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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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