EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — As our lives have been switched to the virtual world, it’s hard to stay away from our smartphones, even in our free time.

Dr. Sarah Martin, psychiatrist with Texas Tech Physicians of El Paso, explained that social media developers use different traits of our brain to make these types of activities more addictive.

In order to shorten the amount of time we spend on social media and, generally, on our smartphones, she suggests introducing another activity to our routine that will overtake the time we spend scrolling through our virtual feeds.

“Making active decisions sometimes can be the key. Adding things to your life rather than saying, ‘I’m never doing that again.’ … That’s not how the human mind works,” explained Martin.

She said any activity, such as reading a book, or anything else that fits us personally, will help in distracting the mind rather than quitting “cold-turkey.” Simply eliminating things will make us just think more about taking one of our devices and getting lost in virtual time and space.

Many will catch up on their daily news, often before going to bed and Martin suggests doing so only if we feel it isn’t upsetting us.

“Poor sleep is a risk factor for so many different psychiatric disorders,” she said.

Watching television or being on our phone before bed can damage our sleep by activating our brain rather than calming it down to prepare for rest, Martin explained.

If you are noticing that your habits are affecting your mood for the worse, she said, it’s important to start actively changing it by engaging in activities that make us happy, even if it means paying the price by being disconnected for just a few hours.