Some days I wish I could revisit a child’s life of fearless curiosity—the joy of colors, textures, and experiences carrying the day.
Instead, our days are about the modern notion of succeeding more, living a better life, fulfilling our potential, and doing more in 24 little hours. (You know the messages I mean.) I think we’re better off making the days we have as good as possible.
How can we do that when we are bombarded with information? You don’t have to go to a digital detox camp. Try out one, or all, of these ideas to rediscover your authentic self, and find peace of mind in our blue light-saturated days and nights.
Shut off or manage exposure to blue light.
Turn off the phone periodically. If I don’t anticipate an emergency, I shut off my phone at night, or place it in another room. I let my loved ones know about my practice. Ditto for the iPad or tablet, and TV. I control when I use it, and how I use it, and sleep and feel better as a result.
Block exposure to blue light. Knowledge of the harmful effects of blue light is not new. Now blue light blocker lenses are clear with or without a prescription. I also downloaded f.lux on all my devices. It adjusts the screen from bright during the day, to warm at night.
Go old school.
Read an actual book, not a download. Focus on reading. The physical experience of turning pages, and becoming immersed in another reality, is calming. We remember content better when reading from a book instead of a digital device, too.
Listen to records or a transistor radio. Record sales outsold CD sales for the first time ever in 2019. A new quality turntable, receiver, and two speakers cost around $200. Pull out your old records, or go to a used record store, and listen to music the way the creators wanted. Carry a transistor radio everywhere. No internet required. At most, you’ll pay 20 bucks for the radio, and a few on batteries.
Have friends over. Cook, eat, drink, talk, play games. Focus on face-to-face conversations, and invite friends who play musical instruments. Spend time using colored pencils and paper. The stress-related hormone cortisol lowers after several minutes of art creation.
Go on a cortisol fast.
Avoid the news, social media, and situations where you compare yourself to others. This is an idea that never gets old. Sometimes I stop reading, watching, or listening to the news for a day, or a few, at a time to calm my mind and spirit. Some days, when I’m feeling stressed, I stop looking at social media and turn off notifications when the phone is on. If stopping is too hard, it helps to limit news exposure to a specific time and amount.
I rarely read women’s magazines anymore, and when I do I read with emotional armor. The reason? They tell me I am not enough. (Men’s magazines tell them the same thing!)
Them: You should be stronger, better looking, bigger there but smaller there, more successful, more energetic, more introspective, more generous, more social.
Us: We’re not enough. We need to quit our jobs, create a million-dollar start-up, and write a bestseller about it. We need new and improved products, from phones and televisions, to bras and eyeliner.
These messages are at the heart of consumerism or not-enough-ism. By the way, you are enough.
Go outside. I recently came across videos with analog photos of “why my parents were cooler than I am.” The interesting thing is that they were of people doing things outdoors—Dad posing by a Mustang or motorcycle, Mom and Dad long-haired and good-looking at an Allman Brothers concert, or Mom standing outside of an airplane she was about to pilot. They were active, outdoors, and having fun. Besides being physically engaged in something, being near nature has a calming effect.
Move through your day mindfully and spend time alone.
Maybe I cannot, or do not want to, sit for an hour or even 30 minutes meditating, but I can be aware of my actions in pieces. I prepare a meal and sit to eat it without distraction instead of scarfing it down over the kitchen sink as I cook. I notice the speed at which I eat now. While brushing my teeth, I’m thinking only of the sensation and action of brushing. This awareness is calming. Spending some time alone every day, we relearn how to be our most authentic selves.
Carl Jung said:
“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
Why not direct our energy and feelings toward what brings us delight? Your mind matters. Your spirit matters. You matter.