Are We Addicted To Distraction?

October 4, 2015

Let’s face it, we’re all guilty of it – scrolling through our Facebook feeds to see what everyone else is up to, then refreshing the page just in case we missed anything, and then forgetting what we even went online to look at in the first place.

It’s kind of a condition we’re faced with these days, never really being ‘fully’ anywhere.

Always distracted. 

Can you remember the last time you stood in a queue and just looked around at life passing by? Or the last time you sat in a coffee shop waiting for a friend and simply took in what was going on around you instead of what was happening in social media world?

I know I can’t.

A friend told me that last week when she’d lost her phone, she stood in the hallway of her boyfriend’s house and waited for him to get ready, and literally didn’t know what to do with herself without her digital companion to keep her occupied.

She said it felt strange and uncomfortable to just stand and be.

Which got me to thinking that it genuinely seems as if we’re addicted to being distracted.

I’ve made a start in not relying on my phone to keep me company, and have made a conscious effort to read when I have a bit of time to spare instead. But although it makes me feel better by being technically ‘better for my mind’, it’s still essentially a form of distraction, as I’m still lost in a book rather than in the moment.

This statement from the film ‘Boyhood’ where a young boy talks to his girlfriend about her social media obsession, really sums up what’s going on for many of us:

“You have been, you know, checking your phone this whole time. I mean, so what are you really doing? You don’t care what your friends are up to on Saturday afternoon, but you’re also obviously not fully experiencing my profound bitching. So, it’s like everyone’s just stuck in, like, in in-between state, not really experiencing anything.”

And it’s so true. Our ‘in between state.’ So long as we’re sucked into the digital world, we’re never fully experiencing anything.

And as a result, we’re overwhelmed. Bombarded. Exhausted. Our minds never quite switch off as long as our mobiles, iPads and laptops are switched on (yep, definitely sitting surrounded by all three of those as I type this, with a podcast playing, and my book beside me just in case…)

I feel that this craziness is a good place for ‘Mindfulness’ to enter – which is something I’m focusing a lot on this month!

Mindfulness can be described as: ‘becoming more aware of what you are doing and thinking, and of what’s going on in your mind and body.’

Mindfulness is the act of experiencing the moment.

Mindfulness helps us to really uncover what we’re feeling and thinking and doing, so that we can either embrace it, or change it.

It helps us to slow down and instead of letting the world whizz by, we learn to enjoy the world and be a part of it!

And it’s amazing for relaxing our minds and releasing stresses too.

So with that in mind, here’s a mindfulness tip we could all benefit from in relation to our digital distraction addiction:

This week, switch off your electronics. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes (but try an hour if you can!)…

And just be.

Take in your surroundings. Notice how you feel. Think about what you’re thinking about. Smile at a stranger. Acknowledge the moment. Let go of all that digital noise. Enjoy the quiet. Look up. Look around. Just be.

And recognise how much calmer you instantly feel.

I’ve noticed that even with the act of switching off my phone, the pressure eases and I can focus more on what I need to in that time: whether that’s work, or reading, or thinking, or simply having a real life conversation. Remember those?

P.S. I’m taking part in ‘The Mindfulness Summit’ – 31 days of easy to follow mindfulness tips and talks, which will help you to reduce overwhelm and stress and provide ways to feel calmer and more content. You can join in here.

P.P.S. I’m sharing deeper insights and game-changing conversations on living a life that lights you up through my monthly email love letters – want in? —->


1 Comment

  • Reply Elliot January 12, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    This is so very true. As crazy as it sounds, the ability to switch off and just ‘be’ is something that takes practice. To push distractions away is like decluttering your mind, but once you reach a place where you can just be and don’t need to be distracted, I think it really is a sign of having a healthy and peaceful mind.

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