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1. Read this email. 2. Put down your phone. 3. Take a deep breath. Repeat.
1. Read this email. 2. Put down your phone. 3. Take a deep breath. Repeat.

Screenbreak 📵

Are you tired? We’re now into our second spring of living our real time lives in screen time dimensions: Zoom meetings, on-demand streaming, the 24-hour news cycle, virtual concerts, online birthdays, the Pavlovian pings of social media notifications. The result is a load of cognitive junk that creates fatigue we feel like we just can’t shake. 🥴

Working from home, managing remote school, and a (seemingly) constant connecting with friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues through social media has eroded even more boundaries between our professional and personal lives.

If our constant attachment to our smartphones was bad before the pandemic, it’s worse now. 🤳 KCUR’s Gina Kaufmann examines this phenomenon in her recent Real Humans podcast. Our screens became an extension of ourselves, as the need to be constantly accessible increased, and our phones began to feel more like an appendage than a tool. Ask yourself: would you go to the grocery store, the park, the coffee shop, or even just walk around the block without grabbing your phone first? 

Why not give yourself a break?

Here are a few ideas for changing that screen habit and renewing our relationship with the present. 🧘

Make the break
First, we have to get a handle on how much screens are controlling our attention. Reflect on your day so far. How many screens have you interacted with today? How much time did you spend online? Did you find yourself getting distracted or losing track of time scrolling? ⌛

Once you have an awareness, establish intentionality with your screens as tools for use, not using you.

One quick trick is to take a big breath before opening up a social media app, look at information while you hold your breath, then log off once you release the breath. Breath deeply while you mentally review the information. Did it add value to your life? Do you even remember what you saw? 

If you find yourself “doom scrolling,” think about how your body feels in the moment. Brows knitted? Shoulders hunched? Hand cramped? 😤 Take a deep breath, put down the phone and put yourself through a stretching routine, including hand and face massages. 🧘

Occupy yourself
Once you minimize or limit your screen time, what are you supposed to do? Think of refreshing your former screen time with metaphorical kintsugi (a practice of repairing pottery with lacquer dusted with gold) by spending your time more deliberately and more beautifully. 🌺

Refocus on your activities and relationships, with mindful attention. The tenet of “when walking, just walk; when sitting, just sit,” combats the default of distraction, made more so by our splintered attention due to screens filled with ads, links and likes.

Take a walk somewhere beautiful, accompanied by a volume of poetry, a collection of nature essays or a notebook. If you see something memorable, instead of whipping out your phone, try writing or drawing your experience. 📖✍️

Of course, you want to stay actively informed. Consider listening to the radio (if we may be so bold, turn on KCUR or Classical KC) and if you crave doing something with your hands, try exploring a new craft project: Doodling, watercolor painting, needlepoint, whittling. 🖌️

Deepen your relationships: According to anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dubar, the sweet spot for meaningful interpersonal relationships is around 150 people (known as Dunbar’s Number), and that includes any online friends. Sit down and make a list of the 150 most meaningful people in your life and consider how you could enhance those relationships, instead of relying on an algorithm to tell you what those folks are up to. 💙

Changing your routine
Feeling stressed...did you check your email before you even got out of bed? Feeling tired? It may be your end-of-day scrolling habit. Change up your bedtime routine by turning off screens an hour before bed, and try relaxation exercises or a calming herbal tea. 🍵

Pay closer attention to your transitional moments. Are you waiting in line, for the streetcar, or just between meetings? When you start to reach for your phone, try approaching those moments with curiosity, and take stock of both your physical presence, the way your body feels, the smells and sounds you’re experiencing, and also the environment and people around you.

Reclaim your energy by setting limits for yourself. When you are writing your to-do list, if a task takes less than two minutes to do, do it immediately, no waiting, to help clear cognitive junk from your day. ✔️

Respond to work email 📧 while in the office — or for those of you still working from home, at least during office hours. Turn off notifications and work in focused mode, establishing a time to check email, a time to check social media, and so on, so that you can minimize distractions.

Set aside screen-free time
Identify work (and play) that doesn’t require a screen connection at all. If your workday includes a slew of meetings and assignments, schedule yourself a daily break to step outside for a few minutes for some fresh air. 🌬️

Whether it’s 15 minutes a day or an entire weekend, find an amount of screen-free time that works for yourself, and maybe your whole family. If necessary (say, more than 24 hours), tell the people who need to know (family, boss) and when you’ll get back to them. Your 1,000+ friends on Facebook don’t need to know you’re taking a day off ... it just adds to their cognitive junk. 🧠

What do you do during screen-free time? Just about anything you want. Spend time with your family, help a neighbor, call one of the friends on your 150 list, fly a kite 🪁, take a nap, read a book, pull weeds, plant flowers 🌷, meditate, play frisbee, play disc golf, drive somewhere without a map app, visit a local landmark, go fishing 🎣, bird watch, drink lemonade, climb a mountain (or a really big hill), join a volunteer organization, write a letter, or just sit and examine the simple joys and connection with the people important to you. 😌

Wow, did you get all the way to the end of this newsletter? Gold star! ⭐ So why not put down your phone and take a screen break right now? You deserve it.

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 More Adventures in Kansas City

Mobile Music Box Concerts

The Kansas City Symphony is celebrating spring with five free outdoor Chamber Music concerts at different locations throughout the KC Metro, starting with a show tonight at Indian Mound Park! Learn more and find a concert near you.
World Labyrinth Day

This Saturday, May 1 is World Labyrinth Day. Join participants worldwide by walking one of the KC area's 20 labyrinths. And if you missed it, we gave you several ideas for exploring local labyrinths in our Labyrinth Adventure. (Another great way to take a temporary break from your phone!)

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This was your 95h Creative Adventure email from KCUR 89.3. Catch up on our past issues here.

Photo Credits:
1. Victoria Heath
2. Hannah Olinger
3. Dayne Topkin
4. Wil Stewart
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