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Mindful Media in a Time of Distraction

Do you feel addicted to your phone and/or other devices? Do you feel lost and uneasy without them? Most people would answer yes because they were designed with that purpose. It has become a societal problem which we all can kind of joke about it. However, it has created an almost inability to be able to be alone with ourselves, our thoughts and feelings. You may believe you need to check the news or your favorite social media accounts because of that fear of missing out or being uninformed. You may get lost on Instagram or Facebook for hours unintentionally, focusing and comparing your life to the highlight reel of others. You perhaps find yourself getting hooked by sensationalized headlines that can overwhelm you and leave you feeling powerless. Or maybe you feel a burden of unrealistic expectation and pressure to respond to texts and emails immediately. Without mindful intention around your media use, you may notice your energy being drained and time being wasted.

As these habits progress, we lose not only time, but connection to our own lives. We begin to lose our sense of purpose and drive. We can become depressed because we are not living the "dream life" we may see presented on social media. Or anxious and filled with dread from all the terrible news stories. We can become disconnected to ourselves, our fears, worries, passions and dreams. Media use is a way to actually avoid our own feelings and life struggles. It gives us a feeling of being busy but really we are just distracted.

If you can relate to any of this, you are not alone and it is OK to be honest with yourself. You can reclaim your life. Where do you start? Set media limits for yourself. This may require taking apps off of your phone and/or turning your phone off or putting it away when not in use. Really look at your daily schedule and determine a specific time frame or maybe two when you can you relax and enjoy your favorite social media platforms or news sites and be disciplined about it. When you are on your device, choose intentionally what you are going to invest your time in. Notice which stories, posts and headlines tend to hook you. Take a mindful pause to check in with your body, heart and thoughts. Notice when leaving the post what residue is left behind. Email and texting also need intention and thought about what is actually urgent and set up specific times that you check them.

Those stories, headlines, emails and texts can hook you to feel like you must give your attention to them but what needs your attention is your own life. So many people complain about not having enough time but setting media use limits (this can include binge watching shows:) frees up time for you to be present for your life in many ways. Perhaps that favorite hobby, being out doors, reading, journaling, exercising, and of course spending quality time with our loved ones. It allows you to know yourself more and what matters to you most. You will find that gratitude and appreciation for your own life will expand as you are more present for it.

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