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Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 52 TECHNOLOGY Stress Relief for the Constantly Connected Life vs. screens: who’s really in control? Lori Deschene on how to make sure you’re the one in charge. I stay here?” I asked. She returned to the house and brought out a blanket. When she turned off the porch light, the night flooded back in, warm and sweet and endless. How could I have forgotten this? How could I have forgotten that the wild, damp world is an answer to stress? The expanse of the natural world, the infinity of the night sky, and the long reach of the winds dwarf human concerns. Here is where our minds can unclench, our hearts can break open, and we can step outside our narrowed lives into a world that is without limits in time or space or beauty. The uni- verse itself breathes in and out—the trees inhaling, exhaling in the rhythm of day and night, and the Earth slowly rotating into and out of the light, the green leaves shining. Stress, n. antonym gratitude. KATHLEEN DEAN MOORE, author of Wild Comfort: The Solace of Nature and Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, is a distinguished professor of philosophy at Oregon State University. TAKE DIGITAL BREAKS This year on March 23, millions of people did a collective digi- tal detox. It was the third annual National Day of Unplugging, created by an organization called the Sabbath Manifesto. A digi- tal detox is just what it sounds like—a complete break from ev- erything related to technology. Those who took part reported feeling more present and focused in their surroundings. But you don’t need to wait for a sched- uled day to unplug and recharge your mind; at any time you choose you can en- joy the benefits of powering down your gadgets. During those days when you must stay connected, prioritize maintain- ing a connection with yourself so that you stay in touch with your needs. You may require regular breaks to stretch your legs and ground yourself in the moment, or you may need to close everything down once in awhile and take a few slow, mindful breaths. When you schedule and take regular digital breaks, it’s much easier to maintain a sense of balance, mentally and physically. HARNESS THE POWER OF PAUSING When we feel technology-related stress, it’s often because we’ve consciously chosen to distract and overwhelm ourselves. Some- times we pull out our phones to avoid uncomfortable moments or sign on to social media sites to feel acknowledged, connected, or validated. When you feel compelled to check your email, post a status update, or otherwise engage online, take a moment and check in with your true intentions and needs. This same concept also applies to work correspondence. You might be tempted to monitor your email remotely in order to stay ahead, but this puts you in a persistent state of high alert. In a recent study, British psychologist and researcher Rich- IT’S EASY TO FEEL overwhelmed in our internet-enabled, always- on world. From friends and family to colleagues and acquaintances, there’s always someone emailing, tweeting, or texting—and every- thing can seem so urgent. If you feel stressed by the pressure to keep up with the stream, you may find it helpful to set some commu- nication boundaries, for yourself and others. These tips may help. SET BOUNDARIES There was a time when we collectively understood that reaching an answering machine meant no one was home. We also ac- cepted that we would receive a call back at some unknown time, when that person returned. While most of us anticipate far speedier replies these days, it’s up to each of us to set expectations for when and how we’ll respond. That might mean setting up an email auto-responder explaining that you only check your account at specific times each week. Or it might entail writing in your social media profiles that you don’t check messages on those sites. You may also want to request that your friends and coworkers compile their requests to send all at once, instead of sending many short emails throughout the day. If you set boundaries for how you receive communication— and expectations for when you’ll respond—it will be easier to relax when you disconnect. PHOTO:COLOURBOX.COM