Challenge: A Week of Tech-Life Balance
If you want a week full of mindfulness, unplugging, and a clearer mind, this challenge is just what you need. Five days can make all the difference.
by Susan Reynolds, Co-Founder of LookUp
Mindful Monday Morning
When you wake up think about what you’re grateful for, or looking forward to, or what you want to accomplish that day, rather than instinctively reading a text or an email.
It’s so easy to wake up on a Monday morning, reach for your phone, and shift subconsciously from "weekend mode" to "work mode" without setting your tone for the day. One way to make mornings more mindful is to begin is one of gratitude. When you wake up, think about what you’re grateful for, looking forward to, or what you want to accomplish that day rather than instinctively reading a text or an email. Then notice any differences in your mood and thought patterns throughout the day.
If you want to take this challenge a step further, you can envision the object of your gratitude and spend a few minutes in mindful meditation or quiet solitude. You could even sip your coffee or juice in silence without doing anything but your thoughts. This task is easier said than done. It seems simple, but if you’re used to jumping into the day without taking those few moments with yourself, it may be more challenging than you expect.
Intentional Tech Tuesday
Take a mindful break from your phone or computer today. You can do it once or several times but take at least 5 intentional minutes away from technology today.
One suggestion is when you put your phone down or step away from your computer, go find a quiet place. Sit quietly and look around you. When was the last time you experienced silence, solitude and stillness? Now close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Then your feet on the ground. Then your thoughts. If you get carried away with a thought, notice where it took you. Was it a creative thought that had time to emerge away from other sources. Now bring your attention back to your breath and your feet. Notice any changes that begin to occur during this time. Consider how often you are away from some type of external stimulus during your busy day.
One of the drawbacks of a 24/7 connected life is the lack of opportunity to be alone with ourselves, a time with no external input. When we walk in nature, we often take a phone for GPS directions or to take pictures. When we go for a run, we wear headphones to listen to music or a podcast or check our exercise statistics. When we wait in line, we use the time to catch up on emails and texts.
When you use your phone today, think about your posture, where are your shoulders, are you straining your neck? Sit up. Feel your feel on the floor, your back against the chair or supported by your spine. Where are your hands? Today, be overly aware of your body.
Have you heard of “Tech Neck?” It’s becoming a real thing. How many times have you noticed yourself hunched over your computer or your phone? When you become aware, sit up straight and breathe very deeply. The other problem with using a phone or computer is the way you shorten your breath. When you are not able to take in full breaths, your bring your nervous system on high alert, shortening the rest and relax response that comes from full deep breaths.
Today as you become aware of your physical habits with your phone, take moments to breathe deeply. This is also a great time to take a 5 minute tech break to meditate. The simple act of closing your eyes, feeling your feet and following your breath, resets any tension in your body, and thus your nervous system.
Gratitude reduces stress and is proven to make us happier. Today, take out a journal or open to a fresh page in your notebook and hand write 10 things you’re grateful for.
When you stop to consider what you are grateful for, you bring yourself into the present moment which is said to increase happiness and joy. If you add a splash of gratitude for you day, in that moment, the neuropathways in your brain respond. It’s almost magical.
Oprah Winfrey began keeping a daily gratitude journal and encouraged many others to do the same thing. What if all social media influencers, celebrities whether musicians, gamers, media stars, or revered athletes began to share their gratitude?
If you express gratitude for another, the benefits are amplified. Then if you actually share this gratitude with one you are grateful for their lives are equally enhanced. Many have said that writing a letter and reading it to the person was one of the most meaningful moments of his life.
Today, when you’re talking with a friend consider whether you use texting or face to face more. What would it be like to talk face to face a little more frequently, and text a little less often?
How many times have you been in a conversation with someone about your phone, about people and their phones, or commented that everyone is looking down at their phones? Many people casually say, “I’m so addicted to my phone,” but leave it at that, but what does this actually mean? Did you know that technology companies have hired the best neuroscientists and software engineers to make our devices as “sticky” as possible? Each year they become more adept and successful keeping us hooked. They want our attention and data.
This may sound extreme, but research has proven it is true, and there are many people working to shift the technology companies, but that will take time. Instead, we can become wiser to what they are doing, and begin to take the control back, but it’s really hard to do alone. The first step is to put your phone down and talk to people face to face. Face to face conversations, absent of a phone in sight, deepens the conversation, builds empathy and results in more satisfying and fulfilling time together.
Originally published on Medium.