Mindful Benefits Of A Digital Detox

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It is called a web for a reason and without some mindful awareness of its entrapment it is not just our time that gets tangled up but also our minds.

The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when I came across a link to a great piece in the New York Times. I jumped across to the lengthy article and had a read. Once I’d finished I returned to Facebook, pausing to read some things in more depth, skimming over others, and leaving comments here and there.

Sound familiar? I am sure this is a typical snapshot of all of our social media interactions.  We flit seamlessly from one thing to another. This is true of most of our online activity. Social media aside, web-surfing lures us from one interesting site to another and I even find just answering emails takes me into the maze. It is called a web for a reason and without some mindful awareness of its entrapment it is not just our time that gets tangled up but also our minds. A single interaction can agitate the mind enough to cause an entire avalanche. You find yourself snowed under with streams of open tabs to come back to and a mind that has travelled far and wide and has lost track of where it was.

The risk here is that our minds are becoming conditioned to being constantly stimulated and eternally engaged. Our minds are presented with fewer and fewer inbuilt opportunities to sit still and be quiet. The previously uninhabited spaces in our lives are now filled in, filled up and filled out. The mobile nature of the devices we carry make sure of that. The quiet little windows of time that spontaneously presented themselves – standing in line, sitting in the waiting room, stopped at the lights, waiting at school pick-up time, are fast becoming non-existent. These little gaps left time for us to ponder, daydream, reflect, notice and people watch. These are not activities that we schedule into our day and so by filling this time we go without them. These incidental activities, shall we call them, reward us without warning or fanfare. They provide mental relaxation, some down-time for the mind,  and when they are absent from our lives our mental-hygiene suffers and can leave us feeling constantly distracted and overwhelmed.

Our minds are moving from one thing to another in such quick succession that we don’t have time to digest the information let alone process our emotional responses to it.

Knowing when it’s time for a digital detox.

Our need to constantly ‘check in’ agitates the mind. We struggle to rest in stillness as there is always a task at hand (or more literally in hand). Our minds begin to scan the device-driven to-do list (emails, social media updates, follow-up phone calls etc.) for anything that can occupy our time. Eventually it becomes an unconscious time filler that we reach for in our spare moments. As soon as it becomes an unconscious habit it sits very close to an addiction pattern. This is perhaps a good indication that it is time to switch off and break the cycle.

I took the opportunity over the weekend to turn off all devices and experience life without distraction for a couple of days. I was starting to feel wired and the monkey mind had become a hyped-up beast that was difficult to settle, even during meditation. In the absence of any undue stress or tension I could feel the restlessness building from technology constantly tugging at my skirt tails. I felt that it was time to switch off in order to restore balance and create more space and time. My instinct was to go back to the simplicity I once knew before devices were the norm.

Unplugging was a hugely rewarding way to take a breather. Almost immediately there was a sense of calm that came with feeling there was more time and space for things, not to mention the relief of not being constantly interrupted by a smartphone. Each time the temptation arose to check a device or look something up (like where to eat in a new part of town we were visiting) I refocused my attention on how calm and quiet my mind felt, and how grateful I was to recalibrate in this way.

Taking a little (or a lot) of time away from devices helps to raise awareness around the behaviours that agitate our mind. This experience made me aware of small ways that I can adjust my day-to-day use of technology so as to minimize some of its effects on my mental wellbeing and I have been implementing them ever since.

I highly recommend that you try it for yourself. Once you resist the initial temptation to reach for a device you will be well on your way to discovering a whole new (old) world that leaves you feeling renewed, relaxed and recharged and very much more connected to yourself and the world around you.

Let me know how you go.

Perhaps you have already done a digital detox. What did you discover?
Leave a comment below.

May your week be a centred one.

xM

 

Why Adults Need Play Time Too

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We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.

What we all instinctively know is that  “All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl.” Work, parenting and the daily routine keeps us very task focused and achievement oriented. Our hectic, modern lifestyle is certainly busy and demanding and we need measures in place for regular, light-hearted relief to boost our happiness. The missing ingredient is joy and fun, and the way to find it is through play.

Adult play is a time to forget about responsibilities and commitments. The focus of play is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal. It is pleasure for pleasure sake. The only purpose of the activity is having pure fun. “We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up,” says Scott G. Eberle, editor of the American Journal of Play.

But we dismiss play too easily. We excuse ourselves from opportunities to play by telling ourselves we are too busy, too tired, too old or too stressed to make time for it. Our leisure time activities tend to revolve around technology and television, which do not rejuvenate us or enrich us like play can.

Play is a way to fuel the imagination, develop creativity, connect with loved ones and improve overall health. Research shows that a life lived without play is at increased risk for stress related diseases, mental health issues, addiction and interpersonal violence. Introducing more play helps to relieve stress, boost creativity and innovation, improve brain function,  connect in relationships and keeps us feeling alive and engaged.

So instead of looking at play as a waste of precious time, consider it a great investment in your wellbeing.

Some of my personal go-to activities are doodling mindlessly on paper, knitting, participating in activities of my children’s choice (eg. water slides, rock climbing, trampolining), singing loudly to the radio, seeing art shows, playing with new yoga poses, attending writers talks, drinking tea with friends and warm baths.

Here are some other suggestions that may help introduce more play into your routine…

  • read a book/novel for pleasure
  • make art – draw, sculpt or just colour in
  • see art – go to a gallery
  • see a movie
  • move your body in new ways- go to a fun dance or yoga class
  • see some comedy
  • play some music or go to a live concert
  • get involved in a team sport
  • find your inner flirt
  • daydream on the grass
  • do a puzzle
  • play games or do a craft activity as a family
  • play with your kids and let them take the lead

I would love you to leave some of your favourites in the comments below. I love a good play date.

xM

If you would like to come play with me I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will make art and enjoy using our bodies in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.
f you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

– See more at: http://thelivewellplayground.com.au/#sthash.uiHEcTcQ.dpuf

f you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

– See more at: http://thelivewellplayground.com.au/#sthash.uiHEcTcQ.dpuf

f you would like to learn more about yoga and mindfulness I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment. The first workshop in the series is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage, learning to flex our bravery muscles . A second workshop will run for tweens and parents/caregivers and we look at Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.
 
To find out more jump over here.
 
Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.

– See more at: http://thelivewellplayground.com.au/#sthash.uiHEcTcQ.dpuf

Teaching tweens how to set boundaries

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It is human nature to avoid pain, including emotional pain, whether it is ours or someone else’s. So we need to help our children navigate the fear and guilt that may come with learning to set boundaries.

This morning my daughter wanted to have a ‘strategy meeting’ regarding how to deal with a boy that, according to his friends, ‘liked’ her. It should be said from the outset that these feelings were not mutual, and her friends had been sure to make this clear to this poor boy. My daughter is sensitive and was feeling uncomfortable, not only about the unwanted attention but also about how to address the issue and this boy.

Many of us, when unexpectedly placed in a situation where it is difficult to say ‘no’, will agree to something that is to our own detriment. Most of us have had the experience of agreeing to help out or be there for others when we don’t have the time, energy or resources ourselves.

Saying NO can be awkward and uncomfortable and this makes it difficult for tweens to set boundaries.

When we do things out of guilt or obligation – please others even when it contradicts what’s best for us or avoid expressing our thoughts and feelings when someone upsets us, we are succumbing to fear. We may fear rejection, so we say yes and abide by what we feel is expected of us. We may fear confrontation, so we go along with things just to make it easier. We may also feel guilt as a result of saying ‘no’ or hurting someone’s feelings.

So how do we explain to our children not only WHY it is important to prioritise our own well-being but also HOW?

Learning to set boundaries are key skills in creating healthy and emotionally sustaining relationships. If we can teach our  children to first recognise and then proritise their own well-being we are teaching them self-worth. When our children can recognise and accept what they truly desire, they no longer have to look for approval outside of themselves, which gives them the freedom to be who they really are.

“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. We can’t base our own worthiness on others’ approval.”

– Brené Brown

My daughter and I talked about how to sit with having hurt someone’s feelings. It was important for her to be able to see that though her honesty meant this boy was disappointed she wasn’t in fact being rude. She was being truthful and sometimes often even for adults this can take a lot of courage. Our obligation to others is to be respectful, however we are not responsible for the other person’s response. We are only responsible for ourselves.

And with that we skipped off to school together discussing homework  and how to get it finished on time.

If you would like to learn more about taking brave steps in your own life, or perhaps you have a tween that you feel would benefit from learning more about resilience, I will be holding a series of Art and Yoga workshops in and around Melbourne where we will explore these ideas in a creative and supportive environment.One workshop is for adults and the focus is on Bravery and Courage. The other workshop is for tweens and parents/caregivers and addresses Resilience. No yoga or art experience is necessary.

Bookings open shortly but places are limited, so if you are interested in being notified early jump over here to register.

Michelle Seelig is the proud mother of 2 creative, courageous girls and has worked in health and well-being for 25 years. She is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Health Coach and an artist with a Masters degree in Art Therapy. Using art, yoga and coaching practices in her workshops Michelle combines her skills and insights to deliver a unique, creative and transformative experience.