I’ve borrowed the title for this post from Arianna Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’. I’ve been reading it slowly and savouring her lessons, for about 2 months now. So much of what she offers resonates with me.

This week I’ve been diving into the section on Wisdom and the piece on Time, how we use it and how we allow technology to distract us from real life. I find this to be a challenging, inspiring and often uncomfortable topic. In ‘Thrive’ Huffington writes that “mastering the art of slowing down doesn’t happen quickly. Learning the wisdom of slowing down, of truly living, is itself a journey. But it is also a prescription for better health.” I know that constantly rushing around, multi-tasking and eating on the run is a recipe for exhaustion, high blood pressure and a short life.

I know this and yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in my terribly important to-do list. It’s magnificently tempting to spend the entire day responding to notifications from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Social Media Blog Pic

What does all this have to do with time? I think it goes back to the obsession our culture has with time and the sense that we simply never have enough. Everything runs faster now than ever before, from our computers to our sex lives to how we eat. The more we schedule our lives, the more rushed we feel. Social media adds to the feeling that we are missing out. If we don’t continuously scan our timeline and check our emails, we might miss something exciting or important. We might miss an opportunity to promote ourselves or learn an essential skill or lesson.

Staying connected with our own bodies and the other humans that we love brings so much nourishment, creativity and joy. The real human connections that we make support us through challenging times and help us to find our way when things get hard. Giving more love to our smart phones than our humans leads to a pretty unbalanced relationship. We get nothing in return. We feel dissatisfied and hungry for real human connection.

Consider these truths…
  • Rushing through life & burning the candle at both ends can lead to packing on the pounds. Lack of sleep messes with almost every body system and is guaranteed to cause hormone imbalances and weight gain.
  • It takes about 20 minutes from the time you start eating for the brain to register fullness and send out the signal to stop eating. Gulping down food, without paying attention to what you’re doing leads to over-eating. Leisurely eating allows time for this signal of satiety to register and also allows the body to produce appropriate digestive enzymes, leading to better digestion and smaller portions.
  • Speed aversely affects creativity and work too – “When creativity is under the gun, it usually ends up getting killed” (Research from the Harvard Business Review)
  • Extend this idea of creativity in work, to creating a baby. Slow sex increases libido and supports healthy ovulation. Rushing & stressing can result in inhibition of ovulation. No ovulation = No baby.

Changing how we live and relate to others is not easy. Social media and the devices we use to connect aren’t the only problem, but they are powerful drivers of behaviour. The addiction that we have to our devices has been compared in research to any other addiction – drugs, sex, shopping… The anticipation we feel when we hear that familiar notification ping elicits the same response as that in a heroin addict before they get their next hit. The culprit? Dopamine – a neurotransmitter that causes us to want, desire, seek out & search. This is critical to survival, but we now know that the dopamine system doesn’t have satiety built in. It will keep saying “more, more more”, causing you to keep seeking, to keep checking for texts, emails or comments on your latest post. It is the promise of reward that we are getting addicted to.

Preventing this kind of endless need for stimulation and reward requires some discipline, but one very simple change you can make for immediate benefit is to TURN OFF NOTIFICATIONS. You’ll get more work done and you’ll feel more connected and present to whatever you’re doing. Lately I’ve been putting my phone on airplane mode for 90 minutes at a time while I work. I choose to spend 5 minutes or so on Facebook & Instagram to connect with friends, read an article or get inspiration and I enjoy the time I spend there. It’s a habit I’m building and I’m far form perfect, but I am getting better at choosing when to log on, rather than letting my devices decide for me.

Are you obsessed with managing your schedule? Are you attached to your smart phone? Is there a voice in your head saying ‘Hurry, Hurry, Hurry’?

I decided to finish work at 5pm yesterday. I left my phone in the office, prepared a meal and shared it with my husband in the sunshine, without distraction. When we drove to a local park for a walk, I almost grabbed the phone, for the obligatory selfie…but resisted. (Does anyone really care about my selfie?) Instead we walked and talked, without pings or bings or rings. We lay on the grass. We chatted for 2 hours and it was GOOD. Oh it was good.

Blog Pic Couple

What’s your relationship with social media like? Do you need to set some boundaries around how you use it? What about how you work, how you eat & sleep? I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts and stories… Share in the comments section below and please, if it resonates, share with a friend.

Ruth x