Many of us have recurring fantasies about throwing our cell phones out the window and sequestering ourselves on a remote island, since the nature of modern existence is fraught with dings, blips, and buzzes day in and day out. While technology is an unquestionable necessity in this day and age, so is maintaining balance.
It’s Okay to Be Hard to Get a Hold of
Many of us remember having to look around the neighborhood for a pile of bicycles on a front lawn to figure out where our friends were. Since then, we have transitioned to living “on-demand” lifestyles.
In a special edition of TIME Magazine called “The New Mindfulness,” Professor Daniel Levitin says in an article titled “How to Be Centered in a Crazy World,” that “we’re consuming more information than we can process and it’s setting off a fight-or-flight response that makes us feel overwhelmed.” Journalist Ginny Graves subsequently suggests creating the following boundaries with technology:
- Take a 15-minute break every two hours
- Check email no more than three times per day
- Skim emails and prioritize the ones that require a quick response, delete what you can, and flag the rest to read later when you’re under less pressure
- Delete distracting apps
- Turn off notifications
- Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” mode a few hours before bed and customize settings so you can still get calls from key people
In addition, you can offer to host a dinner party or game night in which all guests must place their phones and other communication devices into a basket by the front door. Encourage your friends and loved ones to enjoy conversation over the meal and bond during a board game or a playful activity like charades or Mad Libs.
Stop Telling Yourself Tasks Should Be a “No-Brainer”
The most important thing you can do in any stage of recovery is to be gentle with yourself. You may feel as if you previously had the ability to get things done much faster, or made fewer mistakes while performing seemingly routine tasks. Professor Levitin says in the same article that “a single unread email can be such a distraction, it affects you as if you’ve lost 10 IQ points.” Use “The Spoon Theory” as a tool to measure your daily energy expenditure and prioritize, so that one unread email doesn’t affect your ability to focus or complete high executive function tasks.
Consult a general practitioner or naturopathic doctor to help you determine if you are deficient in any nutrients and eat nutrient-dense foods, drink plenty of water, and get adequate rest to recharge and fuel your command center.
Busy Is a Choice
Some say that idle hands do the devil’s work, but many use being “busy” as an avoidance tactic. Are you regularly carving out time for play and rest? The structured scheduling of an inpatient or outpatient program helps us build a stable foundation to get back on our feet but it’s up to us to keep it strong. Art therapy, animal therapy, making indulgent snacks and watching a movie with a group of peers, and so many other activities we participate in during treatment are designed to help us cultivate joy.
There’s an App for That
While being enslaved by your pocket-computer isn’t great for your mental health, here’s a list of apps that help more than they harm:
- Users report how enjoyable the voice-led meditations are. Sessions focus on a variety of tools, including mindfulness, body scans with paired muscle relaxation, and even self-esteem. Most of the sessions are under five minutes, which is perfect for even the busiest of bees.
- Free, with a premium option at $59.99 per year
- Find AA, NA, Al-Anon, and Alateen meetings based on time, day, and location. Pink Cloud also tracks days sober, meeting attendance, what step you’re on, and it allows you to log your inventory and resentments on the go.
- Free, with premium options at $.99 for one month, $4.99 for a six-month subscription, and $9.99 per year
- It’s easy to see why Headspace has four stars with over 552K ratings in the app store. Guided meditations are separated into convenient modules such as Basics, Essentials, Stress & Anxiety, Falling Asleep & Waking Up, and Personal Growth.
- Free with a premium option at $12.99 per month, $95.88 for a year, or $399.99 for a lifetime membership
- Track total days, hours, minutes, seconds of sobriety and equally sobering information such as dollars saved and units not drank.
- Over 450 Dialectical Behavioral Therapy questions from all four DBT skill groups (Mindfulness, Interpersonal Communication Skills, Distress Tolerance Skills, Emotional Regulation Skills) in a fun, trivia-style game. Brush up on your DBT skills during downtime, or use as a self-soothing distraction tool.
- The official app of the Alcoholics Anonymous World Service Organization. Search for AA meetings by name or location, read Daily Reflections, and more.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health challenges and addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. At Burning Tree, you will find knowledgeable and compassionate professionals that structure treatment to fit individual needs, including the identification of co-occurring disorders. Through accountability and commitment to the 12 Steps, each client will develop the tools to create a sober lifestyle and find lasting recovery. We specialize in the treatment of chronic relapsers and believe with the right support you can experience true and permanent healing. For more information, call us now at (866)-287-2877.