By Paul V Boyd
Reducing stress in the non-stop digital age can be quite a challenge to a happy life balance!
The information age is truly inspiring! never before in the history of the world has so much information been so accessible. In the middle ages if you were caught with a printing press (the i-pad of the 1500’s) you could be tried for treason. Information is power and still to this day many countries do everything in their power to slow down the tide of information and communication. At your fingertips you have now have the power understand the world or organize large groups for a cause in 140 characters or less!
Alas, most of us are too consumed by an endless barrage of e-mail, addictive Facebook posting, music, videos, instant messages, Skyping with long lost friends, cats playing pianos and Charlie biting his finger to change the world. But this site is not about changing the world, just ourselves. Now I’m not saying any of this i-fun is bad, but all of it all the time is! When we become consumed and addicted by external stimulus in this form we lose inward thinking. Breaking this addiction needs to be at the top of the list for anyone looking to live a truly happy life.
Here is my recipe for digital moderation:
Most important!- turn off the work e-mail when you are not at work: E-mail has made it way to easy for the boss to invade into your home life. I would jump like a Pavlovian dog every time my e-mail alert rang. I had to check it. And when I did, it was always something that seemed urgent, and so I would answer it so I could be in peace. Then came the follow-ups. I’d spend my nights and weekends with the boss consuming half of my mental energy. I was driving myself and my family crazy! And the more I answered the more they would invade. Dinner time, during Sunday football (sacrilege!) anytime was fair game. But what could I do? If I stopped, how could they function, If I stopped they would fire me! Well I did stop and guess what? Nothing happened. The world kept turning, the office didn’t explode and I made a huge step forward in reducing my stress and living a happy life. Now I check and answer e-mails right before I leave work, and check and answer first thing when I get in, And only once during the day. The freedom this gave me was amazing, and my family appreciates my extra attention. Remember: Everything can wait until Monday!
Turn off your cell phone at a certain time everyday: For me it’s dinner time. The phone goes on silent and on the charger before dinner and stays off until the morning. Only my family and friends have the house number and now they know to call it if they need me at night. I take it a step further, the phone stays in the house when I go to the gym… this is solitude time.
Limit the Facebook time: I love Facebook but all things in moderation.
Spend an Hour a day with your thoughts: This may be the most tragic consequence of the digital age. We are becoming afraid of time with our thoughts. Test yourself: Do you try to fill every free second you have by checking your phone or i-pad? I bet you do it more than you think! It is an absolute habit of all truly happy people to spend a little time each day alone with your thoughts. This can be through mediation or just thoughtful reflection but spending a little time within your own head will reduce stress, help you sleep better and allows the brain time to organize, problem solve and rest. Quieting you mind on a daily basis will make you happier… I guarantee it!
Avoid the APP temptation: Sure angry birds is fun, but too much is a bad thing. Scientists at the University of Michigan have shown that constant stimuli fatigues the brain and reduces processing power, so although it feels like its relaxing and reduces stress, you will likely be more stressed and irritable when you get home if you spend the train ride gaming. Enjoy the view, spark up a conversation with a stranger… you’ll be smarter for it, and you’ll find the elusive happy life balance in the digital age!
Have a happy day!
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