Staying present on social media
All this delightful hot weather can also cause stress and irritation. Joe Hoare gives us some calming advice.
For many of us, social media can be a chaos-theory series of infinite rabbit holes. There are tempting lures everywhere. The possibilities for distraction are endless. The pressures can feel unrelenting. This combination can have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing as well as our performance and productivity.
In the face of this, how do we prioritise our attention? How do we stay present? How do we avoid over-thinking? How do we avoid rash communication?
‘Dance like no one is watching; email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition’. Do we all adhere to this?
The solution to these issues is elegantly expressed in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s classic comment: ‘simple but not easy.’ To achieve this, it is helpful to remind ourselves of some of the basic wellbeing principles we have all encountered many times before.
Remember to breathe
We have probably all heard this more times than we can remember. There are reasons we will have heard it so many times before, namely we keep forgetting, and it works. ‘Breathing’ in this context is conscious deep breathing, preferably abdominal.
Because it is so calming, it is an excellent practice to teach ourselves before immersing ourselves in our e-world. Its effects, and therefore its benefits, are immediate. Obvious mini-steps include breathing consciously between emails, when pausing for thought, and when reading important communications. It helps prevent over-reaction.
As we start to remember to breathe consciously in our e-zone, it helps to feel our breathing and not simply do it. When we embody our breathing, we heighten our awareness and this makes it easier to ‘remember to breathe’ in our world online.
Among other things, this is fundamental stress-busting, and worth revisiting for the benefits of remaining calm in the face of provocation on social media and elsewhere.
This is a perfect antidote to over-thinking. It is also an antidote to the kind of rash, inappropriate, unwise communications we have probably all generated.
Easy ways to get grounded include putting attention on areas like the soles of your feet, or your seat, or if you are more esoterically inclined, the base of your spine. The effect is the same whichever your focus – it moves attention away from over-thinking. With practice, a subsidiary development is it heightens intuition because being grounded allows easier access to information from more than just our thoughts.
It allows greater insights into ourselves – and our world. These insights can develop into a more resilient approach they provide perspective and help avoid rashness.
Conscious breathing and getting grounded are natural and easy partners. However, because we tend to be stationary and often seated when in our world online, they can require effort, ie a conscious and deliberate practice. The incentive, of course, is their effects which include helping manage time better, and focus more acutely.
A particular insight from laughter yoga is to smile more when you’re in your world online. There are many studies into the beneficial effects of smiling. These include rapid mood-shifting, slowing heart rate, and increased relaxation. These can dovetail with the benefits from breathing and being grounded, with the extra dimension of enhanced enjoyment.
In fact, the smiling dimension can make it easier to remember to apply the other two angles covered here because it associates them with enjoyment. The combined effect can be to help create an oasis of calm, insightful, focus, present-moment awareness which, I suspect we all agree, is a good platform to be able to access when we’re in our e-world.
We need to remember to keep practising.
About the author
Joe Hoare is a laughter yoga specialist.
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