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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

4 Steps to Losing the Electronic Leash

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 16th 2009

tied upIt happens to almost all of us, it's close to unavoidable. Electronic gadgets like Blackberries, IPhones, and regular computing devices are everywhere sending us texts, special messages from facebook and twitter, emails, voicemails, soon-to-be ESP (extrasensory perception) messages, and giving us access to an overwhelming amount of information anywhere anytime.

I was at a 2 year old birthday party the other day and the amount of parents fiddling with their phones sealed the notion in my mind that we need reminders in life to lose the electronic leash.

Take 4 steps to break the cycle and come back to what is most important right now. This may be staying connected to the electronic leash, but at least it will be intentional.

  1. Stop & Breathe- Stop what you are doing and come to the breath for a moment. Just say to yourself in and out.

  2. Feet - Feel your feet on the floor, actually sense into the feelings (e.g., warmth, coolness, achiness, tingling, pressure))

  3. Sky - Look up at the sky and just observe what you see. As much as possible without judgments (e.g. good/bad, right/wrong).

  4. Question - What am I intending to do in this moment, what is most important right now.

My guess is that if many of the parents did this during this party, they may have noticed the wonder and excitement in their children and it may have prompted the understanding that time goes by fast and it is only this moment that we have.

In our own lives, we often don't notice something until it's gone (e.g., 9/11 or someone close passing away).

There's nothing wrong with our electronics, they help us in countless ways, however, it is good to pay attention to what we're missing out on and become more conscious of our use of it. Sometimes we're using them because we really need the information in the moment, sometimes we use them to avoid uncomfortable feelings, while other times it's just habit .

Try these four steps in daily life even without the electronics, see what changes.

If you'd rather close your eyes and be guided with audio, here is a short one on using a mindfulness practice to sprinkle throughout your day.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.  

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work™ program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

Others who still love the electronic leash - - Dec 27th 2009

Hello-

I don't believe in letting my cell phone act like an "electronic leash".  If I'm focused on doing something, like spending time with a friend or working on a project, I won't turn the phone on, or will ignore a call if I receive one.  I don't think this is impolite--I view it as vital to my sanity, and indicative of the value I place on the person I am spending time with, etc.

When I receive messages, I typically return them as soon as possible, with an informal policy (for myself) that I will return non-urgent calls within 24 hours.  I feel this is very reasonable--sometimes I'm just plain busy, and don't have time to dedicate to a phone call without sacrificing something else, or not really paying attention during the call.

This seems to infuriate some people though (particularly my mother).  I don't think it's fair for others to dictate my schedule, but she believes that leaving me three messages in an hour, and being angry that I didn't respond to any of them within 2 hours, is entirely reasonable.

How can you approach someone who really believes that the cell phone should be on all of the time, and that you should answer regardless of what you are doing?

These Are The Same Parents... - Cathy - Nov 16th 2009

The parents are the ones that will be saying in about 10 years that they are having problems with their children - they will not know their children.  They tell themselves that they stay busy this way in order to buy their kids those finer things in life.  They put them in daycare during the day and often have a babysitter in the evening.  The electronics, the constant buzz, becomes their escape from the world - you forgot the television I think.  Any way to disconnect from the reality of their lives.  I was talking to a neighbor that told me, my son broke two of my cell phones and I said why did he do that and she said that he said she was always texting and not paying any attention to him - she said it was true.  Another mother told me that her son gets mad because she spends most of her time in the evening on the computer instead of talking with him and maybe playing a board game - she admits this is true.  The first child is 10 and the second child is 17 and both have have several behavioral problems.  I did remind them that these were their children and that they will grow up and not be with them forever.  I am just perplexed with what the heck is wrong with more people than not these days.  It is sad but it is a question of priorities and values and it will take more than a couple minutes to straighten that out.

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