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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

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Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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