Digital Obsession: Disconnect and Turn Inward

With the invention of the smart phone came the immediacy of digital communication, via emails, texts, and calls. At the first bing of a message, many people reach for their phones. They often lose sight of where they are and who they are with when that message comes through. Where it used to be that we responded to messages only while sitting in front of our computers, smart phones have made it possible to work from virtually anywhere at anytime. While this is a great technological advancement, taking a moment before responding has become an insult to the receiver who is awaiting a prompt response. Waiting also buries that message under the multitude of messages that follow, making it necessary to respond to messages and calls right away.

While we have fond memories of the “good ‘ol days,” landlines, dinner table communication, and face-to-face meetings have gone by the way of the dinosaurs. We are living in a world of heightened expectations and immediate responses, and stress levels are on the rise.

Kids as young as 2 or 3 are given ipads or cell phones to distract them, while older–but still little–kids are becoming socially aware much earlier due to their exposures to social media outlets. Many people–kids and adults alike–click their phones multiple times a day to see how many “likes” a new photo received, or wait in anticipation as their number of subscribers rises. On one hand, it’s fun. But on another, it’s just part of the larger picture. Our society is completely digitally obsessed.

We live in a world where over-scheduling has become the norm. But unfortunately this “norm” comes with a price. Lack of sleep, depression, failing relationships, and anxiety are just a few negative consequences to “burning the candle at both ends.” In a society that is so connected, how do we begin to disconnect?

Try these tips:

1. Turn It Off at Night! If you must leave it on, don’t keep it in your bedroom. Make a house rule that all phones stay downstairs at night.

2. Unplug and Recharge. Give yourself at least 30 minutes per day to get off the phone and into the real world. Enjoy walking in Nature, talking with a friend, playing with your children–make the most of face-to-face time.

3. Technology-Free Meals. Set another house rule: no phones during dinner (or breakfast or lunch!) and stick with it. Enjoy sharing stories about your day and talking about things that truly matter. Follow the same rule while out with friends. Why make plans to visit with friends if you’re distracted and on a smart phone?

4. It’s All About Balance. Technology is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, in becoming digitally obsessed, we have lost our balance. Think about your day. Is technology an absolute must all day long, or can you make some cuts?

5. Turn Inward. We spend so much of our day outward-based, that we forget what it means to take care of ourselves. Think about what makes your spirit sing. What makes you feel happy and relaxed? Is it time alone at night? Take it! Is it drinking a hot cup of coffee without any interruptions? Make it happen. Is it Qigong or another energy practice? Make it part of your daily routine. Notice how you feel after making these small, daily changes. When you start feeling overwhelmed, add another inward change to your day.