This Wellness Wednesday, I bring you a reflective piece about slowing down, giving ourselves uninterrupted time to think, and observing what comes up for us. There is power in bringing your attention back to yourself. I hope reading this post inspires you to invite more mindfulness into your day and to prioritize yourself.
Making time to think without interruption is something I consciously have to do these days. I know that’s a weird statement, but stay with me on this. We are constantly stimulated with things to do, media to consume, people to talk to, and things to buy. All-day. When I look at how much screen time I spend on my phone or laptop, I’m disturbed. Of course, nowadays, I spend more time than usual plugged in since many of the things I do or enjoy have to be done online now. However, seeing how many hours I spent looking at a screen each week shifted something for me.
I watch a lot of YouTube, like a lot of people I know. And if I’m not careful, I can spend around 2-3 hours looking at YouTube videos in a single day. Sometimes I find myself watching videos that are like junk food after a while – they don’t really satisfy what I’m hungry for or give me any kind of nutritional value. Last year in November I decided to block YouTube from all of my devices for an entire week. The intention then was for me to redirect my energy and focus on what was most pressing at the time. By the second day of no YouTube, I realized two very important things.
The first was that I craved some form of entertainment to get me through the day. Whenever I saw someone watching a video, my eyes naturally floated to their screen. At one point, I resorted to playing Candy Crush… I haven’t played that game in what feels like decades now. I don’t even care about that game. If that game was somehow deleted entirely without a trace to bring it back, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it (no offense to Candy Crush fanatics). What was I actually looking for? Many things. I was looking for ways to entertain myself, relax, avoid my responsibilities, and soothe myself.
The second thing I realized was that I had so much more time to think. When I wasn’t feeding myself hours of YouTube videos or pacifying myself in other ways, I had more time in silence. I had more time to appreciate the present moment. I had more time to observe my thoughts and ask myself questions. The reality is that I still had the same 24 hours in a day that I always had, but with this space to think, it felt as though time went by slower. As a result, I started to feel better. I felt more grounded, connected to my own thoughts and opinions, and connected to the present moment.
This doesn’t have to be about YouTube (and it isn’t, frankly). Some people like to scroll down Instagram for hours on end, some are gamers all day, and some are just constantly working or taking classes. All of us have our own obligations and relationships to maintain, as well as our favorite mediums to entertain ourselves. What this is about is the fact that a lot of the time, we don’t slow down and consciously give ourselves time to be with ourselves – and nothing else. Even when many of us are encouraged to stay indoors for a while, we fill the gaps of our day with some kind of stimulant. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t work, connect with others, or consume our favorite media. I am saying that we could benefit from having some time each day reserved just for us. No videos, no games, no music, no conversations with others. Just you and only you. How does the idea of that make you feel?
To some people, that sounds like heaven. To others, it sounds a little scary and intimidating. Maybe to others, it just sounds kinda boring. I challenge you to try a few minutes in silence and notice your tendencies. Can you sit in silence for 10 minutes and not look at your phone? What do you think about while you’re sitting there? Does your mind immediately go to the tasks you have to do for the day, for example? Observe yourself. Without judging anything or going down the rabbit hole with one of your thoughts, notice what comes up for you.
When you give yourself time to think, you give yourself time to be. You give yourself time to come up with your own conclusions, work through challenging emotions, and appreciate the present. Perhaps what I’m recommending here is that we all commit to a few moments of mindfulness each day and see how that feels for us. After all, a big part of our wellness journeys involves checking in with ourselves. How can we work through limiting beliefs if we haven’t observed them yet? How can we notice how tired we are if we don’t take a second to acknowledge it?
Let’s give ourselves the gift of our own time and attention. Instead of question prompts this week, I would like to offer two challenges:
- Spend 10 minutes of uninterrupted time today with yourself. Notice what comes up for you.
- Take inventory of what takes up most of your attention and energy each day (e.g., working, watching the news, spending time with friends, social media, etc.)
I’ll check-in with you next week – have a well and beautiful rest of your Wednesday!