Lately I've been wondering how all the digital gadgets that we've become so attached to affect our levels of stress. In other words, the eyes are taking in more light and stimulation than ever and perhaps the brain is over activated leaving us feeling anxious much of the time and in order to avoid our anxiety we turn back to the gadgets. Could this be true? And if so, could it be a self-reinforcing vicious cycle?
I'll out myself now and say I am pro-technology and among colleagues have been known to be that guy who has always tried to find the synergy between mindfulness, psychotherapy and technology.
However, I've noticed myself grabbing my phone while walking short distances to check any messages that may be there. When I don't grab my phone, I recognize a bit of anxiety running through my body. That really made me think, the more interaction I have with the multitude of digital devices out there, the more my mind and body want it.
I'm not pointing to an addiction here, but simply a natural cause and effect that likely has a psychological underpinning, certainly has a social one -- but could very well have a biological one as well.
This of course varies among people, but for most of the people that I know (even the most mindful ones), I have become aware of the frenetic attachment to their digital devices checking e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and all the thousands of applications that make for eye and mind candy.
The fact is that none of this is inherently good or bad, but is worth looking at to see how it's affecting our lives.
Because if our most valuable resource is our attention and much of the time that attention is pulled toward our phones, iPads, computers, etc., then what part of life are we missing out on?
Maybe we fail to see the smile of our baby, or the first bloom in spring, or perhaps don't taste the delicious meal we're eating. All of these experiences support feeling well and resiliency during difficult times.
This isn't a definitive guide to our mental health and relationships with digital devices, but simply a post to make us go hmm....
As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Adapted from a publication on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy at Psychcentral.com. Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is Co-author of "A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook". You may also find him at www.drsgoldstein.com.