With the luxury of smart phones and computers, we are now being constantly subjected to stimulation from the moment we get up in the morning to when our head hits the pillow at night. I love my phone don’t get me wrong – it is my personal mini computer and it connects me to my clients and friends around the world, but there is also a price to pay for this type of immediate and constant communication.
One being we are constantly ‘on-call’ and expected to return text messages, phone calls and emails…pretty much right away. This new instantaneous demand-response-reply in our culture has many of us accustomed to and even ‘trained’ to the idea that we need to answer our phones, emails and texts right a way (professionally or personally), or the person on the other end will soon be frustrated with us. Every time our phone rings or sings at us our brain goes on alert. We can’t help it. It creates an immediate curiosity and a sense of responsibility to get back to that person or persons quickly…and there can be an inner agitation and feeling of guilt until we do. This constant being on-demand creates a steady unconscious alertness in the body that is subtle, but it builds stress and tension over time.
The truth is we are constantly on demand in the modern day world, and this CONSTANCY increases physical, mental and emotional tension and takes away from total downtime – leaving more people susceptible to an agitated nervous systems, increased stress, hyper-tension, and anxiety.
5 Tips to Lower Your Stress From Communication Overload
1. When you are working on a project or something important that requires your total focus -turn your phone off. Allow your mind to totally focus on what you are doing in the present moment and shut off your beeping, ringing phone that is connected to a million and one distractions. Notice how relaxing it can be to shut your phone off for an hour or two. Don’t worry, not long ago this is how life use to be – and actually there was something great about not being so reachable all the time. Give your nervous system a break of being on-call and on-demand
2. Set an agreement with yourself and/or with your boss of when you will be checking business emails and stick to this time frame as much as possible. Your brain, body and spirit need time that is completely un-work related. 15 years ago you weren’t expected to be at the office till 9:00 at night, but now that you can bring your office home with you on your smart phone – this doesn’t mean you ‘should be’ checking your email and working all hours of the morning, day and night. Your boss is happy to have you working all hours of the day – if you want this boundary you need to set it. When do you want to be done checking your business emails – 6:30? What would be healthy and realistic for you?
3. When you are relaxing TOTALLY immerse yourself in it. Let your mind and body CHILL 100%. If you are having dinner with friends turn off your phone. Or better yet (I heard this the other day and I thought it was BRILLIANT) have everyone put their phones in a pile, and the first person to pick theirs up also has to pay the bill. Wow can you imagine everyone being present with each other for an entire meal? We have enough non-local communication of texting, emailing, skyping everyday. When you are actually with other human beings – BE WITH THEM… leave the cyber world for an hour or two. Don’t worry it will be there when you turn your phone back on. If you are watching a movie, reading a book, also give yourself an hour or more of a break and silence your phone. I personally like to turn mine off – that way my curiosity doesn’t distract me. If it is off – it is off. When you do this you will feel the demand of being ‘on-call’ leave your body, and you can relax more fully. It is as easy as pushing a button.
4. Depending if this is possible at your job – set times when you check and reply to emails and voicemail. Perhaps an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. If you don’t do this your mind is not able to fully focus on the tasks you are doing and your work can suffer for it. Being disjointed can make a project take a lot longer than it would have 15 years ago. See if it is possible to set boundaries for when you check email…and for those who need discipline in the social media world – you can do the same for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Create valuable space to work without so much distraction. Your nervous system will thank you for it.
5. Communicate when you need 24 hours or more to get back to someone. It is okay if you can’t respond back that hour or that day. Your health is important and sometimes you need time to think about a response. Because you may have 50 different messages coming at you through various medias all at once – you can’t always get back to people right away, AND still do a good job at work, AND have time to maintain your health and sanity. You don’t have to do it all, and be it all, for everyone 24/7.
Okay I’ll throw in one more as a Bonus!
6. Remember that you are a Human Being – not a human doing. Your body took millions of years to evolve, it likes to be nourished and soothed in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with the social media world, phones, computers and television. If you take a 5-10 minute break from work see if you can go outside and sit in the sun and just breathe. Take 10 even breaths IN and OUT. (Having an even breath balances your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Breathing deeply is a simple, powerful tool at your disposal every moment of the day.) Your body LOVES to breath deeply, but when we are on the go and in stimulation work mode, your breathing easily gets shallow and more rapid. Give yourself permission to relax and fully let go for 10 minutes. DON’T bring your phone with you! Give your eyes a break from looking at yet another glowing screen! Feel the earth beneath your feet, the wind on your face, look up at the sky and notice an expansive scenery that has nothing to do with the busy world of men and enjoy 5-10 minutes of Being not Doing.
If you found this information valuable please pass it along to your friends and if you have any questions for me about general stress, anxiety or insomnia send me an email … and I will get back to you within 24-48 hours 🙂