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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