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Plugged In…Stressed Out: How to Decompress in a Wired World

Plugged In…Stressed Out: How to Decompress in a Wired World

Emails. Texts. Tweets. Facebook posts. LinkedIn connections. Pinterest. IPhones. IPods. IPads. No time to chat? Tweet it or text it. With one keystroke, we can be anywhere, do anything, and connect with anyone. But is it costing us?

Current research suggests that techno geeks and screen addicts all over the globe are spending about 18 hours per week tethered to networking devices; a drastic rise since 2000 when a mere 2.7 hours a week was reportedly spent. Studies also show that the constant stimulation of a mind always in motion changes how the brain processes information.

The multitasking ability that technology has afforded us has blurred the boundaries between work, leisure, relationships, and real life. Technology has promised to maximize our time with the advent of iPhones synced to our computers and tablets we can carry on the go, but the real question is…What are we making more time for?

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Technology is a wonderful thing, but if you’re finding yourself stressed out, overwhelmed or addicted to always being “plugged in” here is a prescription for getting back in the real game of life:

Start noticing

Have a get real with yourself talk. No one has to tell you if you’re spending too much time “plugged in”—- you know. Notice how sitting at the computer for hours makes you feel physically. Scan your body for tension and stress. Sitting for hours a day at a computer can make your muscles feel achy. That may be a signal you need to get up and start moving.

Put your smartphone to bed without you

Swedish researchers found that using electronic devices too much before bedtime can make it hard to wind down and sleep. There were also links to stress overload depression and insomnia in the study. If you want a good night’s sleep, take a break, from your computer and mobile devices.

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Get down and dirty

Get outside. Breathe the fresh air. Get into the woods. Spend some conscious dedicated time to playing outdoors. And leave your cell phone home! Most of us spend so much time hooked up behind a desk, we’re spending less and less time in the sunshine and fresh air; thus the epidemic vitamin D deficiency we’re seeing in U.S. adults.

Get naked

If you’re a walker, runner, hiker, or biker, make a point to shed your electronic devices so that you can actually focus on nature. That’s right, no iPod, and no iPhone. If you’re outside, spend time really enjoying nature. Soak in the sights around you. Take time to let you’re your mind decompress and be still. Give yourself time to think.

Connect with someone real

We were made for relationships—real ones. Many screen addicts’ live virtual lives with people they don’t really know, or they create virtual worlds they think will satisfy only to feel more estranged and lonely. Try ditching your virtual life for the real thing. Have a conversation. Laugh. Cry. Be real. It’s great medicine for the soul.

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Take five

Start by taking five minutes a day to reduce stress. Get up. Get out, and get moving. If you’re at work, take your coffee outside and walk on your break. Sit outside on your lunch hour. Schedule vacation time away and be intentional about it. Plan some long weekends to get away and leave your computer at home. Be intentional about taking breaks from your electronic devices.

We all know the Leave It to Beaver life of the 1950’s is gone forever, but isn’t it nice to remember the days when you could walk across the street, drop in on your neighbor without calling or texting and have a cup of coffee and chat?

Technology has promised us more time, but has it delivered? Or has it drawn us deeper and deeper into the bottomless abyss of cyberspace where more time means more time to devote to machines instead of people?

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Most of us would agree the benefits of technology have been astounding, but even too much of a good thing can be risky business. Start today, commit to unplug and unwind.

Back at you: Has the cyberspace world we live in created more or less stress in your life? What are you doing to decompress and unplug?

Featured photo credit:  Pretty young woman standing against sky via Shutterstock

More by this author

Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on November 20, 2018

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

10 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

A new year beautifully symbolizes a new chapter opening in the book that is your life. But while so many people like you aspire to achieve ambitious goals, only 12% of you will ever experience the taste of victory. Sound bad? It is. 156 million people (that’s 156,000,000) will probably give up on their resolution before you can say “confetti.” Keep on reading to learn why New Year’s resolutions fail (and how to succeed).

Note: Since losing weight is the most common New Year’s resolution, I chose to focus on weight loss (but these principles can be applied to just about any goal you think of — make it work for you!).

1. You’re treating a marathon like a sprint.

Slow and steady habit change might not be sexy, but it’s a lot more effective than the “I want it ALL and I want it NOW!” mentality. Small changes stick better because they aren’t intimidating (if you do it right, you’ll barely even notice them!).

If you have a lot of bad habits today, the last thing you need to do is remodel your entire life overnight. Want to lose weight? Stop it with the crash diets and excessive exercise plans. Instead of following a super restrictive plan that bans anything fun, add one positive habit per week. For example, you could start with something easy like drinking more water during your first week. The following week, you could move on to eating 3 fruits and veggies every day. And the next week, you could aim to eat a fistful of protein at every meal.

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2. You put the cart before the horse.

“Supplementing” a crappy diet is stupid, so don’t even think about it. Focus on the actions that produce the overwhelming amount of results. If it’s not important, don’t worry about it.

3. You don’t believe in yourself.

A failure to act can cripple you before you leave the starting line. If you’ve tried (and failed) to set a New Year’s resolution (or several) in the past, I know it might be hard to believe in yourself. Doubt is a nagging voice in your head that will resist personal growth with every ounce of its being. The only way to defeat doubt is to believe in yourself. Who cares if you’ve failed a time or two? This year, you can try again (but better this time).

4. Too much thinking, not enough doing.

The best self-help book in the world can’t save you if you fail to take action. Yes, seek inspiration and knowledge, but only as much as you can realistically apply to your life. If you can put just one thing you learn from every book or article you read into practice, you’ll be on the fast track to success.

5. You’re in too much of a hurry.

If it was quick-and-easy, everybody would do it, so it’s in your best interest to exercise your patience muscles.

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6. You don’t enjoy the process.

Is it any wonder people struggle with their weight when they see eating as a chore and exercise as a dreadful bore? The best fitness plan is one that causes the least interruption to your daily life. The goal isn’t to add stress to your life, but rather to remove it.

The best of us couldn’t bring ourselves to do something we hate consistently, so make getting in shape fun, however you’ve gotta do it. That could be participating in a sport you love, exercising with a good friend or two, joining a group exercise class so you can meet new people, or giving yourself one “free day” per week where you forget about your training plan and exercise in any way you please.

7. You’re trying too hard.

Unless you want to experience some nasty cravings, don’t deprive your body of pleasure. The more you tell yourself you can’t have a food, the more you’re going to want it. As long as you’re making positive choices 80-90% of the time, don’t sweat the occasional indulgence.

8. You don’t track your progress.

Keeping a written record of your training progress will help you sustain an “I CAN do this” attitude. All you need is a notebook and a pen. For every workout, record what exercises you do, the number of repetitions performed, and how much weight you used if applicable. Your goal? Do better next time. Improving your best performance on a regular basis offers positive feedback that will encourage you to keep going.

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9. You have no social support.

It can be hard to stay motivated when you feel alone. The good news? You’re not alone: far from it. Post a status on Facebook asking your friends if anybody would like to be your gym or accountability buddy. If you know a co-worker who shares your goal, try to coordinate your lunch time and go out together so you’ll be more likely to make positive decisions. Join a support group of like-minded folks on Facebook, LinkedIn, or elsewhere on the internet. Strength in numbers is powerful, so use it to your advantage.

10. You know your what but not your why.

The biggest reason why most New Year’s resolutions fail: you know what you want but you not why you want it.

Yes: you want to get fit, lose weight, or be healthy… but why is your goal important to you? For example:

Do you want to be fit so you can be a positive example that your children can admire and look up to?

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Do you want to lose fat so you’ll feel more confident and sexy in your body than ever before?

Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and focus that would carry over into every single aspect of your life?

Whether you’re getting in shape because you want to live longer, be a good example, boost your energy, feel confident, have an excuse to buy hot new clothes, or increase your likelihood of getting laid (hey, I’m not here to judge) is up to you. Forget about any preconceived notions and be true to yourself.

  • The more specific you can make your goal,
  • The more vivid it will be in your imagination,
  • The more encouraged you’ll be,
  • The more likely it is you will succeed (because yes, you CAN do this!).

I hope this guide to why New Year’s resolutions fail helps you achieve your goals this year. If you found this helpful, please pass it along to some friends so they can be successful just like you. What do you hope to accomplish next year?

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