A few months ago, I found my brain scattered, tired, and generally tense. When I slowed to reflect, I realized I was carrying stress outside my awareness. Juggling work, home, parenting, relationships, life transitions, emails, texts, news, professional research, social media, etc. was overwhelming my brain. These activities weren’t unhealthy, but the output of my life was out of balance. I took a social media break and noticed quickly I felt better. That break has become a more permanent practice as I’ve remembered that what we put in, our life input, significantly impacts how we show up daily in life, our life output.
Do you ever find yourself trying to make an external change and it just isn’t working? Maybe you’re trying to reduce stress, increase joy, improve a relationship, or live less overwhelmed. You may keep trying to make adjustments to the output of your life without slowing down to consider how the input might need to be adjusted. In reality, true change happens from the inside out.
In our fast, achievement-focused, entertainment-hungry culture, it’s easy to become desensitized to anxiety-inducing input available daily. You wake up to news, social media, political commentary. You are inundated with messaging about how you aren’t enough, you need to be better, you need to have more. You are told who is right, who you should be against, what you should fear, what you should know, and how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It’s hard to be more patient, kind, and peaceful when the input screams to worry more, do more, and be angrier.
The great news is you have the power to evaluate and adjust your input to create life balance. You get to decide the quantity and sources of information. You get to choose the boundaries regarding your time, activities, and practices you engage to pursue more joy and peace. So, what does it look like to begin adjusting your input to experience a healthier output?
5 Ways to Practice Adjusting Your Life Input to Experience Healthier Life Output
1. Slow down and notice where you are out of balance. Notice body tension, relationship tension, negative thoughts, unhealthy self-talk, road rage, impatience, irritability, sleep problems, anxiety, over/under eating, overspending, drug/alcohol use, feeling victimized by life.
2. Evaluate your input. Take a week to notice and note your input practices. Notice what you’re looking at/listening to when you wake, drive, work, in your leisure time, before bed. Check the hour count on your phone use. Notice the hour count on social media, what you follow, and how it makes you feel. Notice the messaging/attitudes of input. Are they fear-based, critical, dehumanizing? Are they encouraging, solution-focused, inspiring?
3. Curate your input life feed. Give yourself radical permission to unfollow, quit the show, change the station, distance from relationships, reduce exposure to input that is not a fit with the world view you desire. You don’t have to follow things that make you feel irrational fear, insecurity, and hopelessness. It’s okay to unfollow positive things and friends if they are impacting you negatively. Try unfollowing negative inputs for 1-2 weeks and make notes about your feelings, mindset, clarity of thought, state of overwhelm or calm. Keep in mind this can be challenging as your brain may be addicted to the dopamine hit you’ve been getting from some of the inputs. Push through the discomfort. It’s worth it.
4. Create space. In place of excessive input, try incorporating an activity or two that creates calm and mental space. Take a walk, look at something beautiful, listen to calming music, be quiet, engage a spiritual practice, garden, hike, go for a bike ride, whatever else works for creating space.
5. Implement long-term input changes. Use your collected input data to decide which things you will let go of long-term and take action steps. Remove apps, unfollow, find a new station, put limits on your phone, etc. Find consistent time to include your space activities. Determine the balance that works and begin practicing. This doesn’t need to be perfect. You can continue observing, learning, and making adjustments over time.
Evaluating your input is uncomfortable work but very worth the payoff of living a more balanced, less overwhelmed life. Connect with us for coaching and counseling support along your journey at www.journeybravely.com.