Balance and Boredom

The dog days of summer are upon us, so the challenge is to find a balance of how to stay off phones and electronics and how to become bored.  Yes, BORED, the old tried and true confirmation that summer is officially here. We all tend to reminisce about the good old days, way back when we were children, and how we suffered through a hot summer trying to figure out ways to combat boredom.  For me, the memories of building forts or catching fireflies come easily, while those long afternoons of endless boredom seem to have faded with time.

No matter your age, it’s a tough thing to put away the electronics.  We tend to think the electronics NEED us, in order to get work done or to answer someone’s plea on social media, but truly, putting the phone down and giving it a rest, even for a short period, allows for rejuvenation and fresh thoughts. 

I am engaging in this topic because recently, I forgot my phone at home when our family was leaving on a trip. My first thought was anger, which then led to frustration, then resignation, and finally…a sense of freedom.  The freedom came because I was on a vacation with my family, the people I love, and by being present with them, I realized that was the most important part of a vacation.  Although we had a friend FedEx my phone to me, the other important thing I learned was that even though there were things that I could tend to on my phone (emails, texts, etc.) none of it was urgent or couldn’t be taken care of later.  So the remainder of the trip, I did my best to leave my phone behind and focus on the time spent with family and friends.

Here are a few things that may help out, even for a little bit, to keep technology at bay.  In the car, whether driving or riding, stick your phone in the glove compartment, especially on road trips.  The very meaning of a road trip is to stare out the window and look at things in a different way while you mosey along your journey. 

At home, move your phone elsewhere when you watch TV or read. Try treating your cell phone like the “home phone”, by pluging it in to a specific spot and letting it stay there.  Sometimes we forget that our phones are not an appendage, and doesn’t need to go everywhere with us.

Try turning off unimportant notifications.  Some notifications can be important, and you can choose what may need your instant attention, but for the most part, the apps that suck you in (looking at you Facebook!) are the ones that have notifications. Try turning off the noise of those annoying notifications that can absorb you into your phone.

Give yourself a set amount of time to browse apps. Set a timer, and stick to it. Stop using your phone when you are standing in line, or waiting for someone.  It is a crutch.  Use that time to practice random breathing exercises, or making up stories about the person standing in line in front or behind you.  

Don’t use your phone in bed.  Kick it old school and buy an alarm clock instead of using your phone as your alarm. Keeping your phone away from your bed helps combat the urge to check email, texts, social media, and news the minute you wake up.

At our house, we have a dedicated phone table that our family puts their phones on every night at a certain time. The gift of releasing our electronic devices into the netherworld and allowing for free thought and perhaps full blown boredom to creep in is a gift you can give yourself, and the presence of your full attention to those around you is the gift that keeps on giving.