Do you remember the era of the ‘on call’ job? A time when someone you knew had a beeper (pager) so that their company could contact them on the weekend or after hours, interrupting their ‘down time’ so they could attend to company business?
I remember a friend who would sigh when her beeper went off, but she was grateful for the extra hourly pay she’d earn for the period she was on call.
These days, being always available – socially and for work – is a way of life, or even an expectation. We’re living in a ‘24/7’ culture and it has a massive influence on how we live, work and relax, and how we relate to others.
Of course, there are plenty of benefits with being connected and available; convenience, speed and productivity. We can finish our time sheet remotely, call our mother to say we’ll be home a bit late (where is that phone box?) and respond to a client’s email without going into the office. But at the same time, ‘stress’ is becoming the latest lifestyle disease.
With a growing culture of instant, constant connection, we are always available to others. We can find ourselves bent over our devices, checking, updating, and responding. We are more frequently exposed to light sources that elevate our stress hormone levels.
Why do we do this?
Well, aside from the benefits, there are some less positive drivers for constant connection.
For example, some recent studies
indicate the ‘reward’ centres in our brain respond to positive social feedback (e.g. Facebook). And we all like being rewarded, right? So you can end up ‘pushing the pleasure button’ over and over to get more rewards.
There is also the feeling of obligation to be available for or accountable to other people, and of course, there’s FOMO (fear of missing out).
Some chiropractors I know say they are more-frequently treating excessive forward head posture and upper cross syndrome.
Studies are also emerging that show anxious people can becoming more anxious and depressed
with excessive internet use.
And of course, in the vein of coaching, it’s hard to be mindful, present and in the moment, if you are ready to respond instantly to a text, email, Facebook notification or instant chat message.
Maybe Tim Leary was on the right path in 1967, when he came up with the famous mantra “turn on, tune in, drop out”. It was all about mindfulness, harmony, focus and attention.
If you feel you are too ‘plugged in’, I highly recommend a digital detox – to Turn Off, Check Out and Tune in. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Turn Off – Do you need to turn off your communication devices and if so, when, and for how long? Write down some ideas to experiment with.
- Check Out – If you decide to ‘turn off’ regularly, what sorts of boundaries would you want set around your use of technology? Who would you need to communicate these with? In other words, how can you ‘check out’ and be sure nobody will disturb you?
- Tune In – What will allow you to be mindful and in the present moment? What do you need to do, or what could you experiment with, to achieve mindful, meditative bliss?