Overload Alert: “Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” — Gertrude Stein
Too Much Info
Information comes to us in different ways: in the form of noise like the music we hear, the hustle and bustle of city streets, or the chirping of birds in the morning; in the things we see such as the shape of clouds, the green of a forest or the blue of the sky; as a smell or taste, and even the soft touch of a summer breeze. This is how we connect with the physical world around us, and it is an ever-present provider of sensory information. Alternatively, there is intangible information, the knowledge we collect from experience, the thoughts we have in our day-to-day lives, the conversations we have with other people. So apart from the sensory information we are obligated to observe and analyze, there is now another stream of constant information that we can dive into whenever we have a couple of seconds (thank you smartphones).
Our entire experience very much consists of gaining data, processing data, absorbing or discarding said data, and proceeding onto the next data set. It is an exhilarating process, and our brains love doing it; even when idle our inner voice is constantly debating with itself, working on problems we didn’t even know we had. Even this piece of writing is an indulgence of my ever roaming mind, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Information is not inherently bad, quite contrarily, without all the information we have gathered as a species over our relatively short existence, we would not have come so far (relative only to our planet, who knows what is actually out there). It is the inability to stop processing information that is causing stress. And stress makes us stupid.
What to do
What are some methods that helps reduce stress? These are some of the things I enjoy doing that puts me in the moment, isolating my mind and forcing me to be present:
- I play basketball frequently, which has been neglected ever since I picked up a skateboard a month ago. I love the rush that can be achieved when I am fully in a sport, the calm and quiet that can be attained are the times when I feel most at home in my body
- Everyone has their favorite songs, and it is always a joy to put on something that reminds you of happy emotions. One recent experience I had was standing on the shores of a beach in Hong Kong, in the middle of the night, and listening to “I need an Energy” by Greg Holden. With the waves caressing my feet and staring into the night sky…bliss
- Books & Nature
- Reading in nature has always struct a chord with me. Lying on a beach and reading, sitting against a tree and reading, sprawled out on grass and reading…they all sound like a fun and relaxing way to get away from it all. It doesn’t have to be a novel either, comics (graphics novels if you must) are also a great alternative. Pick a book and just head out to a park, bring some lemonade, maybe even a sandwich. Sit back, relax and let the words or illustrations wash over you.
- Getting your hands dirty once in a while is a fun way to develop a skill, or to have some productive down time. I personally like to play video-games, and stepping into a fantastical world and exploring is one of the funnest things to me. I also like building models, drawing and taking photos. There’s a myriad of different hobbies out there: book-binding, scrap-booking, tabletop gaming…the list goes on and on. Pick a poison and enjoy!
- There’s is already plenty of resources on meditation and its benefits. It is a great way to start my day. It helps me to regroup myself internally during the day. It helps me to relax before bed. Through centering my mind and learning to listen to my thoughts without judgement, I have learned to be kinder to myself and to others, to be more empathetic, and to enjoy each moment even more.