Mindfulness and technology

Enjoy this monthly mindfulness post from Dave Johnson, PhD, CNS- BC, LMFT, Employee Assistance Specialist.

The velocity of change has increased, and so has the demand on our capacity to be resilient. Stress and electronics interfere when they overwhelm the human system. When we lose sleep or have difficulty getting back to sleep, when it interferes with our relationships, we’re consumed by our monkey minds and we are anything but present. We recognize that our electronic devices, which can help us navigate a challenging world and workplace, can also become a barrier.

Mindfulness is the ability to be aware of what’s taking place in real time and tune into when we’re being hijacked. It’s the notion of noticing, through our senses, what sparks within when a piece of information comes into our space. Maybe it’s a text message that makes our heart race, or a social media post that makes us clench our jaw. Mindfulness calls us to let go. Rejuvenate. It’s the ability to notice where our body is keeping score and how we’re letting it go moment by moment.

One thing that happens with emails and texts in particular, is that we often get lost inside our thinking and overthinking brain. We start a narrative or dialogue with what our response should be or how we think they’ll respond, and suddenly, we’re off into a feud. We start clicking and scrolling and before we realize it, we’ve lost 45 minutes and we’re nowhere near where we started.

One suggestion is to turn your tech off and leave it off for periods of time, especially before sleep. You can also detach and go for a walk in nature. Go be with the trees for a while, or read a book, or write in a journal.

When it all gets to be too much, you have to ask yourself if you have control. We obsess and ruminate about things over which we have no control. If the answer is no, then make a conscious decision not to give it energy.

Delete is a powerful way of saying, I can cut this out. I can delete it. It’s about all of the things the system is preventing you from doing. If you delete your electronic devices for some time, you’re more apt to be present to people near and dear to you.

Recognize the ability to end the task at the end of the work day. Acknowledge that you are finished with your job for the day and now you’re going home, and that’s where you need to be. It’s a different task. You’ve moved onto a new beginning. Tech has a digital nervous system, but humans do, too, and we need to be able to turn it off as well as turn it on.

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