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Complementary Corner

De-stress from Technology

Renee Lehman

(7/2014) In the last article I used this quote by the Dalai Lama: "Technology is good. It's when we let it control us that it becomes a bad thing." This is so true! Technology in itself does not automatically make us stressed out. Itís all about how we manage the technology that we use, and our thoughts about the technology.

Among people in their early 20s, those who use their cell phones and computers a lot (defined by criteria such as receiving and answering at least 11 phone calls or text messages per day) are more likely to struggle with depression and problems sleeping, especially if they see technology as being stressful in the first place (Thomee, S., et al., BMC Public Health, January, 2011, @ www.biomedcentral.com/bmcpublichealth). Plus, the stress levels donít decrease just by turning off or putting your smartphone or tablet away.

Face it, technology is everywhere. You cannot hide from it. So, how can you cope with technology in a way that will keep your stress levels low?

Stop checking your work e-mail after work hours (or while at home). Did you know that 83% of all respondents to an Osterman Research Survey (which consisted of 213 workers, half of whom were in the Instructional Technology sector) said that they checked their e-mail after work hours.

A Gallup poll done in May, 2014, conducted on 4,475 adult U.S. workers, found that almost 50 percent of workers who frequently use work e-mail outside of normal working hours, reported feeling stressed "a lot of the day," as compared with around a third of those who don't check work e-mail after-hours www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/09.

Get moving. Go for a walk, a hike, sit by the ocean or out on your patio. What do you hear, see, and smell? Learn what itís like to experience the Great Outdoors without an Instagram feed. Leave your technology at home. Enough said!

Explore an undiscovered area without a map app. Sometimes we discover great "finds" by not being focused on getting to a specific location. When is the last time that you went for a stroll? Be flexible and allow time for roaming, and I donít mean "roaming" in reference to your smartphone!

Take an art class. Or take any type of class that requires you to use your creative side.

Participate in the National Day of Unplugging which is scheduled for March 6-7, 2015 (www.nationaldayofunplugging.com/). But, donít wait until 2015 to unplug for 24 hours or longer. Take an "e-mail vacation," or a "texting vacation" to reduce stress. Try it out over a long weekend and make sure to let everyone know you wonít be available.

Go on a silent retreat. That is, give yourself a silent retreat by putting your phone on silent! And, yes, you could go on a silent retreat. There are many ways to create more quiet time in

your life.

Plan ahead to check text messages, etc. in bulk at specific times of the day. We have all been there: refreshing our e-mail inbox every few seconds or checking to see if someone has texted use in the last few minutes. Why do you think that you have to respond to every text immediately? This just adds more stress. Pick specific times each day to check and reply to your messages.

Spread the word that you are changing your technology habits. Inform your friends and family that you are changing your technology practices. Then they wonít inundate you with consecutive texts, etc. asking why you have not replied to their messages.

Try the "phone-stacking" game. When you are out with a group of friends, have everyone put his or her smartphone in the center of the table, one on top of the other, and no oneís allowed to touch the pile. The first person to reach for their phone has to pay the whole bill!

Read a book (one that you physically have to hold and turn the actual pages). Relearn the experience of the smell of a book, the feel of holding a book, and being able to write notes in the margins!

Have a phone-free party/dinner/gathering. Just leave your smartphone at home or in the car. That way, during a conversation you will be making a conscious effort to pay attention to what the other person is saying, instead of half-listening and half-scrolling through Twitter. You will then genuinely get something out of that interaction.

Make it impossible to connect to your technology, especially when driving! Put your smartphone on the back seat, or in your purse/glove compartment. Or, just donít take your smartphone with you everywhere you go. That way, you can be more in the present moment. Practice mindfulness!

People watch (gets your head up!). Since technology does have its benefits, I would recommend that you watch the following video, Look Up. Written, performed and directed by Gary Turk, it is an important life lesson for our "online" youth: WWW.blog.petflow.com/a-video-everyone-needs-to-see It is priceless!

Just say no.

Twitter feeds, Facebook walls, Instagram feeds, and constant e-mail access can create the illusion that we can keep up with everything going on around us. But efforts to stay on top of world news as well as our familyís schedule can be overwhelming. Instead try to accept that itís not possible to keep track of absolutely everything happening in the world. Figure out what is most important to you, and say "no" to everything else.

So let technology support your life, not ruin it!

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist, physical therapist, and Reiki Master with over 20 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA.  She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman