The media detox – Clearing out clutter to clear out your mind

In my office, I discuss the connection to stress and a “busy mind” quite a lot. A majority of my patients tell me they are not stressed, but they are chronically tired and run down, with many surgically attached to their mobile phones for work or home responsibilities. 

This past week I was on vacation, and before leaving, I decided to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, and to take a break from e-mail. It was eye-opening in many aspects…

The first 24-hours

Definitely, this was a detox. I kept thinking I needed to check my e-mail, and wondering what time it was. My hands were fidgeting, and I felt anxious. Almost like I was missing a part of myself. Agitation and anxiety were definitely at the forefront of my experience.  Minus the nausea, not really that different from giving up sugar for a week!

What if I miss something? What if something is wrong and someone is trying to get in contact with me?

Knowing there was no crisis (and indeed there would be if I did check my e-mail due to roaming charges!), I took many, many deep breaths and focused on where I was.

24 hours to 72 hours

The realization that my present experience was in fact, much better, than checking my phone. No desire to check my phone, and loving the experiences, people and places I was in, I started to feel much more connected to the now that we all talk about, that I preach about, that is in fact, available to us all the time. My body was more relaxed, I felt my sense of  humour and sense of self returning in ways that vacations do provide, but more than that, I didn’t feel like I was “missing out”. What is to miss when you are living fully in each moment?

72 hours-home

I can definitely live without my phone, Facebook, 200+ e-mail newsletters and updates, and dread in my belly arising as I realize I must engage with all of that chatter on my return. Major realization: I get overstimulated by all of that contact. It is much too much for me personally, and I should give myself permission to disconnect.

What did I learn?

We are entirely too dependent on our connection to technology. This is not to say we need to ditch everything and the ease of living it brings to us, but it’s no wonder we can’t relax and there is so much anxiety and stress. Can you truly relax in the evening when you are in fact, still working or connected to 300+ people that you know on social media? Connection in the flesh cannot be substitute for a virtual connection. Our minds and bodies know the difference, and it’s only upon slowing down that we can truly be aware.

Your fall challenge

I challenge you to the following, and notice how you feel:

  1. Ditch your phone as soon as you get home on the evening. If your hands start to feel fidgety, get up and do something physical. Anything. Start ironing that pile of clothes on the ironing board or bake something in the kitchen. Move your body, not your hands.
  2. Leave your phone at home when you go out for weekend adventures or errands. Do you think it’s really that important to know where your friend Sarah had lunch at noon? Not really. If you want to know, pick up the phone and call her later!
  3. Commit to reconnecting with your hobbies. Love reading? Borrow a book from the library (yes, they really still exist) and get something to enjoy. Take up a new class – painting, yoga, weight lifting, anything that engages you.
  4. Contact your friends and family and meet up with them in the flesh. You really can’t replace virtual connection with physical connection.
  5. If you truly want to read something on the internet (a blog you like, recipes you like) then look them up on the computer, and print them out. Use the internet and its wealth of knowledge as you need to, but not to replace your own thoughts and brain.

I’m curious to see how you do with any of these. Even one attempt of the list above can be beneficial.

Reminder: we are here for a human experience, and the more we allow ourselves to experience it, the more we will actually experience living. Your body will thank you for it!

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