April is Stress Awareness Month and while we all know that stress can wreak havoc on you physically and emotionally, there is much that can be done to mitigate it’s damages.
For once, I’m not going to get all science nerdy on you. There’s tons of information out there on the effects of stress, the types of stress and why stress makes us so sick, as well as what you can do about it. And meditation is usually at the top of the list, so if that’s not something you’re already doing, become a Mindful Café Community Member and join us for some group meditation.
But I want to talk about something different today. I want to talk about the use of technology and how it may be contributing to your stress. Now you might think it’s ironic to use technology to talk about how technology is stressing us out, but I’ve come to realize that that is not the case. There is nothing inherently stressful about technology, it’s just technology. In fact, technology has brought many benefits and improvements to our lives. The key lies in how we use it, what we do with it, how we relate to it.
Let’s face it, our smart phones are designed to hook you. Those incessant beeps and bells and buzzers? They trick the brain into believing we need more of them. When we talk about someone being “addicted to their phone,” that is quite literally the case. We seek out those pleasurable experiences those sounds bring – a text coming in, or a new post for example. Oops, I’m starting down the science nerd path.
Anyway, the point is, you may be using your phone or other devices in a way that is adding to your already stressful day. I’m not saying to give up Facebook, and you don’t have to stop scouring Pinterest for the perfect recipe, I just want to give you some ideas that will lessen the stress. The overriding theme here is to use your technology in a (you guessed it) MINDFUL way and you might just find your life is a little more calm. I mean how many times have you said “I just wish there were more hours in the day”? Here’s your way to create that time.
Ten Ideas to Reduce your Technology Stress
As often as possible, I use Saturday to take a break from technology, so you might find that I don’t reply to emails then quite as quickly. It’s a good reminder that there is life beyond Apple.
Use that hour before bed to put aside your devices. It will give your mind a time to wind down and will probably help you sleep better. And don’t even get me started on blue light.
When you eat, eat
When you’re eating and texting at the same time, mindfulness goes out the window. Not to mention how impolite it is if you’re doing so while sharing a meal with someone. And speaking of being impolite … for pity’s sake, don’t take the phone in to the bathroom with you.
Climb the Highest Mountain
Or at least get far away from civilization. You probably won’t have any cell service so you’ll actually be forced to enjoy yourself!
If you feel like you just can’t live without your cell phone, start with small doses, then slowly bump it up. For instance, just turning it off during mealtime is a great start. You don’t have to go cold turkey.
Turn off notifications
As I mentioned, those sounds that come from your devices are one of the main factors in creating that addiction. Take away those notifications, and you take away what the brain perceives as rewards.
Use technology to limit technology
Try one of these apps that help you to limit your screen time.
Plan it out
When you feel the urge to mindlessly reach for technology for no particular reason, have a plan in place to distract you with a healthy activity. Walking, crossword puzzles, reading a book or working a jigsaw puzzle come to mind.
Out of sight, out of mind
You don’t always have to keep your devices right by your side. Put them somewhere you can’t easily reach for it, like on the other side of the room. You’re less likely to constantly check it if you have to get up to do so.
Don’t get caught up in the drama that is social media
Be mindful of who you follow, how you comment and what you post. Remember that algorithms sort posts based on what you want to see. And they get that based on your engagement. So if you engage in crap, that’s what you’ll get. If you engage in interesting, educational, positive messages, that’s what you’ll see. And for some reason, it’s easier to get sucked in to controversy than harmony.
And there you have it. If nothing else, try out some of these ideas just as a way to check in on your level of technology dependence. Nothing to lose, and a whole to gain, like time for instance.