You’re not alone
Feel like you’re running ever faster, just to stand still? Feeling like your time and energy are being eroded (and you’re not even sure where the time and energy went to)? Then you’re not alone.
We’re bombarded and overloaded with information (much of it not actually genuinely useful, productive or nurturing). More and more of our valuable time is offered up to a digital lifestyle (and, for some, a digital addiction). This is a combination of conscious choice (welded to our mobiles; playing video games, web surfing, texting and messaging, uploading photos of an experience rather than actually experiencing it); perceived necessity (checking work emails at all hours) and the unconscious and constant soaking up of the information overload that permeates our day.
In this increasingly “connected world’, many are more disconnected than they have ever been – disconnected, to varying degrees, from partners and family, their environment, their work, themselves and the moment to moment experience that carries the richness and learning of life. We are often choosing to use digital tools and media as a conscious choice to distract ourselves from ‘real life’. In this respect, we are losing the opportunities to fully engage with the moments of real life (including the challenging ones) that are so essential for our growth - and the enhancement of our skills to more skillfully navigate through life, with ever-greater ease, balance, fulfillment and happiness.
Every bit of information, no matter how trivial, has to be processed by our brains and that processing competes for limited resources and energy. We have limits on what we can pay conscious attention to at any moment - and attention, and how we apply it, is our most essential resource. Our attentional ability is weakening (not surprising when the average employee checks 40 websites daily, switches activities 37 times an hour and changes focus every two minutes).
The present moment is the only moment we have
Conscious attention to the moment, moment by moment, is the foundation of Mindfulness & Meditation practices – combined with how we apply this attention and how we grow from it. The present moment is the only moment we have (past moments are gone and future moments are just possibilities – we live in the ‘Now’ although many people default to ‘auto-pilot’ mode, with their minds sucked into the past or their perceived future - and away from the present.
Experience the benefits of doing a digital detox
Learning to live Mindfully; to be in the moment with balance, whatever that moment is and to learn how to skillfully respond to the moment and our internal and external engagement with the world, is an immensely valuable opportunity offered by a digital detox. There are other benefits including improved sleep (95% of people use some form of electronics in the hour before bed. Artificial light from screens suppresses melatonin, the sleep hormone, by up to 22%, negatively impacting sleep, brain function, performance and mood), reduced stress, greater energy, improved performance, enhanced creativity, reduced eyesight strain, less headaches, better memory, concentration and focus, improved relationships and communication and even improved posture (less ‘text neck’ strain on the spine).
How can we ‘digitally detox’? It is probably no surprise that it can be a little challenging and disconcerting to switch off, for many people, even for a few moments (let alone a day or longer). One key approach is to actually feel and experience the benefits of doing it (and you will) – so the ‘in at the deep end’ approach is the best - by just going for it. Willpower is another limited resource, so my strong recommendation is to treat yourself to a proper digital detox event, in a venue and with people that best facilitate and support you to switch off – a venue that also offers wonderful alternatives to a screen-based life.
My parting recommendation is that you combine a digital detox with the opportunity to include some meditation and mindfulness learning. The benefits are immense and you will truly be pleased you did.
By Stuart Bold - Mindfulness and Meditation Expert