Mindfulness in an age of technology

We live in an era dominated by technology. Most of the technology in our lives is supposed to make everyday living easier and less stressful. However, this recent overabundance of technology we find swarming our lives has left us more distracted and more worried than ever before. Things we would have never worried about prior to inventions like the internet now seem to dominate our lives. What others are thinking about a certain picture you posted, how many “likes” you’ve been receiving, and a myriad of other seemingly irrelevant details now sit in the forefront of many people’s minds.

Most people nowadays often find themselves in a constant state of distraction by endlessly scrolling through their phone or some other electronic device. Nearly every moment in our day, we encounter one form or another of distracting media. With our eyes always on the screen, we can sometimes forget to see what is most important. A study in 2008 polled college students and found that 8 in 10 experienced stress daily. Much of this unnecessary stress is likely linked to our overuse of technology. These numbers are likely to go up as time goes on and our dependence on technology tightens.

One study looking at the effect technology has on our stress levels showed that 38 percent of participants always feel anxious without their phone, while 58 percent claim to always check their phones the instant they receive a notification. Our extremely tight connection to technology will inevitably lead to a lot of stress if we depend on it too much. With finals just around the corner, it is important that we take some time to reduce any unnecessary stress in our lives. One effective tool for reducing stress is to practice mindfulness.

A study looking at the effects of mindfulness found that those who participated in a mindfulness program reported lower levels of stress than those who did not participate. One of the most common methods for practicing mindfulness is to pay attention to your breathing. Simply focus on each breath as it comes in and out. When a distracting thought comes in, acknowledge it and let it pass. Don’t beat yourself up if you keep getting intruding thoughts, just keep refocusing on your breath. All of your attention should be only on the feeling of each breath.

Just by putting your phone away and focusing on your breath for about five to ten minutes, you can give yourself a clear mind. By removing your attention from all the distractions in your life, you can begin to focus on the moment at hand and give yourself a much-needed reset. Practicing this will help you better focus on one thing at a time and can help give you a clear mind as you begin studying for finals. Although it may be difficult to cut ourselves off from modern technology, doing it from time to time can help us gain the clear mind necessary for handling stressful situations one at a time.