With the huge influence of electronics and social media in our society, the need to be “plugged in” has become almost inherent. Checking Instagram, Facebook or emails, has become as second nature as breathing. We can’t sit in a waiting room, walk to the class, or wait for our order without pulling out our phones, and when we forget our phones at home–gasp–our whole day is set off kilter. This need we have to be constantly connected to our phones has in turn, caused us to be even less attentive to our own lives, not fully living in the present as our mind is always half somewhere else. This topic has been on my mind lately, and after talking about it with several of those closest to me, I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts, enjoy!
1. WAIT AT LEAST 30 MINUTES IN THE MORNING BEFORE CHECKING YOUR PHONE.
Instead of immediately grabbing for your phone when you wake up, take time to slowly welcome the new day the old-fashioned way. Watch the sun come up, drink a glass of water, stretch, shower, nourish your body, plan out your day. Taking these simple steps will lead towards a sharper, more focused mind and increase the productivity of your morning routine. Practice the same methods at night. The artificial light emitted from phones, tv’s and computers can trick our mind into thinking it’s still daytime, which can leave you wired and prove difficult for you to fall asleep. Do your body a favor and shut off electronics 30 minutes before you go to sleep to allow your mind to slowly power-down. Have a cup of herbal tea, read a book, appreciate your day and visualize the next!
2. EXERCISE OUTSIDE…WITHOUT MUSIC.
I know, I know…going for a walk or run seems incomplete without your pump-up workout playlist. Heck, new music is often my sole workout motivation, especially for an early morning workout. But shouldn’t our main exercise motivation be towards keeping our bodies healthy? When we have music in our ears it takes away from the entire outdoor experience. So next time you head out for a run leave the music behind and appreciate the sights and sounds of your surroundings.
3. OPEN A BOOK!
Instead of scrolling through your news-feed or watching tv while you eat and relax, open a book! Reading has been proven to relieve stress, improve memory function and enhance analytical skills…basically it makes you smarter, and who doesn’t want to be smarter?
4. MAKE PLANS THAT DON’T INVOLVE ELECTRONICS.
Next time you make plans with friends try to think of activities that don’t involve any form of electronics. A hike, a bike ride, beach day, grabbing a bite to eat. Plan to do things with the goal of quality time in mind, and leave your phone in the car! When we live our life based on the type of Instagram pictures we can get out of it, we’re not able to fully appreciate the moments, or the people, for what they really are.
5. PRACTICE THE ONE-SCREEN RULE.
I am oh so guilty of this. I often sit down to watch a movie or tv show and immediately pull out my phone or work on my computer. While multitasking can sometimes be beneficial, having more than one screen in our face at a time messes with our brains, and causes us to become impatient and unable to focus on what’s in front of us. So next time you sit down to watch tv, put your phone away!
6. WHEN SOMEONE SPEAKS, LISTEN.
When you’re having a conversation with someone keep your phone out of sight. Instead of being seemingly half interested in conversation and nodding when you think you should, keep your attention on the speaker and be sure to make eye contact. Giving someone your full attention is one of the most respectful and encouraging things you can do, a trait that won’t soon be forgotten.
7. HAVE A NO-PHONE-ZONE.
I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the picture below has to do with any point I’m making. I promise it does. The night this picture was taken, although just a random night with my roommates, is seemingly one of my most memorable nights in college. Why you may ask? When everyone walked in the door we made them put their phones in a basket, we spent the night cooking, laughing and spending quality time with one another, without the distraction of any phones and it was wonderful. I challenge you to try it the next time you’re hanging out with friends and I can guarantee you will exponentially gain more than any update you’ll miss on your phone.
8. BE INTENTIONAL.
It’s so easy to ask someone “how are you?” in passing, while not really caring to hear the answer. Sure we can learn a lot about people by reading their status’, which is kind of creepy if you think about it, but when was the last time you sat down with someone and asked them to share their heart with you? Next time you’re walking to class, put your phone away and smile at people as you walk by them. When your roommate comes home from a long day, take the time to really ask, and care about how their day went. Lift up a friend with encouraging words by sending them a note or text. When you take time to be intentional with people you will find that your relationships will deepen and your life will become even more fulfilling.
9. EAT MINDFULLY.
Too often do we eat food on the go, eat too fast, eat standing up or eat just to live. When we take time to sit down for a meal and chew our food slowly it allows us appreciate the textures, tastes and smells of the foods we are putting in our bodies. This also helps with digestion, reduces bloating and overeating. If we are mindful about what we eat, we end up choosing foods that are packed with beneficial nutrients, and by eating slowly we can learn to sense when our stomach is full.
10. FIND JOY IN THE LITTLE THINGS.
Can you think back to what made you happy as a child? A lady-bug crawling across the grass, the swings at the park, digging in the sand with your toes. We are inherently the same humans that we have been all our lives, (groundbreaking statement, I know) which means that deep down those “childish” things can still make us happy! For me this means watching the sunset or hugging my dogs…whatever it may be, go do something today that brings a smile to your face and let it radiate through your soul.
If any/all of this seems overwhelming to you just try, above all, to do your very best. We can’t be perfect in all things, but if our goal is to do our best in all that we do, we won’t have reason to be hard on ourselves. A huge part of learning to live in the present is to appreciate, accept and love yourself, forgive your own mistakes and try your best to work towards a more mindful and positive life.