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Tech Anxiety

"I'm not sure when/where I bought into the lie that multi-tasking is desirable or even possible.

But I have drunk deeply from that well.

Only recently as I feel schizophrenic, my thoughts kaleidoscopic,

do I realize how flawed that thinking is."

Carolyn Altman

Have you ever counted the hours you are engaged in technology in a day? Think about it for a minute.

You wake to an alarm clock set on your phone. Before you even get out of bed, you reach over and start scanning email just in case there's something important that you should know about. You tell Seri to "Play my play list," and music instantly fills the room. After your shower, you go downstairs, you pour your first cop of freshly brewed coffee from your automatic coffee maker that's programed to turn on with the alarm setting. You pull an Egg Bowl from your refrigerator and pop it into the microwave for 2 minutes. You turn on the television to see if there's any newsworthy information and flip open your laptop to check into your Facebook account to see if anyone responded to the post you entered last night. The Microwave dings and you return the kitchen for more coffee and breakfast. When finished eating and checking emails you run back upstairs to your electric toothbrush, dress and rush out to your car where the radio is programed to talk radio. All day long you have earphones on listening to music or your favorite book while you work on a laptop at a desk. During lunch you continue with checking personal emails, texting friends, and checking for the latest and greatest thing on Amazon. After all, Christmas is only a month away. You drive home with the radio, making sure to instantly respond to every "bing" text message you receive, and enter back into the home where the television is on and everyone is engaged with their phones and doesn't know you've even walked through the door. Dinner is served at the dinner table, but no one talks because they are focused on texting their friends, watching their favorite video on Facebook, , Snapchat. Instagram.

I challenged myself a few months back to see just how much technology I was engaging with and the above is pretty much what I experienced. I did not turn off "the noise" until I put my head on my pillow and fell asleep. I awoke too early (before the alarm clock), agitated and irritable after a night of stressful dreams and mind-spinning activity only to repeat the pattern again.

I recently learned that it takes 20 minutes for a person to redirect their attention back to their task at hand following one distraction from technology.The average high school student sends 100+ text messages a day. HOW can they be learning?So, if you think you are multitasking, you're not. It's a proven fact that technology has reduced production, reduced motivation, and reduced performance in the workplace and in school settings. What it the pay off for all this technology that is supposed to make life easier? We have higher levels of anxiety, decreased social skills because people don't know how to talk face-to-face anymore. Technology has messed with relationships where men prefer watching porn over sex with their spouse and women are choosing to be single rather than be ignored in a relationship. Children have NO relationship with their parents, and the next generation is doomed to a life of isolation in a room crowded with people.

But, it doesn't have to be this way. We have forgotten that we have the power to say "NO" to technology. You can choose to not give your children access to a phone (No we don't have to buy them a phone when they turn 6) and we can play with our children instead of popping them in front of a video. One client of mine said she was criticized at her children's school because she chose to not give them their own iPads. Other parents could not believe that her elementary school age children were "forced to go without" because of her "selfishness." My client said her children are more happy, less argumentative, and are more engaged in life than their peers. She takes them to the park, on camping trips, and they ride bikes instead of sitting on a couch all weekend looking at technology. I celebrate the parent who can say "no" to technology. I encourage parents to reengage with their children, with their partners, and with their coworkers, and bosses.

After my experiment to see how much I was engaged in technology, I shut it all down. I don't turn on the TV, check email on my phone, or listen to music in the morning as I dress for work. I actually turned off all notifications that email and TEXT have arrived on my phone so I don't get distracted by the "bing" anymore. I have silence in my car as I commute to work and even leave my cell phone in my purse, which I put out of reach so I'm not tempted to "look and see." Because the phone auto sinks to the car, if a call does comes in, I can accept it or dismiss it via my dashboard and the results have been amazing! I have found I am more relaxed, more creative, and more peaceful in my thoughts and communications with others. I can remember what I need to do because I'm not being squirreled to constantly think of things that have no benefit or purpose in my life. I can plan my morning and stick to my plan. Now I feel like a smoker who has quit the addiction and I am more aware of the addiction of others. For my clients, I give them this assignment to disengage from technology to raise their self-awareness as the first step to beginning the process of change. The reports I get back are one of pure amazement at how rapidly their anxiety levels have dropped.

So, I challenge you today to really pay attention to how much you are controlled by technology. If you've noticed a positive change, please comment below on how you will make changes in your life.

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