The past decade we have seen immense progression with technology. From social media, to hand held computing machines we call phones, we have entered a world of the electronic brain. Neuroscience & Psychology have fast tracked research watching our brains rewire bringing Quantum Physics to the forefront. We are what we see and think, and as a society we look at a screen via phone, tv, computer, all day long. How is this affecting our brain functioning?
A recent study by Timothy Wilson and colleagues at Harvard University & the University of VA, found the majority of participants of all ages resisted being alone with their thoughts. Most participants preferred to do something, rather than use their imagination for a few minutes, even if the activity was something negative like shocking themselves. This is what they found:
“In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.”
Timothy D. Wilson et all., “ Which would you prefer-Do Nothing or Receive Electric Shocks!” Science 345, no. 6192 (2014): 75-77.
Neuroplasticity means our brain changes and is rewired by what we choose to think and look upon. There is a place for technology in our lives. Too much of a good thing, regardless of what it is, is not good for us. Most of us would say we like ice cream, however eating ice cream everyday is not good for our health. Can you eat ice cream and not smile and feel happy? I find myself smiling every time I eat it, and observe the same for others regardless of what country I am in. And yet, it’s important to moderate our intake, and enjoy ice cream as a treat.
For our mental self care, we are needing to moderate our use of technology. Let’s use it for our benefit, and put it away to have meaningful interaction with others. I often spend time sitting in my backyard, listening to the birds sing! My mind wanders, and I relax swinging in my hammock. When I describe this to others, I am often questioned how I can just sit there. As an introvert, this is my way to recharge. The challenge for me is to socialize. For an extrovert who enjoys socializing, there is more of a challenge to sit alone with random thoughts.
Are we avoiding our true feelings by being busy with our devices, working, socializing, even studying and reading? To practice mental self care, let’s allow ourselves to be. Sit still without any music, tv, away from our phone; and just allow our minds to wander. Begin slowly with 30 seconds, then a minute daily. Journal the experience, so you can acknowledge progress.
This form of mental self care will build a resilience in our thought processes. When faced with challenges, we will be able to find better control of our emotions and focus our thoughts. When we can be comfortable with our random thoughts and feelings in a relaxed state, this is when we will begin to foster skills for diverse stressors. We deflect our emotions by engaging with social media, tv, and always being busy. This enables us to cover our emotions and never acknowledge, feel and process them.
Today, give yourself permission to just be. Being comfortable with your thoughts and feelings is a great step to loving yourself as a person. This is what an authentic self is: comfortable with our thoughts. Let’s begin our mental self care regimen of sitting still daily. We won’t be able to manage stress until we can manage our mind, and this takes being accepting our thoughts and feelings as they occur. This brings connection, and awareness so we can focus our thoughts to form positive thinking patterns that will lead us to success.