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What's the first thing you do when you wake up? How about the last thing you do before you go to bed?
A quick survey of a group of friends suggests that most of us check our phone! It seems we cannot be left alone for five waking minutes without seeking a distraction, whether it's sending a text message, checking our social networks, or browsing the latest fluffy celebrity headline. To me it feels unhealthy that we spend most of our time constantly stimulated by our smartphones, computers, televisions, and other gadgets. It's time we enjoy technology as a resourceful tool again, instead of the frivolous recreation that it's become.
Thankfully, I'm not alone in this feeling. A 2012 study by Dr. James Roberts determined that mobile phone use and instant messaging was causing "addictive" tendencies similar to those of substance abuse. Dr. Roberts pointed out that whenever people display addictive behavior, it has negative effects on quality of life. With particular reference to our growing technological reliance, he says "it's an opportunity cost, so we are crowding out so many more important activities, including family and friends and other pursuits, that might bring us true happiness." Here, here!
In light of these findings, I offer five recommendations on how to cut back on overstimulation and increase your natural invigoration:
1. Treat meal time as sacred, because it is!
That means no television dinners or lunches ala desko. Go outside, breathe fresh air, chew consciously and truly enjoy your food. Need I remind you to keep your phone off the table, ESPECIALLY in the presence of company? There's nothing worse than a personal conversation being interrupted by beeps and ringtones.
2. Quiet your mind.
The most effective way to do this is through meditation. Take time to pause, switch off and clear your thoughts. What's more, do things you enjoy that allow you to "switch off." For me, it's cooking — nothing else matters when I'm in the kitchen.
3. Do one thing at a time and focus on the task at hand.
I know we love the notion of multi-tasking, but if you've set a task to exercise or clean the bathroom, don't let yourself become side-tracked by getting sucked into checking Instagram or sending that "quick" email.
4. Set yourself time windows and curfews for checking emails and social media.
Perhaps you could limit yourself to getting online during certain hours of the day only. Try setting a curfew so that you don't use any technology for at least two hours before bedtime (including TV). This will most certainly ensure a better sleep.
5. Don't be afraid to liberate yourself.
You can free yourself from technology's clutches by leaving your phone at home sometimes, sleeping with your phone switched off, not answering your emails for a day, missing an episode of your favorite TV show, neglecting social websites for a week.
Achieving true mind, body, spirit balance is nearly impossible when we're too artificially stimulated. Because of all these readily available distractions, it can get tough to stay focused on what's real. It helps to imagine all the untapped opportunities we could gain if we met someone new, appreciated nature's beauty, or savored the taste of our meal. If we could all just log off for a moment!
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