Technology has been a saving grace for many of us during the pandemic by enabling many of us to work from home and connect with our loved ones. Although there are several benefits to technology, how we relate to it and allow it to consume us can become detrimental. Working from home has forced some to be connected to their devices far longer than pre-covid working expectations. Furthermore, short breaks throughout the day are often filled with even more technology, as we reflexively scroll through our phones checking text messages, the news, and social media – very rarely pausing and actually taking a breath for ourselves.
Through the use of technology, we’ve developed some bad habits – to react to every sound and every vibration. Checking our devices can trigger the release of dopamine, making us feel happy and triggering the reward system in our brain, which can make it hard to put our phone down. Technology has also become an expert at keeping us awake. The blue light emitted from screens starts to shift our sleep rhythm, tricking the body into believing it is still meant to be awake.
So how can we balance the pros and cons of technology while creating a safer, more mindful relationship with it? Here are some tips to consider when you’re using technology:
The “3 Gates”
Get into the habit of asking yourself these 3 questions before you engage with technology
- Is it necessary that I engage with it right now?
- Will the content be helpful or authentic?
- Will the content embody self-compassion?
If you have a hunch that turning on the TV or scrolling through your phone will not fit this criteria, perhaps you don’t truly need it at that moment. You can then devote that time to doing something more fulfilling.
Social Media “Clean up”
Consider cleaning up your social media newsfeed by unfollowing accounts that don’t help you foster a mindful mindset. And don’t feel bad if you need to mute or unfollow a friend or family member who constantly posts things that bring up difficulty or anxious feelings. Remember, we can’t control others but we can control how we respond to them.
Practice Mental Noting & Open Awareness
This practice is different from other types of meditations in that you are simply noting what is arising, not focusing on one specific thing. By practicing mental noting on a regular basis, it will help you to realize that there is actually a choice in between these moments, where the stimulus (phone vibrating, receiving an email notification, etc.) and our response (checking/responding immediately) occurs. Rather than simply following these notifications by reflex, you can take a moment to pause, step back, and engage with intention.
Minimize Technology Before Bedtime
Instead, try practicing a body scan, sleep meditation or even writing down three things you are grateful for. This can help you to wind down and tune out noise from the day. The Centre offers various evidence based mindfulness programs such as MBSR that can help improve your sleep, lower blood pressure and lead to fewer worries.
As we continue to reap the benefits of technology, it’s important to be grateful while also learning to be more intentional and a little less reactive when engaging with our devices.