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Evening Routine For Better Sleep and Reduced Anxiety

Following a consistent routine before bedtime not only helps keep our stress levels low – but also boosts mindfulness, productivity, and results in better overall sleep.  

In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of starting our day off right by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness can be achieved by developing an acute awareness of our body and our surroundings with a sense of appreciation and calm.  In this blog, I will be examining how we can also end our day with mindfulness. By following a consistent and relaxing evening routine we will be able to get more of what we all crave – sleep. 

Stress Causes Insomnia  

Stress is one of the top reasons people experience insomnia. Remember – if you are struggling with insomnia you are not alone.  Around 30% of the adult population report that insomnia is a major factor in their life. It only takes one night of worry to see how stress directly impacts sleep.  The inability to mentally let go makes it difficult, if not impossible, to physically and mentally relax.  

Personally, when I experience worry or stress, getting sleep becomes a challenge. Missing sleep then creates more of what initially made sleep impossible – stress. This cycle can become quite debilitating and problematic – which is why developing a calming bedtime routine is so important.  It signals to our mind and our body that it is time to unwind and slow down. This can gently ease us into slumber – as opposed to trying to forcefully prod ourselves to sleep.  

A few relaxation techniques can be just what we need – especially when we are highly stressed and agitated. Below, I have outlined a few of my favourite bedtime rituals for mindful rest.  

Mindful Bedtime 

If you need to work in the evening, make sure you have some wind-down time before bed to avoid feeling tense. 

Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, as this will make it harder to fall asleep. Instead, try drinking herbal teas, or a warm milky drink.  

It’s a good idea to have a warm bubble bath before bed, and not a heavy late-night meal or alcoholic nightcap –which can interfere with a sound sleep. This will in turn, lead to reduced anxiety the next day. 

Getting some fresh air and exercise may also help our body unwind. A stroll in the evening air, walking the dog, stretching, or yoga can help achieve the feelings of relaxation. 

Before Bed 

Before we tuck in, ensuring that our bedroom is a pleasant place to sleep in is vital – doing a quick tidy, even if its just putting things into piles can be especially helpful.  

Make a to-do list for the next day. This way, we can empty out our minds in readiness for sleep. 

It is also a good idea to lay out our clothes and pack a lunch so we are ready to go right away in the morning. All this preparation will undoubtedly help us relax and stop our minds from racing. 

Don’t listen to the news, or watch it less than an hour before bed. 

Ensure a calm sleeping environment, with no devices blinking and pinging to remind us of the stress of our work or social lives. And of course, we should try to avoid using electronic devices just before bedtime.  

Make sure the bedroom is as dark apossible, with no LED display lights, as these will interfere with sleep patterns.  

What bedtime routines do you use to quiet yourself? 

I invite you to join in on the conversation on Facebook and Instagram 

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Taking The Stress Out of Self-Care 

I live just north of Toronto, a city filled with health and wellness clinics, centres, boutiques, and workshops. Even in my “smallish” hometown of Aurora, businesses that focus on wellness are popping up everywhere. From fitness gyms on every corner to massage clinics located in strip malls, the wellness industry is booming. If you are looking into wellness services there are tons to choose from. There’s yoga, Power Pilates, Zumba, running groups, drumming circles, trampolining, indoor cycling, pole-dancing, cryotherapy, Cross-Fit and everything in between. The options seem almost endless. 

Recently, I took advantage of a free drop-in yoga class to see if it was the right fit for me. While I was in the class, I realized that I was not relaxing and reaching that wonderful meditative state that yoga promotes. Instead, I was rehearsing in my mind the multitude of things that I had to do before the day was over. Thoughts about getting groceries on the way home, responding to a client, and a networking event that I recently heard about raced through my mind.  

What I didn’t like about my experience was how self-care felt like helplessness to me. That was not what I was looking for. I was certainly not looking for one more thing to feel stressed about. Tspend time on crafting excuses that I can tell my friends and family as to why I didn’t make it to the gym, or go to the class, or make my appointment.   

A Self-Care Strategy 

I decided that I needed a strategy for my selfcare. Just like I need a strategy for everything else in my life that I deem important. For example, healthy meals don’t just magically appear on the table at my house. It is a result of a systematic approach that starts with a positive intention (I want myself and my family to eat healthy). And it includes the necessary steps to make it happen. Everything from consciously choosing where I buy the groceries for a recipe, to research and selection about different foods is involved in reaching the goal of healthy eating.   

Why would I think that self-care would be any different?  It too requires a systematic approach that starts with intention and includes conscious actions. 

After much trial and error, I identified four necessary elements in order to make self-care a reality for me. Let me share them with you. 

Start with Intention 

Everything starts with an idea or an intention. Ask yourself; “What do I want from self care?” If it is to feel part of a community then choose an activity that involves others or is group based. Iit to challenge yourself? Then pick something that will do that. A trainer at a gym seems like a good choice. Is it to get some alone time? Then look into yoga or mediation. What really matters is that you do something, anything, that satisfies your basic needs. 

Figure Out Your Why 

Once we know what we are looking for, in order to make it stickwe need to understand why we are doing it. Why is self-care important for you? So you can have more energy? Timprove your health? Or maybe to look better? It doesn’t matter what your why is, just that you know it and can relate to it. 

Get Into the Groove (and that WILL take time…accept it!) 

Now it is time to develop positive habits. Set a reminder on your phone. Have an accountability partner. Give yourself a reward for achievement. Habits require 63 consecutive days to form, and that leads up to the last suggestion. 

Persevere  

Whatever you find works for you, make it mandatory for yourself and commit to doing it. Once you start doing something positive on a regular basis, you are going to feel better about yourself. These positive actions will leave you feeling more confident and happier.  

How do you work self-care into your life? Is it something you look forward to each day or is it just another thing you need to get done? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram. 

To our health and wellbeing, 

Karen 

Being Rather Than Doing

What are you doing? And what did you do yesterday? What are you going to do tomorrow? Sound familiar? If it does, it’s because we are so used to emphasizing doing rather than being. As a result we put ourselves under constant pressure to meet the demands and the expectations of others. Most of us live in the “doing” mode all day long. The doing mode is what pushes us to strive to reach our goals, to get things off of our To Do List, to answer a hundred emails per day. It is what propels us forward. However, if we are in it all of the time, it can lead us towards stress, overwhelm and anxiety.

One way to conquer the anxiety associated with doing is to simply learn to do one thing at a time. This means learning to focus on the current moment. Rather than worrying about what hasn’t gotten done or what needs to be done next.

There are some mindfulness techniques associated with focusing on the now that can make a big difference in getting yourself to the being mode instead of constantly living in the doing mode.

Do One Thing at a Time

This is a winning strategy to keep your attention focused on being in the present. To do this, become aware of when your mind wanders away from what you are currently doing; and instead focuses on something else you should be doing. Or what you didn’t get done yesterday. Lately, I’ve started to close my internet browser and other applications when I’m working on a text document. Aside from the anxiety notifications and other windows can create when they ping, concentrating on one task fully has increased my productivity.

Start each Day with Stillness

Adopting a morning ritual that encourages your mind to be still and focused on the now as soon as you wake up will, over time, train your mind to stay centred and avoid racing toward the multitude of things that you want to get done during the day. This allows the day to be started with calmness and focus as opposed to anxiety and mind-spinning worry.

Here is how I like to do this. First of all, I decide to stay under the blankets for an extra five minutes after I wake up instead of jumping out of bed and getting into the flow of the work day. That is my first good decision for the day. Next, I lie on my back and close my eyes. I notice where in my body I may have tension, aches or anxiety. Then I place my attention on that place in my body and I allow myself to feel whatever is going on there. Sometimes it helps if I put my hand on the place where I am feeling the anxiety or pain.

Next, I exaggerate the feeling allowing my mind to focus on it. Then I relax. I tense up again, and really feel the feeling. Then I relax again.

Then I imagine a butterfly net coming along and sweeping over my head and down my body. All of my tense, difficult feelings are swept up in the net and are taken away.

Then, I breathe deeply in and out, five times.

After this is complete I calmly pull back the blanket and I get on with my day.

A Better Way

Learning to be, rather than caught up in doing all of the time has been a game changer for me and my health. How do you retreat from the pressure of accomplishment and responding? Do you practice mindfulness so you can enjoy the sweetness of the present moment? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Social Anxiety

Anxiety can show up in many forms. One of these is the intense feelings of nervousness and uncertainty that can occur when meeting new people or going into social situations. This is known as social anxiety. If you are someone who deals with social anxiety, you should know you are not alone. Almost everyone experiences some sort of shyness or introversion when meeting someone new or being in a crowd of people. It’s a natural response to feel somewhat apprehensive. And one that is hardwired into us as a protection mechanism. However, sometimes those feelings can become overwhelming, even debilitating, causing people to stop living their lives to the fullest. It may even impair their ability to do their jobs, go to school, interact with neighbours or take positive actions towards their general wellbeing, like seeing their doctor or dentist.

What Lies Behind Social Anxiety

In many of my previous blogs, I’ve talked quite openly about dealing with anxiety for most of my life. Although my anxiety was intense and frequent, I never experienced social anxiety. My personal experience with anxiety showed up as intense worry about my future. It wasn’t until I was able to get help in identifying and removing my unhealthy unconscious limiting beliefs about my future that my anxiety was actually eliminated. I can however say with much

confidence that a similar approach of dealing with unconscious limiting beliefs would work well with social anxiety.

Underneath the exterior behaviour that usually accompanies social anxiety such as sweating, blushing, and the inability to speak is most likely an internal dialogue of thoughts like; I will look stupid, I will be laughed at, or I am unsafe. Most social anxiety comes from being hurt in the past, either through bullying or teasing. It is in those intense negative experiences that people make decisions (usually unconsciously) that either they deserved what happened because there is something wrong with them, or that being with all other people is actually dangerous.

It Can be Overcome

If you have social anxiety, you may find yourself avoiding going out with friends, applying for jobs or dating. Joining social clubs is totally out of the question. Sometimes people with social anxiety live online, as that feels so much safer. Having a connection online to either people or groups is a good start; however, it cannot replace the benefits of face-to-face connection.

The good news is that social anxiety is understood now more than ever. The anxiousness does not need to be hidden, and admitting to the struggle with social situations is so much more accepted.

Do you struggle with social anxiety? How do you manage your social anxiety? Are you willing to open up to the idea that there could be unconscious limiting beliefs that are holding you back from engaging fully with others? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

The Anxiety Mindset

If you have an anxiety mindset, you constantly turn over issues. You think about the future, and pick over the past. You analyze, worry, or ‘nit-pick; about what did happen or might happen. It’s exhausting, and ultimately unproductive. I know, because I did it for years. I constantly reviewed every scenario, past and future, in my mind and dissected them into tiny bits of useless information, which I then used to berate myself with.

Anxiety-prone people often ask “what if?” What if I take the highway and there’s a crash? What if it rains and I get wet? I might get pneumonia and die. What if I say something stupid? This kind of anxiety

is largely based on fear of the unknown, of taking risks, and of feeling unprepared or unable to deal with the unseen.

‘I Wonder’ Instead of ‘What If’

In order to stop myself from the habit of imagining the worst-case scenario of asking “what if” followed by the inevitable negative thought, I now ask “I wonder.” And I follow this up with a positive thought. So instead of thinking; what if I take the highway and there’s a crash? I would think; I wonder how smoothly and safely the traffic will flow on the highway today?

Instead of thinking; what if it rains and I get wet? I might get pneumonia and die. I would think; I wonder if it will rain. I’ll take my raincoat in case it does. That way I will stay warm and dry no matter what the weather does. This mindfulness technique directs my attention to the alternative outcome. One that is more productive, creative and optimistic. This simple change in thinking has had a profound effect on my level of anxiety, as well as that of my clients.

‘If Onlys’ and ‘Shoulda, Wouldas’

Another common phrase people who deal with anxiety struggle with is, “If only…” If only we had gotten up earlier, we wouldn’t have been delayed. If only I had a million dollars, then I wouldn’t have any money worries. If only I hadn’t eaten that cake, I wouldn’t have got sick or put on weight. This kind of anxiety is tinged with regret, and often disguises an underlying anger or resentment.

The third kind of anxiety mindset is “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” This type is about what you should have done, what could have been or what would have happened. This is the worst kind of negative mindset;

as it is a major way of beating yourself up for the past, the present and the future.

This mindset takes a huge amount of energy, and can become quite obsessive, as we worry away, trying to rewrite our history. Shoulda, coulda, woulda mindset can also be a passive-aggressive way of blaming other people. Either way, it usually erases positive thinking as you constantly try to change the past and the future without being able to live in the present.

Awareness Is the First Step

Regardless of what particular negative thinking you engage in that triggers your anxiety, awareness is the first step towards making a positive change. Pay close attention to your language for the next week. What sort of negative talk and thinking dominates? Once you can recognize it, you can start making changes.

As with everything and anything, it is the small first steps that move the momentum forward. Over time this awareness, coupled with the discipline of correction, will eliminate anxiety-breeding talk and replace it with more talk that is accepting and gentle.

I invite you to share ways you try to focus your talk in a positive way in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration. And if you’re looking for assistance overcoming those negative mindsets I’d love to chat.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Creativity as a Cure for Anxiety

When was the last time you were creative? I mean the last time you did something totally innovative that stretched your imagination. For me, I realized it was a long, long time ago. I was probably a child the last time I did anything that genuinely creative. But why is being creative so important?

Recent research out of the United States has shown that students who completed creative projects experienced a decrease in their anxiety levels. It concluded that one of the contributing factors to that decline was that our typical day-to-day lives involve solving problems by just the click of a computer mouse. Where doing a creative project requires longer processes, unclear solutions, sometimes frustration, and the opportunity to overcome roadblocks. All of these resulted in both elevated pride and personal satisfaction.

And when we are engaged in a creative project, we are living in the present moment. The beauty of the present moment is that it is a void to triggers and feelings associated with anxiety.

How to Get Creative

Once I came to understand the importance and benefits of being creative, I wondered how I could go about becoming creative, since it’s not part of my every day experience. I came to realize that I just needed to start. It didn’t really matter where or when. So I decided to tackle a home redecorating project that had been lingering for a long time. I was delighted when I began to recognize the benefits. I experienced being the present moment with my project and my mind and body responded. I was more relaxed, calmer, and happier.

Then I experienced the reciprocal benefits – the creativity of my redecorating project stirred up more creativity in other areas of my life. I became more confident in my abilities to think outside of the box. And soon I found myself coming up with new ideas for my business and for my one-on-one coaching.

Focus on the Process

The good news is that incorporating creativity into life does not need to be difficult. It does not matter what hobby you take up or whether or not you have a natural talent. It’s about the process more than the final product. Ignore the naysayers and just do what feels natural. If we all stop thinking about our fears and stressors, and focus on what is novel and original, we can train our brains to automatically explore rather than avoid.

What ideas do you have on how you can become more creative? I invite you to join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

My 2019 Resolution: Slow Time Down 

I have a lofty goal for 2019. I want to make time slow down. You may be thinking that I’ve had a little too much spiked eggnog over the holidays, sadly I did not. I have however, been thinking about this goal for a long time and I realize that it is not as “impossible” as it may seem. Let me explain.  

When I was a kid time seemed limitless. Everyday passed by very slowly. The days leading up to Christmas seemed to drag. Summer vacation was painfully long and I couldn’t wait to go back to school to see my friends. I’ve always been curious about why these feelings have left me as I’ve gotten older. Why is it that since I’ve grown up, time seems to have sped up? 

I have come to realize that it all boils down to perception. Sadly, by the time we are seven years old, half of our perceived life is over. That is why it is so common to hear (and say), “I can’t believe it is (insert any month of the year) already?” 

So how can I change my perception of time so that it actually feels like it’s slowing down? 

Reintroduce Newness 

One of the reasons time seems so slow for children is that all of their experiences are new. As we age, our experiences tend to become routine and as a result our brain begins to blur them together. However, the good news is that it doesn’t matter what age we are, trying something new wakes up the brain. So, this year I am going to try to do something new every week. Ideas that I’ve already considered are: trying new recipes, driving new routes, and learning to knit.  

Practice Curiosity 

Curiosity is a muscle, if we don’t use it, we will lose it. Being curious means clearing your mind of preconceived notions, assumptions and any strongly held habits. Here is the test I took to check on the state of my curiosity – How many uses of a shoe can I imagine? I could only come up with twelve. Truly curious people can think of hundreds! And, curiosity is key to slowing down time, because using our minds for creation allows us to be in the present moment. Being in the moment means that we are not jumping into the future and fantasizing about how we’d like things to go, or delving into the past and focusing about how things were. In the present moment, time stands still.  

So what can I do to become curious again in 2019?  

  • Focus: I am going to let go of multitasking for five minutes each day and do one thing using all of my senses and without distraction. 
  • Slow Down: I am going to practice slowing down by focusing on doing a simple task (like eating a muffin) very slowly.  
  • Be Present in Nature: When I walk the dogs, I am not going to wear any headphones and I am going to stop and observe the street and the park as if I have never seen it before.  

Meditation 

I absolutely love meditation and I do it religiously. I’m happiest when I make it part of my daily routine. I feel grounded, centered and calm because of this practice. I can however easily put it aside and let other priorities become more important, even though I know that meditation is one of the easiest ways to help slow my perception of time. And the other bonus for me is better sleep and more self-compassion. This year, I am going to maintain my focus on my daily mediation practice. 

Worry Less About My To Do List 

I am a huge list maker. I have lists all over my house. A grocery list, a shopping list, a packing list, a repair list, a work objectives list. Studies have shown that in general, time seems to pass more quickly when we feel stressed about having too much to do. I have experienced this for sure. There have been times when I felt the pressure of time mixing with an endless To Do list. This year I am going to alleviate this pressure by focusing on working smarter. Less multitasking and more realistic expectations about what needs to get done will be my focus for 2019. 

Leave My Phone Behind 

I have come to realize that constant connection to my devices speeds up my perception of time. This year, I am going to choose a day per week in which I am going to unplug completely and just enjoy the day… like I used to do prior to my smartphone. 

I am looking forward to a new approach in 2019 and enjoying the year slowly. Each moment is a gift and I plan to savour its newness, uniqueness and presence. How do you want your 2019 to be different? I look forward to hearing your resolutions for 2019 comment below. 

To our health and wellbeing, 

Karen 

Four Suggestions for a Stress-Free Christmas

The Christmas season is a time of seemingly endless gatherings with family and friends, celebrations at the office, and entertaining at home.  All of this anticipation can be exhilarating; however it can also be anxiety provoking due to the unrealistic expectation to create the “best Christmas ever.” The most wonderful time of the year can easily turn into the most exhausting time of the year. And this can lead to January burn out, regret and financial burden. I have come to appreciate how important planning and prioritizing is to reduce the probability of having a Christmas that is not all that jolly and actually a bit melancholy.

Here are some of my best suggestions for a stress free Christmas:

Set Realistic Expectations

The sooner you understand that the holidays don’t have to be perfect, the better. There is no perfect Christmas. That concept is reserved for the Hallmark TV  Channel only. Families change and grow and so traditions come and go. Choose the one or two celebrations that are meaningful enough to hold onto. Then allow space to create new traditions that serve your family as it is in the present.

Plan Ahead

As with all tasks, if you plan ahead the chances of success are higher than if you wing it. Christmas is no exception. Set aside specific days for activities like shopping, baking, visiting, decorating and so on. That will prevent last minute scrambling. Also, by having a plan you are more apt to say no to activities that would leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed.

Set a budget and stick to it!

Before you spend any money on the holidays, decide how much you can afford to spend and then portion that amount between all of the necessities such as gifts, food, entertaining, travel, etc. There is nothing more anxiety-provoking than the January credit card statements if December was managed poorly. Preplanning your spending and refusing to buy into the message: happiness is a mountain of presents, are necessary defences. Realize that there are a lot of ways to spend less money on gifts and yet still show that you care. Things like a gift exchange or Secret Santa is a great way to reduce the financial burden of gift giving. Homemade gifts are meaningful and can be very special to the person receiving them. Donating to charities is also becoming a popular alternative to actual store-bought presents.

Keep your health as a priority

All of your good work on health should not go out the window just because it’s December. Your routine might not be as strict as it usually is however that does not mean that you should just abandon your health goals. If you are watching what you eat, then use the  trick of eating healthy food before going to the holiday party to avoid overeating on sweets and appetizers. Also, incorporate some form of physical exercise into your routine each day and make sure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep.

By preplanning some simple, yet effective strategies for how to get through the holidays you can prevent anxiety and overwhelm from taking over this year. Identify what triggers cause you most the stress (financial or personal demands) and develop a plan of how to combat them. With some simple techniques and strategies, a joyful and anxiety-free Christmas can be enjoyed.

You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,

Happy Holidays!

Karen

Organization Can Be a Stress Reducer

I get asked all the time for quick and easy ways to reduce everyday stress. My answer is always the same: get organized. Putting effort into organization, especially if you can organize multiple areas of your life, can reduce stress levels in the long term by requiring less last-minute scrambling in a variety of everyday situations. The result can also bring on a sense of empowerment. You will be able to look forward to events as “exciting,” instead of “overwhelming” or “stressful.” Keeping your stress response from being triggered can minimize or eliminate negative reactions to situations, and result in an overall calmer state of being

For many however, getting organized can be quite difficult and confusing. For example, how organized is enough? Does organized mean that every minute of every day is scheduled? What are the most important areas of life to organize?

Where to Start

The following are two areas where good organization can bring about the greatest benefit:

Your House:

A house filled with clutter and disorganization can drain your energy and cause a lot of wasted effort attempting to get even the simplest of tasks done. Did you know that household clutter can also drain you in other ways? Clutter can drain your finances when you end up repurchasing items you thought were lost but were merely misplaced. And clutter can certainly drain your time as you spend wasted minutes or maybe even hours sifting through your possessions. That is why it is important to organize your home. While you don’t need to alphabetize your books or organize your closet by colours, it is important to have everything in its place and have that place be somewhere that makes sense to you.

Your Time:

Are you constantly rushing? Does your mind race with all that you have to do? And do you have difficulty remembering it all? If so, then you are probably living a pretty stressful life already. Organizing your time can greatly improve your life by getting you focused. Creating To-Do lists is a great way to stop your thoughts from being preoccupied, and instead allow them to pay attention to the immediate task at hand.

The first step to good time management is to choose a calendaring system that works for you and stick to it. Whether you decide to use an online calendar or the good ol’ paper system, it really does not matter. The important thing is to make the choice and stick with it. The second step to good time management is to not overbook yourself. Only schedule as many activities as you have time for, taking into account travel time, and preparation and/or recovery time.

Lastly, make sure you include downtime in your schedule. This is vital for health and happiness. Having a schedule that is jammed packed will actually be less efficient and probably less effective as well.

Becoming organized in your life is possible. It does take some time and effort to catch on to this new way of living, but the result of less stress can be felt almost immediately.

I invite you to share other ways you use organization in your life in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen

Take Your Power Back in The Digital Age

Am I addicted to my technology? It’s a question I asked myself the other day. I noticed that I was never without at least one device in my hands. The next question was why is that? And what reaction was it causing in me?

A Social Norm Gone Too Far?

As a society, we are tied to our devices, night and day. When was the last time you saw someone without their phone in their hand? Chiropractors are reporting an elevated rate of patients with neck problems due to the constant head down posture brought on by screen time. Now add on the general stress level of the times we are living in. Life is moving faster than ever before in history. Expected response times to emails have gone down, from a couple of days a decade ago to a couple of minutes today.

Humans can only absorb so much stress before it boils over, turning into anxiety. So, it is vital to learn what your warning signs are and understand your triggers.

Keeping Up with the Social Media Jones’

After recognizing that I was addicted to my technology, I also came to realize that it was a potential anxiety trigger for me. I noticed that when I would look at social media sites I tended to feel ‘less than.’ These feelings quite naturally increased my anxiety.

Recent studies have shown that over fifty-five per cent of people have a negative reaction when looking at pictures of others online. These images evoke feelings of jealousy, envy, low self-esteem and competitiveness. There is also an expectation to keep up with the latest viral sensations and live news reports, to stay ‘in the know.’ This ability to access news about disasters and death twenty-four hours a day easily heightens anxiety.

Take A Break

The first step is admitting you have a problem; the second is doing something about it. I decided to change my behaviour regarding my device use. I implemented a digital-free block of time in my day. I chose mornings. Instead of immediately turning on my phone or computer, I now focus on planning, creativity and meditation. This change has allowed me to enter the day more slowly, with my intention clearly set. What I find now is that I am no longer just responding all day long. Instead, I control where and how I show up online.

I have also reduced my exposure to online news. I take some time during my day to log into a trusted news source and simply scan the headlines. This still gives me an overview of international, national and local news without feeling bombarded. If there is a headline that draws my attention, either I’ll read it in the moment, or bookmark it for a later time. These few changes have made a significant difference in my level of productivity, as well as reducing my feelings of nervousness and impending anxiety.

You Can Do It Too

Remember, you can turn off your devices. You can take a break. You can stop texting, emailing, responding, tweeting, constantly scrolling and checking. Focus your attention instead on being present with your family, friends, pets, and neighbours. Your mood and close relationships will thank you. How you manage your online experience can be different, as early as tomorrow.

I invite you to share positive ways that you handle technology in the comments. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration.

To our health and wellbeing,

Karen