Rest and Relaxation

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, September 01, 2021
By coralgables_admin

Sometimes I set out to rest, relax, recharge. But I end up on my phone. On social media.

I do this, I think because I want to feel productive. Sitting idle feels so passive. Feels like such a waste.

But if I got gossip or “news” from social media, then I “did something.” I didn’t just sit there slack-jawed staring into space – I got caught up on current events, stayed in the know. Now I don’t feel guilty for resting. I feel accomplished.

women with phones

What a bunch of baloney, right?! But admit it, you’ve done it too.

We say that the phone is for work. To read the news. To make life better. To stay connected.

But it’s an addiction. Not just because of the bright lights and colors. (Which is true – studies have compared the smartphone and social media to slot machines, in the way our brain rewards us with happy chemicals when the buttons are pushed and the screen blinks with “likes”). But this new technology is also problematic in that it helps us JUSTIFY our “downtime.”  The problem is, our brains don’t register the Instagram scrolling as downtime. It’s overstimulation. It’s more visual engagement. It takes cognitive and emotional bandwidth. In short, it’s exhausting rather than relaxing.

I find I can’t tolerate idle time anymore. No more doodling. No more daydreaming. No more staring at nature or just listening to the background noise. No ma’am, not for me. I grab that phone in my pocket like a security blanket.

It stops me from feeling uneasy or lazy or bored … or anything. It’s the ultimate distraction tool. Which is great if you need a distraction. But half the time the phone distracts me from the rest and relaxation I had planned for the hour.

So I’m more tired than ever. And in truth, I haven’t gotten anything more accomplished than in the “pre-smartphone days.”

But boy, do I feel productive! Now that I know what Britney Spears did today and what some guy from high school named his 3rd kid ….

Technology does make life easier. And the ability to connect globally via social media is pretty awesome. But we need more conscious consumption. And greater awareness of the downside of these new toys. Just like learning the safe way to drive a car, we need to practice smarter smartphone use for our greater good.

Also, don’t text while driving!

-Don’t grab the phone first thing in the morning. Try to stretch or breathe or pray or meditate for just 5 minutes first.

-Try to use the bathroom with just your thoughts to accompany you.

-Unless you have urgent news pending or waiting on a call about your kid, leave the phone across the room during your rest and relaxation time. Turned upside down so you don’t see the screen light up.

-Spend 5 minutes quietly staring at nature.

-Try to wind down at night with a book instead of Facebook.


“Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand – relax!” – Osh O