Today more than ever we are constantly tethered to technology and communication. When we think about how we communicate with each other, often the first thing that comes to mind isn’t the phone, it’s email. However, social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and others are rapidly competing to become the communication channel of choice with advanced in online voice and video technology. As we sit at our desks, we usually have a number of these communication platforms open, either as an application or as a web page and they each have sneaky methods to get our attention when something happens – popups, sound alerts etc.
With so much information streaming right into our eyeballs it’s no wonder people are suffering from stress. Our brains are simply not equipped (or we have not yet evolved enough) to cope with information in such enormous volumes.
The way I see it, our brains are like a drinking glass and every bit of information we take in fills up that glass just a little bit. Now when we open all these communication channels and information pours in through email, social, web, news, television, radio, magazines, road signs, and the list goes on, the glass quickly fills up. Soon enough we are at capacity and if we try to take in any more information the glass will overflow. The overflow can manifest itself as stress, anxiety, fear or sometimes in more extreme ways such as mental breakdowns.
We need time. Time to consume and “taste” the information we added to the glass. It’s very difficult to digest the information we’ve captured while continuing to take in more. And that’s when we should disconnect. When the glass is so full that we’re about to overflow, we need to quickly cut off all sources of information. Everything. And just sit a while. Breathe. When the glass gets too full you can almost feel it (your mind and thoughts) starting to shake violently wanting to explode and spew its contents everywhere in a tangled mess. By disconnecting we give ourselves the time needed for our minds to go through the information in the glass. To sort through it, discarding unnecessary items and keeping others. Disconnect. The glass will stop shaking and the level will start to drop. Disconnect and let yourself become human again, at least for a little while.
It’s much easier than you think to take a step back and disconnect. You can do it everyday if you like. It can be as simple as turning off the television at night and spending some time just talking to a spouse or close friend. Talking as in face to face, in real-life, in person – a kind of concept that is losing it’s meaning these days. It doesn’t even have to be a conversation of any real depth. The mere act of connecting with real people in the real world gives your mind a new context to process the mountain of information it has consumed. Also, when you turn of the television, the computer and your phone, you’ll feel an immediate sense of relief, like a great weight has been lifted off you. This is turning off the stream of information. Right away your mind will start to really think about all the information it’s consumed, and you may not even know it. Our minds our so powerful that often we have no idea what they are doing. The subconscious is much more complex and efficient than the conscious mind since it doesn’t have the concept of “time”. When we disconnect from all these information sources, we give our conscious and subconscious mind the freedom to be creative. And as the information we’ve captured in the glass starts to be processed, and the mind gains momentum, you’ll feel refreshed, revitalised and ready to re-engage.
Disconnect. It gives your mind time. Time to sort through everything you’ve seen, heard, touched, smelled and tasted; everything you’ve experienced. When you’re disconnected, try to bring the best experiences of the day to the front of your mind and relive them. These are the memories you will carry with you, forever. I’ve found that a great way to do this is to start a journal or a diary. When your mind is so full it’s about to explode, start writing things down. It doesn’t even have to be in any order. You’ll find that when you start to write about something, all the information you’ve consumed about that something will flow right out onto the page. This has the added benefit of freeing up your brain-space to capture new information and experiences. And, you can come back to your memories at any time. In this way, your memories will also become your legacy, and, if you so choose, can be read and consumed by the minds of future generations. I’ve actually started keeping a journal in Evernote so I can jot down my thoughts at any time of the day no matter where I am.
Disconnect and take time each day to let your mind go through what you’ve learnt that day. It only takes about 20 minutes and you’ll free great. Of course, nothing beats a holiday for really disconnecting and, as rare as they are for a lot of us, they are highly recommended.
How do you disconnect and let the information you’ve been exposed to sink in? Leave your thoughts in the comments.