I was at lunch the other day with a friend and the topic of mindfulness came up. I had mentioned to her that my goal this year was to be more mindful, among other things.
“How can anyone be more mindful with all this technology? I find it so distracting!” she said. I reminded her that mindfulness is simply the state of being fully aware in the present moment. With that being said, I found her question very thought-provoking. Do mindfulness and technology mix?
It’s debatable, but it turns out, they can.
Technology can be a wonderful thing. It connects us to others, educates us, and inspires us. But like any good thing, there are downsides as well.
The social media comparison game, materialism and consumerism culture, and general feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and even loneliness are all side effects of technological over-use.
Mindfulness and technology is a movement in research and design, that encourages the user to become aware of the present moment, rather than losing oneself in a technological device. The excessive use of personal devices can lead to the deterioration of mental and physical health. Unfortunately, almost all of us are required to use technology at work or home in some capacity. It’s virtually unavoidable! With that in mind, I’ve listed six easy ways to be more mindful with technology throughout your day.
Like most things, this is easier said than done, and may not apply to you during the work day. However, when you come home, instead of getting comfortable and sitting down in front of the television, try curling up with a good book, or working on a hobby or activity- either alone or with a friend or partner. If you can, try to get outside and enjoy the weather: it’s better for your well-being.
Turn off Unnecessary Notifications
I’ve drastically reduced the amount of apps that I get notifications from, because I’ve found that it often distracts me throughout the day, and prompts me to look at my phone more. I also prefer to leave my phone on silent, so that if I do get a notification, it doesn’t interrupt me as much as a loud noise might. Currently, I only receive notifications for my email and phone calls, but do what feels right for you.
Use One Device at a Time
I’m super guilty of using my phone while Derrick and I are watching television. We’ve both made it a resolution this year to leave our phones in the other room while watching a show, so that we can focus on what’s on and spend some uninterrupted time together. (if you have any new show recommendations, please leave them below!)
Disconnect before Bed
I’ve said before that to have a good morning, avoid using your phone until you’re ready for the day. The same idea applies at bedtime. Try to avoid using your phone at least 30 minutes before you’re ready to sleep, and lower the brightness on your phone. Derrick and I like to read the last hour before bed, and we’ve noticed a big difference in our sleep quality when we don’t use our phones.
Keep Devices out of the Bedroom
Keeping your phone out of your bedroom isn’t really feasible for most people nowadays. Aside from my parents, I don’t know of many others who still utilize a standalone alarm clock! If you must have your device in your bedroom, switch it to nighttime mode or do not disturb to reduce disruption of sleep patterns. I recently started using the bedtime feature on my iPhone, and it’s a game changer.
Disconnect in the Presence of Others
I can’t tell you how many times Derrick and I will go out to eat and find ourselves staring at our own phones while we wait for our food. And it’s not just us- 1 in 3 Americans cannot get through a meal without looking at their phones! We’ve made it a goal this year to disconnect from technology as much as possible when spending time with each other, friends, or family. Choosing to focus on the people you’re with and giving them your undivided attention will strengthen your relationship- and they’ll thank you for it.