I arrive for a catch up at my local cafe, after kisses, hugs and initial hellos the first thing I do is pull out my phone placing it on the table. We all have our phones handy. In my mind I think it is because we are all mums and you never know if you’re going to get that dreaded call from the school nurse. Although to be honest a few of us are wearing watches on our wrist that alert us to calls, or text messages even if our phones were tucked away in our handbag. It is just a habit, or maybe more than that, it is an expectation. I know when I text, or call my hubby at work I expect a response within a reasonable time frame, even if he’s in a meeting he usually sees on his watch that he has missed my call and hits the auto reply “I am in a meeting’. It is instantaneous and we are a society that has come to expect that.
It is the life we live now, instant gratification, no waiting. Not just regarding text messages calls, or emails, we don’t want to wait for anything. We shop and just tap a card, it is almost annoying when it is over one hundred dollars as we have to actually put in a PIN number. We have become a tap and go society, so much so that some people are even forgetting to use their manners and say thank you for the service. People are becoming increasingly impatient at fast food stores and drive thru food outlets, as well as at fancy restaurants, instead of waiting patiently for their cheeseburger they are abusing the poor teenager behind the counter and thinking it is their right to be angry at someone who is barely out of primary school.
What is making us so impatient? With all these instantaneous things shouldn’t we have loads of free time to relax and not feel so rushed?
If you are reading this put up your hand if . .
- You record TV programs so you can fast forward adds?
- Choose to watch shows that have no adds?
- If a show does have adds do you use that time to check your phone, or social media?
- If you are sat alone waiting for a friend at a cafe do you sit and watch life go by, or check your phone?
- Do you even take your phone/iPad to the toilet? (it is OK no one can see your hand up).
- On public transport do you look out to the view, or just sit and take some deep breaths to relax, or check, or play on your phone?
- When you are waiting for your takeaway order, do you check your email, maybe text someone, or check social media?
- Do you start to worry if you haven’t heard back from someone within ten minutes of messaging them? An hour? Two hours? All day?
- Do you feel guilty if you don’t answer every call? Or text straight back?
I am sure you all answered differently, but I could almost be sure that many of you put up your hand, or nodded yes to many of these!
We have forgotten the joys delayed gratification, and we are modelling our poor behaviour to the younger generation, teaching them our impatient behaviour.
It can make us feel extremely awkward and even guilty if we do not answer every phone call. For many of us, leaving our phone in another room can feel weird, like we are missing something. Recently I started putting my phone on silent more often, and leaving my watch off at home. I have missed loads of calls lately, eventually I check my phone and see that out of maybe 5 missed calls only 1 or 2 people have actually left a message. I figure if it is important they will leave a message and I will get back to them when I can. Most of the messages have just been people checking in or saying hi, and saying no need to call them back. If I don’t have time to call them back, I usually send a quick message saying thank you for thinking of me today.
Last night I had two occasions where the phone rang at an inconvenient time. The first was my sister calling whilst my teenager was upset and needing a hug/mummy time. She looked at the phone as if I would answer it, I said to her ‘it’s ok, you need me right now, I can call my sister back later’. The second was when my son was wanting to play a game with me, we were having fun making up stories by just saying a word each until they made up silly sentences. My best friend started to call, just like my daughter, this time my eight year old son looked at me like I would answer it, I said, “it’s ok let’s keep playing and I’ll call her back after we finish.”
In both those moments my interaction with my children became my priority, I knew if either my sister, or friend needed me desperately they would try again, or leave an urgent text for me to see. Sometimes our children need to understand we have to answer some calls, like when we are working from home, or if we know the person who is calling has been having a hard time. Other times it is important to let our children know that our time with them is precious, and that a phone call, or text can wait.
It is not just about giving our children, or partners our attention though, it is about our own wellbeing. Our brains are fatigued, we are suffering from ‘brain drain’ in this overstimulated, never shut off society. At at time where technology is allowing us to connect with people easier than ever, family members all over the world and also allowing us to get things done quicker, we are filling up our spare time with more and more, to the point where we are becoming impatient, rude and more aggressive to shop assistants, people in hospitality, and having increased road rage. Our brains are too tired to think clearly, screen time is fine at a healthy level, but we all know by now (yet conveniently forget) that the light emitted from these devices are causing us to become restless, and have a harder time falling asleep. We check our emails, or social media before trying to sleep, instead of unwinding with a book, meditation, stretching, or cuddling with our partner. In the morning we wake up and check instagram, it is causing us to be tired on a level we never used to be.
Now I am not going to start suggesting we lock our phones away 3 hours before bed, or anything extreme. Sometimes we need to be reachable. We have parents who may be ill, children who may be out, or it may be part of our business that we have to answer the phone up until a certain time in the evening. We do, however, have to have a cut off time. A time before bed where we pop our phone on silent and don’t look at social media. Personally I love social media, well Instagram, it’s my happy space, where I only follow feeds that make me smile, inspire me, share happy things, pretty things or are feeds of loved ones. Even though I enjoy Instagram I still have to limit my time on it, as I can get lost on it for hours. I think the key to social media is only following people who you enjoy, or that are inspiring, following negative feeds on any social media platform, (and even certain television shows, like negative a current affair programs), can leave you feeling angry, helpless, frustrated and scared. If you are scrolling through feeds that are making you feel anxious, angry, or making you feel like the only way to ever be happy is to have the ‘perfect home’, ‘perfect body’, ‘perfect car’, and go on vacation every second day then it is probably best to unfollow those feeds. Basically don’t torture yourself, and make sure you un-friend toxic people.
In order to be healthy in mind and body there are certain things we require, basics like healthy food, water, hygiene, fresh air, sunlight, a great sleep, and exercise, these are well known to us. We also require mental stimulation, to learn, be challenged and be inspired, we require the company of others and down time. Yes down time! We need to give our minds some space. Just like when a room is so cluttered we can barely move, if our mind is over stimulated, or cluttered then it is hard for us to learn, think, make good decisions, and be healthy.
Below are some ways to clear a little more space in your life and your brain.
- Have Boundaries in Place. Like I said above, I am not saying lock your phone away 3 hours before bed, but it is a great idea to think about your current habits and whether they are working for you, be honest! Ideally not looking at your phone for an hour before sleep is ideal. Unless you’re using your phone as a meditation tool, such as having a calming app, or calming sleep music, then turn your phone to silent and turn off any alerts.
- Try to Embrace Silence. This will no doubt feel strange at first, but try to just be silent whilst waiting for your takeaway coffee, or whilst waiting to be called into a doctors appointment. Practice mindful breathing, or just observe what is happening around you, or inside of you. Don’t pick up your phone the second you are asked to wait for something. Great ideas, or ‘light bulb’ moments often occur in silent moments of clarity.
- Place Limits on Your Phone/Screen Time. When it comes to scrolling through social media it is a healthy idea to place a time limit on it, enjoy the time you are on it, and then turn off your phone and spend sometime doing something else you love, a hobby you’ve been neglecting perhaps.
- Face to Face. Try to schedule in face to face time with people whose company you enjoy, and think, if you haven’t looked at their latest posts on Facebook you will actually have more to talk about and share.
Technology has brought us wonderful things, and made life easier, but not necessarily simpler. Remember that there are so many beautiful real life moments, let’s try harder not to miss them.
Thank you for reading, after leaving a comment why not turn off your phone and go explore the great outdoors, love, Mac xx