Ten Ways to Let Go of Your Digital Day

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The Digital Day that overshadows the Physical Day

More and more people are waking up to the sound of their smart phone. A convenient alarm clock, our phones have crept into our bedrooms, right onto our bedside tables. 

Sales managers, business leaders, teachers, teens and even doctors and yoga teachers habitually digitally connect just minutes before they turn over to sleep through the night.

Morning comes. We reach for the device and set the alarm to snooze. Or do we? How many of us are reaching for that device and beginning our digital day with our eyes hardly open and our dreams still fresh on the borders of our consciousness? We reach for that device and check texts, Twitter feeds, comments on our Facebook page, watch a video or read some emails. At night we place our device by our bed, still on, connected to WiFi, setting the alarm with perhaps one final check out with our social media swirl.

And what lies in-between? A digital day woven into our physical day – from the flat screen TV above our running machine at the gym, a desktop PC at our work desk, coffee breaks and bus rides loaded with mobile connecting, as well as digitally made adverts wherever we go, clamouring for our attention. Our voice calls, though physical, are sent via a digital medium, and even a paperback book is full of code – the language made up of letters, following logical rules and structures. Reading, even of something that grips our imaginations, involves deciphering more code.

The pull of the digital world

For a moment we look out of the window of our train and see Nature rushing by. In my home town of Brighton in the UK, there’s a short stretch of track where our train crosses a viaduct and Nature’s green vista opens up on all sides on our way to London. It lasts for about thirty seconds. Many people on the train look up for a moment and behold it. As the years have gone by, I’ve noticed fewer people doing it, staring instead at their phone games, or tablet work emails.

Time to properly  let go of your digital day?

Night time comes. You yawn with tiredness, ready for a refreshing sleep. There’s increasing evidence that using your phone before you turn in for the night could be adversely affecting that sleep. It isn’t just the disturbing images of checking the news before bed, or reading a stressful work email. Wifi signals themselves could be harming the quality of our sleep.

Yet do we need evidence, or doesn’t common sense tell us the same? An argument before bed, watching a TV soap, the (bad) News or a  horror film, reading a disturbing fiction book –  we’ve known for years that these are not ideal ways to let go at the end of a day. Yet there are new factors that arise that are fairly unique to the digital world.

So, how can we healthily and mindfully let go of our digital day? Here are some tips. Not all will suit you. Choose the ones that work best for you.

1. Don’t use your phone as an alarm clock. Keep your devices out of the bedroom.  If you must use your smartphone as an alarm clock, choose a gentle sound for your wake-up call. Many alarm apps on smart phones and tablets can wake you up with some soft bells, music or bird song. And turn the device to AIrplane mode which switches off the Wifi. Even better, keep them out of the bedroom and get a real alarm clock.

2. Let go with some music. If you play a CD or an Mp3, you are, of course, still digitally connecting as this is digital music. If you must do that then at least choose some relaxing music – nothing with too much of a melody to fire your thinking, or a disturbing beat or lyrics to upset your dreams. Something gentle and calming. Or how about a bit of singing? I’m not kidding! A warm shower and a bit of a song can be a lovely way to prepare your physical breathing for the rhythmic, settled breathing of sleep. SIng in the bath, or just hum.  I’ve also heard of friends who play guitar, their flute or piano before sleep.

3. A verse can be another way of getting into a gentle rhythm for sleep. I wrote my own lullaby years back and learned it. I know it off by heart; it’s a simple poem, something to re-engage myself with spoken, not typed words. Many of my friends have used it and benefited from it. Say it aloud or say it in your head, just before sleep. Or find one to suit you or write one yourself.

Lullaby

The sea is rising, falling on the spray

The river to the sea does wend its way

Sleep now soft and sure, sleep now

Into the river comes the stream to sing

Before the winding stream there is the spring

Sleep now soft and sure, sleep now

It bubbles gently from the mountain gray

Like notes upon the water’s gentle play

Sleep now soft and sure, sleep now

And flowing like a lullaby to sleep

Its pebbles, sands and crystals in the deep

Sleep now soft and sure, sleep now

So tinkle-rings and fairy song do seem

To ease you to a calm and lovely dream.

Sleep now soft and sure, sleep now

Sleep now soft and sure sleep

Sleep now soft and sure

Sleep now soft and

Sleep now soft

Sleep now

Sleep.

4. Let Nature refresh you. We stare at digital pictures throughout our day. Many people experience the Tetris Effect, where they see after-images as they lie in bed. It can be very disturbing and really harm your process of going to sleep. Always leave an hour of non-digital activity before you go to bed and to sleep. If you’ve had a busy day full of digital interaction, step outside and look at the night sky. Look at a picture depicting Nature, ideally made from real paint! Gently engaging with Nature, beholding a plant, and natural materials (a shell, a pebble, a  piece of driftwood), seems to help undo the effect of digital images. Try it!

5. Reflect back over your day, in reverse order. Go back over the events of your day and you will notice things that are still there, unresolved, in your mind, perhaps bothering you. Reflect over them and gently let them go until the morning. Start at the end of the day – from most recent events and then head backwards in your memory, stopping to simply notice anything that “comes up”. Noticing is a remarkably healing thing to do. You might make a decision or two. You might get a new, better perspective.

6. Look your digital day straight in the eye. One way of stopping digital content from lurking in your subconscious is to bring it into full consciousness. Try reading texts or emails aloud; hear the words, lifted out of the digital realm. If a text has been bothering you, read it aloud; you might even want to talk it through with someone – get clarity on it; clear the air. Debrief with yourself or with with a friend or family member, talk about anything that is bothering you. Summarize and gently process your digital day. Some people keep a diary and write it all down, with real pen and real ink. You might do that in the evening, in the morning, or both.

7.  Tie up loose ends before the end of the day. Don’t leave conversations unresolved, decisions hanging in the air. Are you hiding behind texting? Would an early evening call clear up a problem? Do you need to meet that person face to face? Don’t take your worries home with you, into your evening, into your sleep.

8. Find a night time drink or aroma that helps you let go. A cup of chamomile tea, or perhaps some lemon water. Often caffeine and alcohol accompany digital activity. If coffee is what you need at the start of your day, find something that helps you relax and find calm at the end. An hour before bed, even a glass of filtered water and then NO digital activity can be all that is needed to let go of your digital day. You might also burn some lavender oil in an oil burner. Find a “nightcap” that suits you.

9. Turn off your Wifi at the router. Reduce the amount of digital activity in your home. Turn off devices, place them consciously in a dedicated place in the house (Not in the bedroom!). The ritual of placing our tools away, of leaving them, is a gesture of letting go that can really enhance our rest and recuperation.

10. Finally, find physical and mental activity that helps you unwind and release. For some it is meditation, for others yoga. A swim, a bath, a walk by the sea or in the park. Try to do it where there is no digital distraction. Turn phones off. Try to avoid digitally produced music. Just you, the activity, your body, your mind and your breathing. Find an activity that supports you in letting go of your digital day.

Creating the Rhythm of Letting go

When we get into a regular rhythm of consciously letting go of our digital day, we can initially feel the pull of the digital realm. Our habit and even our addiction can try to sabotage us. Gently persevere, keep at it. Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself drawn back into digital activity. Over time you’ll find that you are putting your digital day  back in its place. Sleep and rest are not digital activities. Even though some digital activity can relax us, many people find that they never truly relax when they aren’t able to step away from the world of screens that flash on and off faster than our eyes can see. If you are one of those who wants to be able to, at will, to put some healthy distance between your physical and digital experiences, then these tips might just transform your night, and the day that follows..

About Paul Levy

Paul is a writer, thinker, facilitator, theatre-maker, and conversifier. He is the author of the book, Digital Inferno.

Posted on June 13, 2015, in Key themes. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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