Many of us are dependent on our phones for social connection, work, entertainment, to get us from A to B and as a command centre for our busy lives. I'm sure I did not come up with the term technology fatigue but it did pop into my head a few years ago when I suddenly became aware how frazzled I felt on days when I had spent many hours using my smart phone, and then more hours in front of my laptop. My brain felt exhausted and overstimulated but my body felt completely the opposite. Being in front of a screen for so many hours meant that I was not spending enough time outside, walking, thinking, enjoying nature, experiencing things in the ways you only can when you switch off from technology.
I am always careful to catch myself when I start on a "things were better when I was young" rant. It's not necessarily true, and I have to remember all the positive ways technology has contributed to our lives. But I do worry about the growing tendency for people to use their phone or device for distraction and avoidance of boredom or discomfort, or even other people. It's staggering to me to watch people instantly turn to their phones when there are even five minutes of potential down time.
Here are the benefits of taking time out from technology throughout the day:
1) You will be more aware of your surroundings and will notice little things that you would miss if you were staring at a screen. This allows curiosity and a sense of connectedness to develop. It also allows for spontaneous human interactions.
2) Your brain will have time to process without being bombarded with a constant stream of information - this could lead to creative solutions to problems, day dreaming, reflecting.
3) You will potentially experience some emotion. This is important! If we distract from our emotions, they are still affecting us but we can't easily work out what's going on. For example, if you've ever snapped at someone for something small they said and wondered why, it may be because you have been distracting from your emotions and have not met your own needs.
4) Your anxiety will lessen. The fast pace of modern communication is staggering but can really exacerbate anxiety. You'll have experienced this if you've ever sent a text or email and then wondered (less than 5 minutes later) why the other person has not responded. But it's important to mention that devices/technology are addictive, so before anxiety lessens it may temporarily get worse (see gradual steps to tech-free time below).
To have a go at getting more control over this modern phenomenon, take this challenge. I do it too, and sometimes I really have to force myself to do it. I have never had a negative experience.
Go to a public place, a park, a coffee shop, a library and find a place to sit and just observe. Switch off your phone/device and put it completely out of sight. Challenge yourself to just sit for 5 minutes doing absolutely nothing other than observing what's around you. Focus on your breathing, notice what sensations come up in your body. You're not bothering anyone, just notice what happens. If that becomes easy, increase the time to 10-15 minutes or for as long as you like. I encourage you to try not to busy yourself with other things, drawing, reading, writing - you can do those after your observation time is up.
Regular practice of this challenge will reduce stress, increase self-awareness and boost your mood. If you need support with how to feel more in control of your use of technology please contact me.
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!