it was powerful and insistent. I don't want that. Aside from porn the main things I use for dopamine nowadays would be Reddit, YouTube, and shattered pixel dungeon. Outside of these is also cooking, talking to friends and making progress at work. However the latter group is not designed to be addictive. Whilst the former partially is.
I would like to better label these as a broader category but after trying to do so, I see that each of them satisfies many needs within me. This would explain their staying power of the years. Many around me suffer in the same way I do. Considering this, I think the next step for me would be to better integrate my friends into this process and reducing the burden I put on myself to "deal with my own problems". This would help both of us. It feels good to help and be helped. And maybe by doing so they can follow the pattern and open up when they need to.