In todays world we are constantly connected and plugged in to EVERYTHING that is happening around us. We don’t miss a hot news topic, a funny video, an honest meme or work email. Many of us walk around ALL DAY with our phones on our body. We start our days by instinctually checking the weather when we first wake up. Some of us (I do this sometimes!) will lie in bed scrolling through our social media feeds to take tabs on who is doing what, what their breakfast looks like or an inspiration quote that finds its way to motivate us.
Next we throw on clothes, feed those that we are responsible for and most likely continue to scroll on your phone as you mindlessly scarf down a bowl of cereal. Getting into the car, the phone connects to navigation & music dashboard, giving endless tunes, podcasts, flashback songs from the 90s and sometimes a snap chat filter while sitting in heavy traffic.
There is most likely a span of 15 minutes while you walk from your car, through the parking lot, and into your office where you will spend the next 9 hours staring at a computer screen, working through your work specific tech programs and corresponding to colleagues through email and instant messenger. Scrolling again through lunch, which you most likely eat while sitting at your desk. At the end of the day, we may run errands using a convenient app or head to the gym with head phones to block out the world while you power through reps. Home again. Dinner, perhaps a conversation with those you love, a tv show that you never miss and 3 other DVR shows that you missed. Then back in bed, where you may scroll again until you fall asleep.
As I sit here writing this post, stunned at level that some of us (most of us) are plugged into ALL DAY LONG. Technology has made so many things in our life easier but has it replaced genuine human connection? Does it stand in the way of you being aware of you & your surroundings?
I am on the fence about loving/hating technology (I love all my apple products & am using them for work, writing my blog, social media and weather checking…all the time). BUT then there is another part of me that hates how technology has taken over and I crave that connection with another person. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. We didn’t have cell phones. (In fact my dad had a car phone that had a spiral cord and a big box that sat between the seats.) I remember going to McDonalds as a kid and everyone rushing to the drive thru window to check out this “car phone” that my dad had! I got my first cell phone in college and there was no such thing as texting. In fact, I had a landline telephone in my bedroom to stay connected to friends and dial up internet to do projects with school. AOL instant messenger was the thing but social media was just beginning. (Thankfully my college years were not captured my myspace, facebook or instagram).
Americans do what???
I recently heard a statistic that stunned me (of course while scrolling through social media). According to recent studies, Americans check their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & other social medias 17 TIMES A DAY!!!!! 17!!!! They also stated that ADULTS between the ages of 25-54 were among the highest users of social media. (Can’t blame this one on the kids) (source).
D0 you realize that number counts for a 1/3 of our time? This article goes on to state that America isn’t even at the forefront of leading the world in this statistic, however we surpassed by leaps and bounds in data consumption. And get this!! Digital Trends calculated that an average American will spent 4.5 hours on their phones A DAY!!!
Is anyone speechless? Now before you pledge to put down the smart phone forever, lets consider when you are doing most of this “scrolling”, “surfing”, “video watching”, Live feeds or hash tagging. Most of us do it during our downtime, but do we really need this much?
I suggest that you DISCONNECT. Not forever. Not for a New Year’s Resolution but just as a good practice to get the focus back where it belongs- on you and your loved ones.
I tried this last week. I was feeling overwhelmed by a busy week at my job and then coming home to mindlessly scrolling through junk. My body felt tense and uptight. I had knots in my shoulders and my nerves were on edge throughout my whole body. I needed a “re-set button”. So I laid down on my yoga mat and put my phone on DND. I will admit that I use apps on my phone for some guided meditations (check out Insight Timer if you haven’t yet!) but when doing this, I always turn my phone on Airplane mode or DND.
As I first laid down, I felt on edge and wanted to just lie there and numbly look at other posts or articles. At that time, Meditation was the last thing that I wanted to do, which typically means I need it more than ever at that time!
The first five minutes were difficult. My reflexes wanted to jump out of the uncomfortable position I was in and just be done with it. But I sat through that feeling and allowed it to pass. I then followed the guided meditation (I LOVE Tara Brach) and relaxed every zone of my body by recognizing my breath and allowing space for those muscles to relax. At the end of 30 minutes I didn’t want the moment to end. I felt weightless, floating above my mat in complete relaxation but total awareness. My body no longer buzzed with frenzy and my mind was focused. Simple and most importantly, it was calm. It was the best 30 minutes that I had spent all week.
Are you up for the challenge?
So my challenge to your this week is to find ways that you can disconnect and reset from your plugged in lifestyle. Turn the phone on DND or just leave the phone behind. Take a walk, head to the gym, play with your children, talk and actively listen to your partner. Sure the first few days will be hard and you will find yourself reaching for your phone to pacify your scattered mind. But allow those moments to pass (and no judgment if this is particularly difficult). It can be incredible how a disconnect can help you RECONNECT with those around you and more importantly, your self.
Tips for Disconnecting
- Declare a time of day that you will not pick up your smart phone
- Have a rule of no phones or TV during dinner
- Silence those devices during this time
- Designiate 1 or 2 times per day that you will allow yourself to check social media
- Don’t check email past 7pm
- Keep your phone out of your bedroom. Oh,You use it for an alarm so you HAVE TO HAVE IT? Get a alarm clock. They work great and they are $5 bucks. You will sleep better & be able to be more intimate with your partner
- When going out with your friends, everyone put their phone in the middle of the table, silenced, face down. The person who reaches in first must buy a round of drinks or an app for the table.
- SnapChat is oh so fun… and I love making those videos with the filters, but once you have 1 or 2 stories on your newsfeed of the event – try actually hanging out with your friends or family, instead of being focused on narrating your snaps or IG posts.
- Be in the Moment. Remember all the ways to be present from last week (read here)
Now is the time (because you have time) to start something you have wanted to try. Paint a picture. Start a craft. Do a yoga routine. Talk to a friend, with your voice and in person if you are able (if not, call them in the old school way).
I have slowed down on my social media usage tremendously over the weekend. And in all that free time I picked up my guitar and learned 4 new songs, cooked healthy meals, had engaging genuine conversations with a date and neither of us looked at our phones all night. Somewhere in all that free time, I made space for myself to reconnect with my own needs.
Please come back and share with us (in your designated web time), how your disconnect help you to reconnect with yourselves and others!
As always, Much Metta,