Setting Healthy Boundaries With Technology
Lately I’ve been a little frazzled sans cell phone and internet connection. The whole experience has me unglued and unhinged. The feeling of being disconnected has the Twilight Zone theme running through my head as I type. I’m pacing around in a frenzy trying to restore order in the universe by retrieving my cell and getting back online and plugged into the interwebs. Prior to this unfortunate turn of events I had always fancied myself as something of a naturalist shunning many of the conveniences and luxuries of the modern technologically oriented way of life. I even prided myself on the fact that had an event like this were to occur I would be immune to any adverse unintended negative consequences.
The irony is that I consider myself to be enlightened and in tune with the natural harmony of the Earth, yet clearly still susceptible to these frenzied maniacal states. I can only imagine how something like this would affect someone who’s world revolves around their smartphone and internet connection. The people who I see oblivious to the world around them submerged in their social media sensationalism.
The first thing my girlfriend does after waking up is check her social media and emails while still in bed. This sets the tone for the rest of the day and she can be seen incessantly checking the same applications all day and night long. There is no reprieve from the vicious onslaught. It is an interminable barrage of email after email and addictive social media ogling.
If this type of monkey mind seems familiar to you here a few ways you can combat it and come out stronger.
Step 1: Shift your mindset and set intention. Substituting the degenerate behavior with more intelligent edifying pursuits such as building better interpersonal relationships. Devote more time to unplugging and sitting in silence. Meditation is a wonderful stress management technique that has profound impacts on our cognitive function. Similarly, any creative outlet of expression like painting or writing impacts the brain positively. Mark on your calendar time for such activities before and after work in order to maximize your productivity.
Step 2: Allocate specific times of the day for social media. Everyone has a different way of doing it but the idea is to be functional and efficient. Instead of checking sporadically throughout the day try to check once in the morning and then again at night. Dedicate enough time as it takes to respond and check all your emails and social media feed. There will undoubtedly be those days when you simply don’t have enough time to do it all and that is just fine, relax and regroup tomorrow is another day.
Step 3: Set phone to sleep mode or do not disturb. Resist the urge to make it harder on yourself by deactivating your cell phone notifications and shut off all electronics before bed. The blue light emanated from computer and TV screens interferes with your REM or deep sleep cycle keeping you awake in a heightened sensory response.
Set it and forget about it and don’t preoccupy your mind with thoughts of what you may have missed in that brief time interval. This is your time to decompress and transition into your own version of sleep mode so you can recharge and rejuvenate.
Step 4: Distance yourself from the temptation. Out of sight out of mind. Keep the cellphone away from your immediate surroundings when in technology detox mode. It does no good to have the offender hanging out in plainview on your nightstand in the evening baiting you.
The goal is to significantly reduce the amount of idle time squandered on the smartphone and mindless media. Our attitude and perspective needs to change regarding technology and we need to set healthy boundaries. The cellphone is a device and not the center of our entire universe.
Step 5: Observe your feelings. Practicing mindfulness and gratitude can help keep you going down the right path. Do you feel an inner peace and contentment from no longer being fixated to your phone? Is there a backlash from your friends and family who don’t understand your sudden urge to unplug and detach? Notice when you experience the onset of anxiety or stress. You can override your mind into bypassing and circumventing these unpleasant emotional reactions. How does this feel in your body and what thoughts does it conjure and elicit? Being acutely aware of your settings and notice small subtle nuances you didn’t before. There are miracles waiting to occur if we could just set the phone down long enough to receive them.