I’ve been trapped by our culture of constant stimulation. I’m terrified of missing out, not doing enough, not keeping up. I always feel like I should be doing more. How can we combat the bombardment of new, exciting information and entertainment that is aimed at us.
I have so many things playing on my mind, nagging at me to occupy me free time as well as my not so free time and my sleep time.
I have over a hundred non-fiction books to read in my wish-list. Ideas of improving my joint mobility and stretching on a daily basis, writing creatively, studying for new qualifications, keeping in touch with all my friends. The pull of passive entertainment: TV, films, books, magazines, blogs. “Have you heard about the latest box set…?”, “I hear he was Oscar nominated….”, “Click Here……”, “This Month: – The Secrets of Six-Pack Abs……”
How on earth can I tame this. Some ideas:
- Limit phone use drastically – being tied to the phone leads to constant distraction, the enemy of focus. It’s always too tempting to just check if there’s anything new on Facebook, reply to that text, participate in that WhatsApp chat etc.
- Create before succumbing to passive activity – passive activity should be a final wind down, a relaxing treat, not a regular habit
- Only read each blog that interests me once a month or less – they don’t need checking more regularly, the more I check them, the more ideas are introduced that I then don’t have time to follow. Paralysis by analysis ensues.
- Limit to half an hour of non-fiction reading a day – as with the previous point, taking on too many ideas and concepts is counter-productive.
- Read only fiction at bed time – fiction is a great way to calm and relax and bed time is not the time to start the mind racing with new ideas.
- Try to remember that I already have and do everything that I need to – companionship, love, family, fitness, health. Everything else is a bonus, just an extra cherry on top.
- Get out of the house and into nature if possible – again great for calming a racing mind
- Don’t feel guilty about winding down and doing activities with no particular goal in mind – this means genuinely fun or relaxing activities; socialising, meditation, cooking, exercising or whatever purely for the enjoyment of it, not because we are trying to “achieve”.
We need to remember that we live in an economy based around attention grabbing. We have to come to terms with the fact that there is more information, distraction and entertainment available to us that we could handle in a thousand lifetimes. We need to learn to accept that a lot of advertising is now predicated on making us feel like we’re missing out in order to sell us something to plug the gap. It’s tempting to engage and try to keep up but I feel that it’s better to find a way to step away from this river of noise, let it flow by and only choose what we want from it. What actually improves our lives rather than swimming in the middle trying to keep up with the flow.