Why Managing Digital Overwhelm Is A Must
Back in the fall I took my first trip to Europe. YES, the trip was amazing and I’d love to tell you all about the experience I had in Malta (and London), but that’s not happening today. We’ve got more important things to discuss, like digital overwhelm.
Yeah, it’s a thing.
Here’s where my trip to Europe becomes relevant. I was guilty of being tethered to my phone, afraid I’d miss an important email or text, and always checking notifications when they popped up. It became apparent to me that not only was it impacting my overall health and wellbeing, but my ability to be engaged with loved ones and maintain the focus necessary to get shit done in my business.
So, my goal when I set off on my trip to Europe was to completely disconnect from all technology while away, with the exception of a daily call home to talk to my boys.
Of course I was terrified at first, but because of the time difference and my desire to experience the culture I was visiting - I stuck to my plan. I stayed out of my inbox, didn’t visit social media AT ALL, and because of connection issues I didn’t even text.
As a result, all of that overwhelm and anxiety seemed to disappear and I experienced a new level of calm. (Yes, I know I was on vacation - but this was different.)
And what happened when I returned home made it even more apparent, because after a 10-day detox getting back to “real life” messed with me. So much so that I experienced my first ever panic attack - in a dream!
That’s the thing about detoxes (tech, food, alcohol), they are great in the moment and work amazingly well - but when we return to the regular routine, it almost makes matters worse because they aren’t sustainable.
So, because I had experienced the benefits of disconnecting, I was hellbent on figuring out how to shift my habits around technology in a way that was realistic in day-to-day life, but also effective in accomplishing my goal of managing the overload.
I slowly implemented habits that worked within my business and personal life, one at a time, and it worked. The habits I created really stuck and have helped me to not only improve my sleep and mood, but my relationships and my productivity. (Among other things.)
I share this because I see the impact digital overwhelm has on people every single day. In fact, I just heard the other day that the “fear of missing out” is so real that FOMO has officially been entered into the Oxford Dictionary.
For real. 😖
The informal definition is: Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.
If you needed proof that our society has a real problem with feeling anxious about missing out, there ya go. And it doesn’t stop at social media. Technology as a whole is taking a toll on our health, mental wellbeing, and relationships. In fact, studies have reported an association between technology and depression, anxiety, and decreased marital satisfaction.
There’s no doubt technology has made our lives easier in many ways (remember when we had roadmaps in our cars or when we couldn’t be reached if we weren’t at home to answer the phone?), but research suggests that our addiction to it is VERY real.
Those bad boys are like little slot machines in our pockets - with every new notification or text we get a release of dopamine which keeps you coming back for more.
Yes, I compared your phone to a slot machine. #sorrynotsorry
If you’re a high achiever, chances are your mini slot machine is within arm’s reach right now - you’re likely using it to read this! 😬
And if I had to guess, you might find yourself constantly in that email inbox, getting distracted by social media, and finding it challenging to juggle personal and professional engagement at times.
Depending on the study you read, we are spending between 1-2 hours a day on digital devices...and I think that’s conservative.
So, what do you do? A detox isn’t always possible because you’ve got a career and it’s kind of a requirement to be connected. Not to mention, if you own your own business you probably use social media to promote it so simply throwing the phone out the window for a week doesn’t work.
However, managing your digital overwhelm does work. And, you can do it without experiencing FOMO. Promise.
As I mentioned earlier, for me it meant creating habits habits that allowed me to stay calm and connected in real life without letting technology dictate my life.
The shift happens when you begin to be mindful of your digital activity in the absence of a detox.
Just like your diet, it requires consistent action to keep healthy habits in place.
Don’t you want to get back to a place where you look into peoples eyes when you talk to them? When you can get a workout in without feeling like you need to respond to an incoming request? When you can fall to sleep quickly and wake up feeling rested?
I recently fell off the wagon on my habits and I’ve had to put a few back in place because it was impacting my EVERYTHING.
I’m kickstarting it all over again because everyone needs a good reset, and I want to invite you to join me. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you to turn your phone off for a day. I will send you an email everyday for a week with one habit to consider implementing - nothing more - to start to manage the digital overwhelm that is likely impacting your health, wellbeing and productivity.
If you want to join in, simply go here and send me a DM with the subject line “Digital Diet” or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the same subject line.
In the meantime, I’m not leaving you hanging. Here’s one thing I recommend you do to get started...
Don’t go to bed with your phone. In a Qualcomm survey, 50 percent of Americans reported sleeping with their devices next to their beds. When you do this, you end up inviting the entire world in when you wake up because you’re in the habit of rolling over and checking email, Facebook, or the news. If you get a negative email, see a post on social media that sets you off, or read a news article that gets to you, you’ve started your day on the wrong foot before you’ve even removed the covers.
Instead, put that phone outside of the bedroom - the bathroom works - and when you wake up give yourself 20-30 minutes or even an hour to focus on YOU. Spend that time setting your intentions for the day, preparing a nutritious breakfast, or getting a quick workout in.
I know it feels scary, but try it. And if your excuse is that you use your pone as an alarm - knock it off. You can still hear your alarm from the bathroom (I can) or go buy an old school alarm clock to use. This was one of the first things I did and it has been a game changer not just for my mornings, but for my entire day.
If you make this shift, let me know how it goes for you! And, as I said earlier...if you want to change your relationship with technology without going cold turkey (cause that’s not realistic), join me for a VERY realistic digital diet.