Where is your phone right now? We bet that, if it’s not in your pocket, it’s in your hand. And just by saying that, you’ve gone to check it again, haven’t you? Any new messages or emails? On average, most of us check our phones around 150 times a day. That’s six times an hour. Every ten minutes…
Now think about this: even if you haven’t left your house today, how many advertisements have you seen, consciously or otherwise? Adverts in the paper, adverts on the TV, adverts on the tube… we even get adverts in our apps! All of that information has to be processed, somehow.
Now doesn’t this sound familiar: if you’re lucky enough to have had a recent holiday abroad, the anxiety of not being able to connect with people, or see any updates on your apps is real, isn’t it? (Well, you could, but those pesky roaming charges!) We all know someone who says that they find flying incredibly stressful for that very reason.
Or how about this: you see an article on Twitter worth reading. That leads to another five articles, three listicles, a YouTube playlist and a Wikipedia hole of finding out more, and more, and more. Before you know it, you’re reading about King Henry VIII when all you wanted to do was read an article about mental health!
We are constantly bombarded with information, and as we try to take it all in, it causes us a very real stress. And alongside that, there’s a growing train of thought that we’re becoming less connected with the actual world, and the people around us.
Why is a long walk in the country cited as a way of ‘clearing your mind’? People talk about ‘getting out of the city for the weekend just to rest a little’. If you live in the hustle and bustle of a city like London, you are being fed information in every direction, constantly, and as a result, it causes anxiety, stress and (though you may not know it) tension in relationships – because of the hyper-stressed state we all seem to be constantly living in.
So what can we do to improve this? According to Ph.D psychologist and author Lucy Jo Palladino, there are steps we could take to destress our daily lives:
A4 “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott #NYEDChat— Lucy Jo Palladino (@ljpalladino) 16 June 2015
Avoid social media… or at least set limits with it
The constant opinions, the constant likes and favourites, and the anxiety that comes along with posting (will people like it? Why don’t people like it?) all contribute to stress. So cut it out. Or if you can’t for personal or professional reasons, limit your exposure to it. Check your emails every hour, don’t read them as soon as they come through, and you might even find yourself being more productive!
Take breaks from your screen
A 20-minute break from your work computer screen every hour has been cited as beneficial for a while now, but it’s not just to give your eyes a break. It’ll help you regain perspective, and may even help you zero-in on those all-important decisions that actually matter.
Dedicate a no-phone time
Off to meet a group of friends for dinner? Put your phone face-down on the table and set specific periods when you can use it. You’ll engage with those in front of you much more freely, and nobody will ever call you rude for not paying attention!
Keep your virtual and physical spaces clutter-free
Make sure your desk and work area are clear, well-organised and ready to process overflow. And that goes for your virtual desktop, too. Keep things organised in folders, delete the old files you don’t need, and you’ll find yourself streamlining your workflow.
And when it comes to clutter, think about this: how much of the stuff you own do you really need? How much stuff do you have stuffed in drawers you never open, clothes in wardrobes you never wear, or food you buy that goes rotten before you eat it? Minimalism is a growing movement that says by simply decluttering your life of the things you don’t need or use, you can live a happier, healthier life, and build stronger relationships with the people around you.
Love people, use things. The opposite never works.— The Minimalists (@TheMinimalists) 9 September 2015
A pair of minimalists calling themselves, err, The Minimalists, have spearheaded this movement over the last decade, and it’s clear why. After finding himself blindsided by the loss of his mother and the breakdown of his marriage in the same month, Joshua stumbled across minimalism and reports his life has been more fulfilling ever since.
His partner in minimalism, Ryan Nicodemus, has a similar story: following the loss of his job as a corporate executive, he discovered minimalism as a way of living a more meaningful existence. And with over 4 million sales of their various books on the topic (not to mention a fantastic documentary – check it out on Netflix!), the support for such a minimalistic life both physically and digitally is growing by the day.
The evidence is clear that disconnecting from the physical world of stuff, and the digital world of constant information, can actually help us lead more connected lives to the actual world we live in. And if you find yourself permanently stressed at the moment… what do you have to lose?
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