Let’s face it, most of us spend more time face-to-screen than face-to-face these days; we live in a world ruled by devices. The explosion of technology in our time has opened up many amazing opportunities, allowed us to connect to people around the world and has increased access to knowledge for many people. This is an amazing time to be alive, yet many of us are feeling digital fatigue, anxiety and fear from our devices.
Email notifications, social media alerts, news updates, text messages all bombard us (often simultaneously) daily. They rob us of our focus, our concentration and can throw our Vata off balance. The elements of our digital information and energy exchange are classically Vata, ether and air. When those notifications, emails, beeps, rings and blue blinking lights go off, our Vata becomes aggravated from all the ungrounded and undirected prana (life force) being emitted.
While getting rid of all the screens in your life might sound appealing to some, for most of us that’s just not a viable option. So what can you do to regain your focus, concentration and bring healthy balance to your digital life?
To help bring our Vata back into balance we must focus on grounding to keep the excessive ether and air energy balanced during our screen time:
Work Those Screens with Intention
How guilty are you of looking at your phone and computer at the same time? Working on your computer with 20 tabs open and then quickly checking your phone for texts? Don’t feel too guilty, we all do it! But this behavior can definitely throw off focus, productivity and make us feel like an anxious mess.
Instead, work with intention. Focus on the task at hand and, if possible, concentrate on one device at a time. If you’re working at your computer, place your phone out of arms reach or in a drawer. If working on your phone, make sure you’re not also sitting in front of a screen (computer or TV!). When working on your computer, try to close out any excessive open windows or tabs and keep open only what is needed for the task at hand. (Facebook can easily be reopened later).
Bring the Outdoors In
Most of us don’t have the ability to work on our devices outside (if you do, take advantage of this). So we need to bring those earthy elements into our workspace to ground our energy.
Try adding plants, flowers, crystals or rocks. You may even want to use your favorite image of nature for your desktop background or lock screen on your phone.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Ever get stuck staring into the void of your screen because you can’t get motivated? Try to not work for such long strides of time that your brain literally melts at the computer. To increase productivity and focus, work in short spurts of time, between 30 and 60 minutes, with a 10 minute break in between. This also means focused time, no mindless email or social media checking, and that quick Amazon order can wait. Set yourself a timer and just work at the given task until that time is up. And don’t forget to take your break away from that screen – get up, get a snack, try some stretching and give your brain a change of pace.
Did I mention you should get up? Because you should! Sitting can disconnect us from earth – your feet are so lightly touching the ground which will aggravate the already airy Vata. Get up and ground those feet into the floor! If you work at a desk, try some tasks standing up (or look into a standing workspace). If you’re meeting with someone, in person or on the phone, try a walking meeting instead of sitting. The very act of standing will immediately connect you back to the earth.
If you’re really stuck sitting, try deeply planting all four corners of your feet firmly on the ground.
Detox and Unplug
We weren’t meant to sit in front of a screen all day every day, so finding time to break away from our devices to enjoy other activities fully is the key to striking a healthy balance.
Try a digital curfew. Blue light emitted from electronic screens can keep us awake longer at night, so it’s important to cut down usage before lights out. Try putting the devices away between 30 and 60 minutes before bedtime. Turn off laptops and tablets, power-off phones and place them out of arms reach. Try using an old school alarm clock instead of the alarm on your phone to further cut down on temptation to just “check” Instagram.
Let that curfew extend past waking up! Are you reaching for your phone first thing in the morning? Try restricting use for the first 30 minutes after waking up and reserve that time instead for grounding meditation, yoga, journaling or just enjoy your coffee/tea outside. The phone, messages and social media will all be there when you’re done!
We were never meant to be connected and available all the time (hello, weekend emails from clients). While you may feel anxiety about unread messages or needing to be available just in case, know that you are in charge of the structure of your free time and if technology is making you anxious, paranoid or just a little stressed and sad, it’s time to consider a break.
Unplug for an afternoon, a whole day, maybe even a full weekend. Set an automatic email response for coworkers, bosses and clients who might reach out with a friendly message letting them know you will be available starting on X day or time. Delete your social media apps on your phone (yes, they will be easy to download and pick up where you left off when you’re ready). If you have a workspace at home, make sure you have a way to close it off, either behind a closed door or clean your projects and papers off and place them out of sight.
Your first detox might be scary, but fight the urge to pick up your screen and just enjoy your low-tech time. Go for a nature hike, cook a beautiful healthy meal, meet with friends in person or just build a fire and read a book. You’ll be surprised to come back from your detox rested, motivated and energetic. You’ll also find all those communications, posts and work is exactly where you left it.
Author: Kelly Driscoll