Remove the phone from in front of your face, and engage. Read More...

Everywhere I go, I have my phone.

It’s practically a part of me.

When I don’t have my phone with me, I feel stressed. What if I miss something?

It seems crazy, but it’s sort of a legit fear. I like to point to the time I missed a call from my son.

I left my phone at home by accident. While the phone was stuck at home, my son tried to call me. He needed to pick him up due to illness. I finally got him. Two hours after he called. The school nurse was not amused.

This works as a “reason” to be obsessed with keeping my phone nearby. I can just tell everyone my sob story about how my son was sick that one time.

But let’s be honest: most of us are just addicted.

Are you addicted to your phone?

What you do — and seeing who acknowledges you — on social media is addictive.

When you see the likes, the messages, the replies, and all the signs that someone sees what you’re doing (and perhaps approves?), the rewards centers in your brain trigger.

In fact, your addiction to your mobile phone is probably due, in part, to the fact that you can enjoy a reward whenever you want just by checking your social media.

And it really can be addicting, with the brain patterns of compulsive social media use remarkably similar to the brain patterns of drug addicts.

Part of that is by design. Facebook engineers built the platform to suck you in and take up your time and energy. All the social media platforms are designed, in some way, to take up your headspace and encourage you to maximize your time there.

In fact, you aren’t really considered a user or a consumer. You are the product. Social media networks sell your information to other parties. Additionally, they make money off advertising that delivers you to businesses and others.

It’s not just about the addiction, though. I noticed that I experience life better when I’m not totally attached to my phone. Moving away from the phone as my default allows me to experience life more fully.

Now that I’m making a conscious effort to step away from the phone, including time to unplug on the weekends and evenings and to put my phone in DND mode at night (with the exceptions of my parents, my son, and my ex), my life has improved dramatically.

Here are 5 good reasons to unplug at least some of the time — so your phone doesn’t run your life:

1. Boost your creativity.

When you’re constantly consuming media, you aren’t creating anything. And you don’t have to be creative all the time. I specialize in writing uncreative non-fiction. My attempts at fiction suck.

But I still take time to try my hand at creative efforts, including music and sad attempts at fiction. I’ve even started adult coloring. And I never really liked coloring. I also crochet, even though I’m useless at anything more complicated than a scarf. But I find these efforts oddly satisfying.

Creativity is a process. Our creative “muscles” can strengthen or weaken. When all you do is consume, consume, consume, your creative muscles atrophy.

Not only that, but creative endeavors can help you be a better problem solver and find innovative ways to move forward. It’s perfect if you want to be an entrepreneur. Creativity is one of the most important traits of a business owner. No matter how you slice it, you’ll improve in life and in your business with the help of creativity.

If you want to be more creative, put the phone down, and work on something else. Even if you don’t think you’re very good at it, it can offer you a huge boost when you stop letting your phone run your life.

You might be surprised at how the time flies, and at how you are less bored than you could have imagined.

2. Feel better about yourself.

Constantly checking your phone and being on Facebook can actually make you feel bad about yourself, and trigger feelings of envy. The problem is that you compare yourself with how others present themselves online.

That’s one of the most insidious things about social media and phone use. Standing in the grocery line? Check out what’s happening with your buddies on social media. And immediately feel like you’re missing out.

The reality is that, in many cases, people present idealized versions of themselves on social media. You are comparing yourself on your worst day to someone’s best day. That’s not a fair comparison, and it can lead to anxiety about how your life “should” be.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Spend some time away from your phone and put things into perspective. Recognize that there are some pretty great things about your life. It’s hard to do that when you’re obsessed with everyone else’s life.

3. Stillness is good for you.

5 Reasons to Stop Letting Your Phone Ruin Your Life

Even if you aren’t using your phone for Facebook and other social media all the time, it can still cause serious problems in your life.

Are you constantly playing games? Do you check your phone, even if you don’t have messages?

In a world where distraction and stimulation are all around, stillness is falling by the wayside.

However, stillness can be beneficial. Do you ever just sit, without the need to accomplish anything? We consider boredom as the worst thing ever, but the truth is that our bodies need to recharge.

Meditation, good sleep, and just sitting and taking in life are all good for you. They help your mind. Plus, constant stimulation from your phone can add to feelings of anxiety and reduce your ability to contemplate your options calmly and make better decisions.

Put the phone away and sit in stillness. Meditation can help with this. You can even benefit from better sleep if you stop playing games or checking your email or reading on your phone or doing whatever it is you do before bed.

Stop letting your phone run your life, take in a little extra stillness, and unplug a couple hours before bed. You might be shocked at how much you better you feel about everything in your life.

4. Take back control of your time.

Who’s in charge?

You, or your phone?

Be honest. Do you have to answer every text immediately? Do you feel frazzled because there’s always a notification for a new email calling off your attention?

That’s not healthy behavior. Not only does it put you at the beck and call of your phone, it can also strain your relationships. What message does your child get if you’re always staring at your phone, getting distracted by the “ding” instead of paying attention to them?

What kind of message are you sending to your life partner when an Instagram notification is more important than they are?

You don’t have to let your phone run your life. You don’t have to answer every call or text immediately. Turn off the push notifications on your phone. That way, you won’t be distracted by feeling that you have all these things to do because Instagram or Facebook or your email are always intruding on your time.

Just turning off my push notifications changed how I feel about things. My son has his own text and phone alert tones and if I’m in the middle of something, I ignore the phone unless it’s my son. It was hard at first, but I find it empowering now.

Today, we expect instant responses from everyone, and we think we have to respond instantly as well. That’s just not true. You can control your time. You don’t have to let your phone control your time and attention.

5. Experience life.

When I attended my son’s first fencing tournament, I was so engrossed that I didn’t take a single picture.

At first, I felt bad, but then I realized that I had paid better attention to him because I wasn’t fumbling around with my phone. I could give all my attention to him, and truly experience it because I saw it with my own eyes.

I don’t record recital performances, either.

Usually, when I go to a game or a concert, or even see a new vista in nature, I take a few pictures first thing. I get the pictures out of the way so I can fully enjoy the rest of the time.

The truth is that life doesn’t look the same when viewed through the phone. The phone gets in the way. I like taking pictures. I like having them. But I try to get it out of the way at the beginning of any event so that I can fully experience it going forward.

Don’t miss out on life.

Instead of letting your phone run your life, put it down and experience your life.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of your phone and never use it again ever. Like so many things in life, this isn’t an either/or proposition. Instead, it’s about moderation. It’s about recognizing that, while your phone is an amazing device that can do a lot of good, it’s not a replacement for actual life.

It can’t replace true experiences, and it can’t replace the people you love. So, use it. It’s a tool. But it’s not the same thing as actually living.

There’s a lot going on around you. There are so many amazing people to connect with.

But when you let your phone run your life, whether you are constantly checking for messages or trying to accomplish something in Bejeweled, you really are missing out.

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Leave your worries behind and start meditating. It’s like a vacation for your mind. Read More...

Are you struggling with stress? Do you wish you had time to slow down and relax?

A few years ago, I was in the same boat: overwhelmed, worried, concerned that I didn’t have enough time to just sit.

That’s when I started meditating.

You don’t need a lot of time to start meditating; you don’t even need to do it every day. Begin a meditation practice, and you might be surprised at the benefits.

Here’s why you should start meditating.

Meditation seems like it’s some feel-good fluff. And there are some “masters” and “gurus” out there that peddle plenty of feel-good fluff as part of their meditation programs.

I’m not into all that. I like meditation because it comes with real benefits for your body and mind.

First of all, you can lower your stress levels, which in turn impacts other areas of your life, particularly your heart. Studies indicate that meditation might help lower your blood pressure and reduce your likelihood of stroke and heart attack.

Your emotional and mental health can be positively impacted as well. Meditation can calm you, allowing you to deal with unexpected events in a more positive manner — and improve your mood, which helps you in your interactions with your partner, friends, and children.

Meditation can even change your brain structure in beneficial ways. It might even help stave off the impacts of aging on the brain. Enhanced cognition and attention can help you boost your productivity and improve your ability to focus on your goals.

A few weeks ago, I got out of the practice of meditating. I felt too busy. One day skipped turned into another day skipped. I didn’t even realize I was skipping until Harlan brought up my stress levels, associated with my recent illness. “Are you meditating?”

After honestly considering his question, I discovered that I needed to start meditating again. So I picked up my practice. Here’s how I got back into it — and how you can start your own meditation practice:

Start with short periods of time.

Slow Down. Breathe. Start Meditating.

When we think of meditation, we picture someone sitting cross-legged for hours at a time, humming. That’s not practical. No one is going to just carve out an hour of the day out of nowhere.

Instead, start meditating for much shorter periods of time. I like a five-minute meditation for anytime I feel like I’m flagging during the day. There’s nothing wrong with meditating for five minutes each day. You could even break it out into three five-minute sessions. Other people I know start the day with a five-minute meditation and then re-focus throughout the day with a one- or two-minute meditation every couple of hours.

If you want to increase the amount of meditating you do each day, do so gradually.

I like to start the day with a moving meditation while I run through the yoga poses that make up the sun salutation. I usually set aside 20 minutes for meditation partway through the day, and then I use a guided meditation to help me fall asleep at night.

Figure out what works for you, and stick with that. The important thing is to get started — no matter how much time you spend meditating each day.

Use guided meditation to stay focused.

I get distracted by my thoughts all the time. So, even though I’ve been meditating for years, I still use guided meditations. You can find guided meditations for lengths of time ranging from five minutes to two or three hours.

I’ve tried all sorts of things: finger meditating, meditation balls, focusing on my breath, using mantras. None of it keeps me focused like a guided meditation. Don’t feel like you have to be able to sit there on your own and become one with the universe to be successful. Swallow your pride and make use of YouTube or a meditation app on your phone to find guided help.

Adopt any position you want.

My favorite position for meditation? Corpse.

Really, it’s just lying down. And I like it. When I’m meditating during the day, I lay on my back, palms facing up. At bedtime, I just lay on my side. It’s about comfort.

You can meditate sitting on a chair, standing up, or laying down. Figure out what’s most comfortable for you, and just go for it. There’s no one “right” way to meditate.

Figure out what's most comfortable for you, and just go for it. There's no one "right" way to meditate.Click To Tweet

Meditate while moving.

Slow Down. Breathe. Start Meditating.

Did you know you can meditate while moving? There are walking meditations. Sometimes I turn my lap swimming into a swimming meditation. I start my morning by meditating while doing yoga.

You can enter a mindful state while doing any number of activities, from coloring to playing music (both of which come with a bevy of benefits). Don’t assume you have to shut yourself away in a room for effective meditation.

Mindfulness is key.

Effective meditation is all about mindfulness. The idea is to connect to the present, and let thoughts and worries about the past or the future go. Whatever you need to do in order to achieve that state of mind is totally acceptable.

And, as with all things, it takes practice. It can be challenging at first, but as you begin to see the results of your meditation efforts, you’ll be hooked, and likely look for ways to take your practice to the next level.

Are you starting meditation? How do you make time? What are your best tips for effective meditation?

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