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Let me begin by saying I know that our phones and technology are important in our day-to-day life. I am not implying that we should do away with them. The world around us just simply wouldn’t allow for that. To conduct business and keep up with the times, our devices are imperative for us to continue being relevant. However, I do feel that there is space for creating a balance with our usage and time spent in front of the screen. That is why there are programs out there that support people dealing with tech addiction, and there are vacations that you can go on where technology is strictly forbidden.

The first signs that I was being affected by my devices and social media was after the presidential election in 2016. I found social media to be incredibly overwhelming. All sides of the political climate were virtually screaming at one another and it began to affect my emotional well-being. I was anxious, irritated and annoyed. I realized that was I was checking FB in line at the grocery store, or while having a cup of coffee. It became a distraction for me and I felt like I was letting life just go by and not connecting with others. So, I took myself off FB, and that helped.

But, there were many times where I was still looking at my phone because it had become a habit. It had become second nature for me to look at something, so I then switched from looking at FB to looking at the news feed app in my phone. Between the shootings, North Korea, the fires, the hurricanes, the earthquakes, the mudslides, war … I felt like all that I was hearing was negative. Fear began to percolate in my heart. Worry over what this world was going to be like in the future started to seep into my thoughts and it made me question my safety in the world.

Once it reached this point, I knew I needed a real break from the outside noise. I really thought about what I could do to help myself. What came forward was to cut down on the time that I am connected to my phone. And when I made simple shifts, I noticed a profound change in my inner experience. I cut out a lot of worry that I had no control over, and I was able to be more present with myself and others. I started a digital detox!

What is a digital detox, you ask? According to Wikipedia it’s a “growing phenomenon that serves as a reaction to the information overload coming with new media and digital connecting devices. Smartphones, laptops and tablets, combined with the increasing wireless Internet accessibility, enable technology users to constantly be connected to the digital world.”

The first step is to remind yourself that you’re the boss of your world, and it’s up to you to take control of what you need. Pay attention to when you are grabbing for your phone. Is it because you are bored? Is it because you don’t want to be just sitting there, alone? Is it for information? What are the feelings that you feel before you pick up your phone? The second step is to put steps into motion that will support you in making the shift. Here are a few examples for you to consider:

  • Leave your phone at home when you go for a walk.
  • Wear a watch.
  • Get an alarm clock.
  • Decide to not look at your phone for an hour or two before bed.
  • When in a conversation with someone, don’t have the phone in sight and turn the ringer off.
  • Choose specific times of day that you will dedicate to check and respond to emails.
  • Turn off all notifications and alerts.
  • Don’t look at your phone in taxis or public transportation.
  • Refrain from using devices while waiting in any kind of line.
  • Don’t use while in nature.
  • Spend 10 minutes doing nothing — just being present with what is going on around you.

In the end you have the power to create your own experience, and it doesn’t have to leave you feeling disconnected from the world.

Spiritual Seed: Life is about making choices that empower you to create your own experience.

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Kate Messmer Jessup has a private practice called Peace of Kate based out of Napa. She teaches the tools to live life with inner peace, love, and compassion. To find out more about her services you can email her at contactme@peaceofkate.com or go to www.peaceofkate.com.

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