This was a blog post I wrote for my old website 'Happiness Is A Pancake'......
Having recently had a baby and read about the effects of overstimulation on their mood and sleep. This got me thinking about the same issue within adults. My question....how does modern day life's fashion for overstimulation effect happiness?
I started to become aware of how and when I was using different forms of media. Instead of focusing all of my attention on one task or one form of media, I was splitting my attention and senses between multiple tasks and media. I don't just watch the TV; I usually have it playing whilst I am focused on another task. This 'background noise' of constant story-lines, adverts and jingles flood my mind with messages that could and do affect my mood on both a conscious and subconscious level.
I consciously select TV programs and music that give me a happy vibe. On reflection this is just a surface feeling not a deep and real feeling of happiness.
My over stimulation was worse when I was at work full time. I would wake and have my breakfast whilst watching the TV, take the dog for a walk and check my phone and social media, listen to the radio as I drove to work, be non-stop busy at work - no time for a lunch hour. Then leave work pop the radio on, get home and take the dog for a walk...check social media again before doing more work at home and getting dinner ready with the TV on in the background.
I had a real and quite serious lack of space in my mind back then. Which meant that only surface thoughts and feelings were acknowledged. This lack of acknowledgement for deep emotions can make it harder to make and sustain true happiness. Buried emotions are like toxins and will surface, instead of manifesting as a big old spot you may feel anxious, stressed and tired.
Life is busy, there is a need to cram in as much action into as little time as possible. We have become blind to the negative affects of overstimulation because it's become the norm. Our focus has been taken away from ourselves with regards to our mental health and happiness and re-focused on work, media consumption and doing as much as we can in a short time frame.
As you would take a daily multivitamin take a daily moment to just stop and breath. During your mind space time focus on being calm; on calm breathing, and relaxing all your muscles. Allow your mind to relax, day dream about what's most important to you and your happiness.
Try and do this over the Easter break for 5 minutes each day. Find a relaxing space and be restful with no phone, computer, TV etc. Just you and the natural sounds around you. This will activate the bodies natural relaxation response helping to diminish the stress of over stimulation and bringing your nervous system back into balance.
After each session try and be aware of how you feel physically, mentally and emotionally. Do you feel energized? Has your mood lifted or do you need to take a bit longer than 5 minutes?