Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I am going on a diet

Oooh, so I see some screens down there?  
Oh well, just books!
Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I am 77 pages away from finishing my book this week.  I had a huge anatomy & physiology exam this morning and I had a hard time studying for it.  I just couldn't seem to engage with the material like I usually do.  I found myself picking up my Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close book instead, completely engaged with every word.

And while I didn't perform to a perfect standard, as I like to do on exams of all sorts, I still think I did OK.  The cool part was that I wasn't stressed or panicked during the exam.  I wasn't hastily scribbling down my answers for fear that if I took too long the information would somehow escape like sands through a broken hourglass.  I was calm and I took my time, thinking through each question and making sure to breathe.  It was a completely different experience.

It may have come from having a calm place to go besides always staring at a screen for entertainment.  I have my book.  It is stimulating in an entirely different way then a screen is.  Screens can create overstimulation for myself.  And the social media aspect, the Facebook and messaging and Pinning and checking to see if anyone repined or liked your identity in the form of a virtual dream collage, creates a state of anticipation that acts like a stress response in the body.

Sure, it is fun for a bit, but prolonged exposure to the stress hormones isn't so great for your body.  I heard a classmate share that when she was teaching high school in Japan, several of her students complained of not being able to sleep because they didn't want to stop texting and Facebooking.  Kids are losing sleep over this?  Because they have to respond to the next message, and the next, and the next?

It all brings me back to a nagging notion that I have has since starting "Read a Book a Week" month.  I need to go on a diet.  A screen diet.  Did I ever tell you that once during game of charades, my 6 year old picked my name, and to act like me she pretended to be sitting at the computer?  If I did tell you already, it's because I felt incredibly guilty after that.  I want to be present to my kids, to my family and friends, not the screen.

I keep resisting it though.  It is such an easy outlet for that thing I wrote about last, procrastination.  But maybe so can a book.  Or cleaning my apartment.  Or being productive in some other way than surfing the web, doing "research" and seeing if any blog readers have popped up from Saudi Arabia this week.  Those stats are so cool, though.  Thanks for reading, whoever you are in Jiddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia!

So, here it is, another challenge...besides blogging, only 1 hour of screen time per day for the next week.  It may still seem like a lot to some of you, but that is cutting it considerably for me.  I hate to even admit that, but it is true.  I want to create a new habit, and I know that it is possible.  Perhaps difficult, but possible.

My last challenge I gave myself was during January's Healthival festival.  During Healthival, I followed through completely on almost half of the 18 things on my list.  That was pretty good for me, considering the list, and my unintentional aversion to some of the things on it.  This challenge is more simple in some ways, but so pervasive.  And as much as I can look procrastination in the face with a refreshing and nonjudgmental perspective, I can't hide from my inner voice any longer.

(Crap.  I am already thinking.  I do not want to do this.  But I have to.  Must summon English bulldog determination.  Thanks, Bikram!)

And now onto another pressing issue, what book to read next?  Do I stick with the theme I have going of reading Books nominated for Best Picture this year?  Or do I just grab something off my shelf at random?


PS...If you join me on the screen diet, reading Good Luck With That! doesn't count.  It's free screen time. Everything has it's exceptions, right?



sophanne said...

Screen diet is a GREAT plan. I use the ipad for knitting patterns (as if it were a book) but limit internet/facebook time to about a half hour after school and another half hour before bed. I disengaged myself from Pinterest- If I want some interesting stuff online, I go to StumbleUpon. My iPad crashes after a few rounds of that app which is just fine with me. Even if I'm reading a book on the screen it feels different than being connected with the entire universe~which IS exhausting.

Melissa Baumgart said...

It is exhausting, you're right, sophanne. I still worry about being able to follow through. I really worry about it. Like, how do I handle things like getting homework problems. I guess that won't count, as long as I DO NOT quickly check FB a and such.
My week starts tomorrow, so I'll likely be online all night.