I had the pleasure of interviewing Cali Estes, PhD., Founder of The Addictions Coach and The Addictions Academy. She is the author of Amazon Best-Seller, “I Married A Junkie,” and is highly sought after Addiction Therapist and Life/Corporate Coach who specializes in harm reduction and utilizes holistic approaches to treat addiction, as well as mental conditions holding her clients back from reaching their full potential. She works with individuals, drug and alcohol treatment teams and addiction professionals looking to advance their knowledge base. Dr. Estes has over 20 years experience working with drug, alcohol and food addictions.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your backstory?
My backstory is that I began my career in addictions (which then did not include technology or internet, as it wasn’t even invented at that time) and for the past 25 years have focused primarily on addictions disorders and use including drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling and now to include internet, gaming, shopping and all things technology related. I had wanted to be an FBI agent, but ended up doing my internship in a prison in the addiction department. I actually was able to identify with the addict, as I had a severe food addiction and also a diet pill addiction to combat the food addiction. I spent my first 10 years in the nonprofit world, we were known as ‘the working poor’ as the long hours and the high stress and always not being able to pay my bills finally got to me. So, I decided to go into private practice to assist high end celebrity clients and high powered CEO’s that are troubled with addiction and need additional structure and support from a boots on the ground process I call Sober on Demand. The same long hours and high stress are there, this time I can pay my bills.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
My most interesting story would be having to deal wit an NFL player that got himself into trouble for using drugs and got dropped as player. I had to fly to Mexico to find him and convince him to get sober, come back to the States with me and try to regain his status as one of the most loved players of all time, after the media slaughtered him. It was an uphill battle with lots of twists and turns along the way and a happy ending.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
I am currently working on a new book entitled “Unpause Your Life: The 7 Key Principles to Tap into the Wealth Inside You.” It is a book about harnessing your power and living your authentic life to get the most out of life you desire, and accomplish your goals. The book delves into how we as a society have created a fake persona on social media and how we idolize the happy stories and the fun we see others having, yet we feel our own lives fall short. The book covers ways to get away from the fake personas and create intimate relationships by finding your true authentic self and your very own tribe. I delve into how people have poor relationships with money and usually use this an excuse to not reach your dreams. It is unique in a sense that it addresses how all real relationships have changed over time with ourselves and how we can create a roadmap to success.
Between work and personal life, the average adult spends nearly 11 hours looking at a screen per day. How does our increasing screen time affect our mental, physical, and emotional health?
11 hours is a lot considering we have 24 total hours and if you reserve 8 for sleep that only leaves 5 actual hours that we are not staring at our phones, laptops or readers and interacting with other actual human beings. In terms of physical issues our necks get curved, backs have issues, we get headaches from the blue lights of the devices and of course our sleep is disturbed. In terms of mental health, depression and anxiety are the main two complaints I hear from clients. Depression around feeling a sense of ‘missing out’ when they see a happy post, a vacation or something going on that they wanted to participate in. Anxiety over missing a post, not getting enough likes or feedback on their own posts and pictures. Along with this in teens and early adults I see low self esteem as their self worth seems tied to their pictures, likes and attention garnered on social media.
Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?
Sure here are my Top 5:
- When you go to a restaurant, make sure all the phones are facedown on the table and do not touch them during the meal. The first person that grabs their phone has to pay the bill. The more people there are, the more fun this activity can be.
- Put your phone in airplane mode over night so that you do not hear all of the pings going off each time you get an email, or a social media post. Also try to not bring the phone to bed and ‘play on Facebook’, seeing the blue light right before bed will disturb your sleeping patterns. If you find yourself answering social media pings and emails late at night or even getting into a debate, your sleep will be compromised. Get the sleep you need and deal with it all tomorrow.
- Limit your time on social media, unless you are working and using it as a marketing tool, set your timer on your phone and allow yourself a 30 minute window twice per day to check social media. Once that time goes off and you have used 30 minutes, then close your social media and put your phone down.
- With technology it is all about the Harm Reduction Method. We need technology in our lives to advance so it is difficult to say ‘well just don’t use it’, because email and access to people has never been more instant or demanding. We love instant gratification and we love the idea to be able to have answers at our fingertips. Plus some jobs require their staff to check email in the evening and on weekends. We need and want to be accessible as our job depends on it.
- Place emphasis with connecting to real people. The next time you want to send a text, pick up the phone and make a call. Force yourself to be more connected to humans and not the impersonal nature of the text or email. Also, plan more time outside in nature doing actual activities as opposed to being behind a screen and living the fantasy life.
51% of Americans say they primarily use their smartphone for calls. With the number of robocalls increasing, what are ways people can limit interruptions from spam calls?
The biggest issue with spam calls is if you don’t recognize the number you don’t have to answer the phone. You can always block the number, but with the robo dialer, they keep calling from various numbers and it is difficult to even pinpoint the actual spam call. You can patch through and ask to be taken off the list and put on the Do Not Call List, but still the calls get through. Unless you use your cell phone for work, I would not answer unknown calls and leave them go to voicemail. This will reduce your stress and time that you are spending wasting with these calls. If you need your cell for work, I recommend getting a second phone line for just work and only answering the calls in a specific time frame or from the numbers you work directly with. If the calls are overwhelming, I would use a 3rd party answering service, such as a Regus front desk for $99 a month that can screen and route appropriate calls direct to your phone.
Between social media distractions, messaging apps, and the fact that Americans receive 45.9 push notifications each day, Americans check their phones 80 times per day. How can people, especially younger generations, create a healthier relationship with social media?
Boundary setting with phones and social media is difficult especially for the generation that was brought up with phones as a staple way to communicate. One suggestion would be to limit the amount of social media apps that we use. Instead of having Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pintrist, pick one and just use that specific app. Also limit texting as it can be misconstrued and misread and multiple texts would need to be sent to convey one specific meaning. This will cut down on the time you spend texting and re texting the information you are trying to convey.
80% of smartphone users check their phones before they brush their teeth in the morning. What effect does starting the day this way have on people? Is there a better morning routine you suggest?
This is akin to watching the news everyday. The news opens with the worst most dramatic events to suck you in and garner viewers as we are attracted to the negative. We can see the same issues and drama now on social media with all the posts. Facebook in particular has become a static therapist, where people post all their problems to garner comments from others in hopes to make themselves feel better. Continually viewing the constant negative drama will make you depressed and cynical.
My suggestion is that you get up, brush your teeth, dress and eat breakfast before you open your social media and emails and begin your day. Think of it as your job. You normally have to get dressed and drive to work, you would not start checking your job duties from home (unless you work from home) so treat your phone like a job. If you work from home, make it a point to check emails only in your office not anyplace else in the house so you have to get up and leave the work environment physically after emails and social media).Also another trick is to turn off the wifi at night and have to reset it the next morning as it takes about 10 minutes to populate and your phone will not work. Give yourself some space from the internet and your head will clear.
Can you please give us your favorite life lesson quote?
My favorite life lesson quote is “Live your authentic truth” That means be yourself and follow our dreams. Be authentic, be real and follow your dreams. Do not let anyone tell you that you can accomplish what you want to do in life. You will soar.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would create a movement that teaches people to believe in themselves, their talents, their achievements and embrace their flaws. It would celebrate that everyone is different, and we do not need to conform to the thoughts or opinions of others and be completely centered in who we are. This would increase self-acceptance and decrease depression, anxiety and all the other mental health disorders we are diagnosing now due to the expectation of whom we are supposed to be and the ideals we are supposed to have. For example, as a society we worship the Kardashians, simply because of the way the look and it is achieved with Botox, plastic surgery and make up. These things are false ideals of how we think we should look and feel. It simply isn’t real. I would start shattering these false realities and work on inner worth not outer appearances.
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