Obliged to answer and be reachable
I might have been a bit obsessive about answering others and being available – even a tiny bit OCD. There was a time when I had to reply to each email I received. Yes, in an exchange with friends, I always had to say something at the end – if only “thank you” – before I could let it go.
Even now on Facebook, I have to reply to each comment I get on my posts. Otherwise, I feel I am being rude or not acknowledging my friends’ comments.
Do you have little ticks too? Did you notice how the Internet and smartphones have brought up some issues, like the need to constantly be available?
We feel we need to be available 24/7, and that puts stress on us. We almost forget to live our lives without being slaves to the dings and pings.
Now it is time to learn to prioritize again. I learnt to be more assertive and take time off from the call of my electronics.
I will just list a couple of lessons I went through – maybe you can see yourself in some of them too?
Remember the time when you could only check your email on your computer? You only had time to read your emails when you were home. Nowadays, you can check your email constantly, as most of us have access to email on our smartphones.
I would be cooking dinner while constantly checking and replying to emails and messages.
I had my laptop in the kitchen with me, and in between chopping and stirring, I was checking in. I did that till the day I realised I was neither cooking NOR answering my emails properly.
Nowadays, all my devices are banned from my kitchen, and when I cook, I cook with love.
There is an exception, though. My daughter bakes and uses her phone to read the recipes (mostly from Pinterest). I am still old-fashioned and use real cookbooks.
It is ok not to constantly check your email, and to wait a little bit to respond. Nothing will run away while dinner is on the stove.
Social media is a whole new world. How many social media accounts do you maintain? Most of us have Facebook. What about Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or even Snapchat?
The need to be online and active all year round, 24hrs a day is a strong temptation. I know I check on my accounts pretty regularly, posting and then going back – “Oh, I see two people have liked my post,” and then I smile.
Or how about replying and sharing comments? You know, the more you are on social media, the more active you are means the more followers you will eventually have.
The urge is even more of a pull when you have an online business.
When I am going for a hike or just want to relax in nature, I put my smartphone on Airplane Mode. This way, any incoming mail or messages don’t distract me; however, I am still able to take photographs.
When I go out for my daily walks in nature, I often leave my phone behind because I know that, instead of concentrating on the world around me, I’ll be thinking about what I could be talking about on Periscope, what picture I could take, and what message would go along with the picture, or what I could be sharing about connecting with nature.
I often have to take my brain away from thinking about what to put on social media, and come back into the here and now, and just consciously breathe or enjoy nature, without having to constantly share everything.
Yes, a walk in nature without my phone is a welcome relaxation time.
Take a time out from social media. Allow yourself to just be.
Online Readings on Chat
I used to be registered for the Psychic World Platform so that I can give readings online. It is easy there, like in a store, with an Open and Closed Sign. You can indicate whether you are online or offline quite easily.
Of course, I wanted to be online as often as possible, so now I had another system to check on to see whether someone comes in and wants to chat with me.
It is very tempting to really be there online constantly; however, again, I learnt to put on some healthy boundaries.
One night it was 5 pm, and I felt tired. My first thought was, “But maybe someone will come and want a reading, so I should stay online. I might miss out on business.”
Then I realised it was my health at risk because I want to work such long hours, and actually it was time to be offline and to relax.
It is like walking out of an office after work hours versus staying after hours. I do NOT need to be constantly available.
I need time for my children, and also time for myself.
So I put the CLOSED sign up and enjoyed a lovely evening.
Allow yourself to step away and enjoy a free evening too.
The pull to be eternally available is the same with the phone. People call all day and into the night. Mothers, like me, feel like we should be reachable 24/7/365 for our kids, just in case of an emergency.
Most of us grew up with just a fixed phone in our homes. We never had mobile phones. If we were out, we could call our mothers from a phone booth – if we could find one – but our mothers would only pick up if they were home. It was usually OK.
It seems like the phone calls that seem urgent nowadays are often things that could wait or that might not even be important enough to really chat about.
Relax. We are not the only ones responsible.
Allow yourself to be UNAVAILABLE every now and then. It is ok. The world will keep turning.
I remember a time, years ago, when I went for an outing with my three kids. A friend needed help and she texted me, so I spent the afternoon texting back and forth with my friend. When we were on our way home, I realised that I had totally missed out on the fun adventure with my kids. I missed out on sharing the joy and just being with my kids.
Yes, it is ok to help a friend. Sometimes, however, it is more important to be in the present moment and just enjoy time with your loved ones.
Allow yourself some priority time, and allow yourself to say NO every now and then. This is your life.
Where can you take a retreat?
What can you do to tame the urge to be online constantly?
How do you feel about social media and being accessible all the time?
How do you step away from it all?
Enjoy a wonderful week.
Take time out from the frenzy of the Internet every now and then.
Feel good about not being available all the time. It might feel awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it.