We live in the “age of convenience”. We have washing machines, microwaves, robot vacuums, smart phones and a plethora of other “time saving” gadgets. These wonderful inventions were supposed to give us more free time but what we have done instead is take on more responsibilities and distractions.
Now we have 24-hour email, umpteen social media platforms to pull us out of reality, unhealthy diets, Netflix, sleep deprivation and road rage. We expect everything in an instant and ping-pong through the world getting pissed at everyone who gets in our way. The “age of convenience” could more accurately be described as the “age of stress” and lately I feel like I have been hanging on by a thread.
In our modern world it is more important than ever to set up personal boundaries. It is not enough to go home and shut the door anymore, the world can still reach us. Embracing technology can be an incredibly enriching experience and offers a lot of useful tools, but if we fail to control how much and how often we can easily be overcome. So rather than rail about how important it is for your health, well-being and relationships to de-stress, I am going to share with you my top 3 ways to actually do it.
#1 Create a sacred space: Find somewhere to call your own. Whether it is an entire room in your house, a comfy chair by the window or a shady spot in the backyard, plant a flag and declare it yours. When life gets hectic it is great to have a space meant just for relaxing, for being quiet and reducing stress.
Surround your space with things you enjoy: candles, photos, trinkets, pretty flowers or anything that makes you happy. Wherever you decide to make your space use it for doing whatever relaxes you: reading, knitting, journaling, doing a crossword puzzle, meditate, take some deep breaths, daydream or just stare off into space. The time you spend in your sacred space is NOT to be used for checking email, thinking about work, scrolling on Facebook, paying bills or any other activity that could distract you from being in the moment.
#2 Incorporate Music: Do you ever notice how a certain song can bring up emotions? Music can have profound effects on our state of being. A lot of hospitals even incorporate music therapy into patient care and I suggest you do the same when caring for yourself. I like to create different stations on Pandora depending on my mood and utilize them accordingly. Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts or books on tape to relax. Listening to the sound of someone’s voice can be very soothing. Just make sure what you are listening to is contributing to you relaxation and doesn’t amp you up.
#3 Unplug: In an increasingly digital world it seems like everything in life happens through a screen. We watch TV and movies in living rooms and waiting rooms, we scan Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep up with friends and family, we read and respond to emails and texts almost instantly and even get our news and gossip through the internet. While I love what the internet and technology has done for my life, I also realize a break from social media, correspondence and screen time is important to reducing stress.
When we are constantly online we continually stimulate our brains and emotions. Which is why I suggest taking at least a few hours a day (if not more) away from screens to live-in-the-moment: take a walk, read a book, cook a meal, have a face-to-face conversation, just sit, just be. You’ll be amazed how stress- free you feel when you put down your smart phone.
I have taken major steps back from all my social media accounts and I have to say, I feel so much better. Social media, particularly during an election year, becomes a black hole of political vitriol where strangers misunderstand each other and participate in days-long arguments that have nothing to do with the original topic. It is a complete energy waste and can be emotionally and mentally taxing. I’d rather not get involved. It is important to stay away from things that trigger us if we want to manage our stress. Suffice it to say, I’m enjoying my time away from social media.
Stress can take many forms in our lives and ultimately my best suggestion for reducing stress is to pay attention to what activities trigger it. We are all individuals and are affected by different things, make sure to listen to your body and if you notice that something, or someone makes you feel elevated take a step back and work on fostering calm – a little bit of peace can go a long way when it comes to your state of being.