Recently I was invited to an event that sent chills down my spine—it made me so uneasy, in fact, that I almost didn’t show up. Here’s what haunted me. The host had sent invitations via a popular app. All the pertinent information was included, time, location, attire—but when I scrolled down to the the bottom of the page I was instantly anxious when I realized, hidden guest list.
Years ago, I would have received a paper invitation in the mail and wouldn’t give much thought to who was attending the party. But years ago we were prepared to go with the flow, to be flexible, to handle the unknown. Now? We may decline a party invitation simply because we can’t mentally prepare for the social mix.
The upside of technology? We have access to more information than ever—we are rarely left to guess, rarely left in the dark, on anything. The downside? We’re almost paralyzed when we are. More and more we find ourselves anxious, unable to process disappointment. More and more we don’t know how to handle a curveball—professionally or in our personal lives. And if we can’t find the answer or solution at our fingertips, we’re not really sure where else to look for peace amidst unknown circumstances.
On top of this, our anxiety builds as we continue to look to technology to solve our problems, or at least ease our emotional pain. We’ve all found ourselves drifting to social media to distract ourselves from a heavy day. We’ve all been guilty of compulsively checking news, emails, and updates on our phones, because it’s easier to take in information than it is feel our real feelings, sort through our stressors, and let our bodies, minds, and souls connect.
All these advances and apps are meant to lighten our load, but somehow they just leave us feeling heavy, drained, and distracted. There’s no denying that in a lot of ways our smart phones make our lives easier and more productive—I’m not about to part with mine! Still, we can’t live like this, run down, jaws clenched, worries never lingering too far away. We need a bit of a detox. We need to make some intentional changes. We need to reclaim our energy, focus, and peace.
First, let’s start small. We have a tendency to try to make big dramatic changes—they make us feel excited and bold and daring, but unfortunately these types of changes don’t often stick. You know what does? Something small, doable. Something where we can build momentum, find success and be motivated by it.
And you know what? All those small daily decisions may not seem impressive on their own, but they can add up to some significant life change because we’re more likely to keep going. We’re more likely to meet our goals. And we’re more likely to see positive results from a long-term change than we are a big dramatic burst that fizzles out after a few days.
What small change will you make? Maybe you’ll choose certain hours when you don’t allow yourself to browse social media. Maybe you’ll commit to leaving your phone in the kitchen starting at 7PM. Maybe you’ll switch your phone to airplane mode when out with friends or family. Choose something small, and commit to at least three weeks before you reevaluate.
Second, let’s create new habits. More than 40% of what we do in a day is based on habit—more than half of what we do is essentially done on autopilot! As we release bad tech habits that leave us stressed and distracted, let’s develop habits of wholeness that bring peace, focus, and renewed energy.
Do you find yourself popping Instagram open whenever you feel stressed? Instead of numbing ourselves with a screen, when our thumb hovers over that app let’s use it as a reminder to click off our phones and list five things we’re grateful for that day.
Do you compulsively check email or read the news whenever you have a few moments of down time? Whether we’re waiting for a meeting to begin, standing in line, or re-warming our coffee, we have a tendency to fill every spare minute with technology. Let’s free our minds—give ourselves some space. Instead of consuming more and more information at every break, let’s choose a few go-to responses to down-time that will give our minds and hearts time to wander. Let’s keep a simple journal nearby to jot down thoughts, step outside for a short walk, run through a short series of stretches.
Let’s start today. Let’s make the small changes, create the new habits.
We’ll discover that the best version of ourselves isn’t hidden behind a screen.