Staying Mindful in a Digital Age via @brie_e_anderson
Every day I woke up, checked my phone, turned on a podcast, got ready, headed to work, and checked my email.
By the time I got to the last step, I knew how the rest of the day was going to go. My leg would either be shaking frantically or my eyes would be glazed over – it seemed as if there was no in-between.
There was always so much happening and so much I needed to know and do. That is, until I found mindfulness and techniques that worked for me.
Mindfulness & Anxiety
I had grown to get used to the constant changing and bombardment of content. I’d imagine most in this industry had as well.
But my anxiety was through the roof; my mind was always moving a mile a minute. I couldn’t sit in a quiet room, I never sat still and my heart was pounding out of my chest more times than not.
A year ago, I decided to head back to therapy and get the help I needed. My very first formal appointment was focused all around the thing I hated the most: mindfulness.
Mindfulness Tools & Techniques
We sat there and went through a meditation tape. I didn’t close my eyes, I didn’t sit still, I felt so uncomfortable.
After the tape ended, my therapist told me that we needed to work on being mindful and controlling my thoughts.
Through my time with her, my research and tons of trial and error, I found a few tricks that seem to help.
1. The Daily Mantra
To some, this will definitely seem weird and I get it! It’s not for everyone, but it is something that I have found very useful.
I journal every morning and in that journal, I list my three mantras for the day. Every single day one of my mantras is “I am in control of my thoughts and feelings.”
It’s far too easy to let the content I consume or the changes I face affect my thoughts and feelings.
An algorithm change may mean a month and a half more of work on a site, an additional ad placement could mean a lost position on Page 1, but it is important that I remain in control of my reactions, thoughts, and feelings.
So when those things happen, I just say my mantra over and over until I can ground myself.
2. Setting Timers
I couldn’t even guess how much content I consume in a day.
I don’t like silence (still) so I’m always listening to something. I keep my Twitter feed open all day and I read more industry articles than I can implement. That is one end of my spectrum.
Other times I’m hyper-focused. I can work on a site for five hours straight without getting up or eating.
It took me a long time, but I’ve finally realized that neither end of that spectrum is healthy.
A good friend of mine, Brian Fanzo, once suggested setting timers. Again, it seems weird, but it seems to work.
Now, before I start something I decide how much time I can spend on it, that way I don’t get caught up and work (or play) too long.
Obviously this isn’t necessary for every activity, but for those activities I know speak to either end of my spectrum, timers have been a massive help.
3. Listening to Nature Sound Streams
This is something that I just recently got into. Like I’ve said many times already, silence is not my friend. I usually have headphones in and for the longest time I listened to podcasts.
The problem I ran into, however, was that I would get anxious trying to keep up with what the podcast was saying and what I was supposed to be doing. So, I needed an alternative.
There are a few sounds that always calm me down.
The first is baby giggles, but it would be weird to listen to that all day every day.
However, the second thing is nature. I love listening to birds chirping, rain falling, campfires or waves hitting the beach.
Oddly enough, I have found that almost every platform I consume audio on has nature sound streams which means I can listen to nature sounds all day!
Not only has this helped me avoid the heaviness of silence, but whenever I get overwhelmed I can simply close my eyes and go somewhere else.
I could be on a beach or camping or anywhere I want to be. I can get away, take a few deep breaths and regain my footing.
What Mindfulness Boils Down To
The biggest lesson I’ve learned on my journey to mindfulness in this digital world is that it’s important to know why you’re consuming content.
My fear of silence stems from the fear of my own thoughts. I’ve spent a lot of time drowning out the silence with unnecessary noise because, as Brene Brown would say, I numb out on the content.
The thing I have the hardest time with is knowing when I’m numbing and when I’m actually being productive.
I’ve started to take steps in the right direction, but in the world, we live and work in, it’s easy to fall off the horse.
I just have to keep noticing when I fall and work at hoisting myself back up. I get a little better and a little more mindful every day.
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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita