Monday, April 27, 2015

e cleansing?! Are we there already?

"I am going to India for 10 days. Do I need any shots?" A young man asked.
"Depends on the places you will be visiting in India," I said.
"I'll just be at an Ashram in Bangalore," he said.
"Ashram? Associated with which temple?" I asked.
" This trip is not religious. So no temple or any Baba or Godman involved. This is for e cleansing," he said.
"E cleansing? What is that?" I asked, my interest piqued.
"My wife and I are both going. Its electronic and social media cleansing," he said.
"Really? So how does it work?" I was really interested now.
"You go to this resort-ashram and for 1 week, you are totally disconnected from the world," he said. I could see that even thinking about it made him restless.
"Disconnected from the world? So no cell phones?" I asked.
"No cell phones, no TV, no laptops, no internet connection... nothing," he said, sounding nervous. "Oh God...I don't know if I'll be able to handle it."
He won't make it the whole week, I thought to myself.  "Why are you doing this?" I asked.
"Because in our house, our lives revolve around our i phones. We barely get our noses out of our phones. There is no conversation in our house anymore. Its all about facebook, twitter, whatsapp, i messaging...Before I started this crazy texting, I didn't even know my thumb could get a cramp!" 
"So what happens when you get out of there, after the week is over?" I asked.
He gave me a wry smile and threw up his hands.

Are we getting to a stage where we consciously have to disconnect from our electronic devices to connect with real people? There is a barrage of information, a 24-hour news cycle, keeping up with what your good friends and the "not-so-good" ones are up to, the whatsapp videos about cute babies and funny monkeys....and oh yes... there's work, and kids, and social never ends. It might be worthwhile to connect more to your significant other, than to your mobile device!

Well, the reality is we can't avoid social media, and we should not try to either. Social media is a great tool for a variety of social & professional issues. How we use or abuse a tool is entirely up to us. If we find ourselves trawling endlessly through "friends" and "friends-of-friends" Facebook profiles, it distracts us from taking care of our own lives. The American Psychology Association (APA) is conducting research these days to add IAD as one of the recognized disorders. And what is IAD ? not the Dulles's "Internet Addictive Disorder"!

"I like my new smart phone, my i pad works just fine, my laptop is perfect, but God, I do miss my mind." ~ Author unknown


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Stressing out Stress!!

A few weeks ago, I walked in to see my first patient of the day.
"Good morning," I said, recognizing the young energetic man. "What's going on?"
"Hey doc, I'm so stressed that even my stress is stressed out". The young man was wringing his hands. He looked anxious.
I knew this was going to be a longer consultation than usual. "Stress" is the fashionable word in the fast moving times we live in. But I had never heard it used three times in one sentence. And it was a short sentence too! For a moment, I didn't know what to say.
"Why are you so stressed?" I asked.
"Well doc, work is busy, I have deadlines to meet. We acquired a new company, and since then the work load has tripled. I have seven year old twins........" And he went on and on and on.

After the young man had left, I started to wonder what "stress" really means.

For most people, its a monster that rears its ugly head more often when we can't or won't cope with our circumstances. The situation, for the most part, is our own creation. Occasionally, in our lives, there will be real stress because of circumstances and situations we have no control over. And it's okay to be 'stressed' at that time.

But I do think stress is the most overused word of our time. It's almost an excuse to shirk a task or responsibility. As an author famously quoted that "Stress is a socially acceptable form of mental illness!" Here's some advice to avoid stress-- Go on a no 'Nuts' diet. Avoid people who drive you 'Nuts'!

But seriously, a lot of us do believe that controlling the pace of our lives, for the most part, is in our own hands. Life puts a lot of demands on us, but there are always choices. The real test is to make choices that are in sync with what we want our life to be. An understanding of the difference between price and value, and striking a balance between wants & needs, goes a long way to reduce stress. The social fabric of our communities would be even stronger, if there was more focus on life, rather than lifestyle.

"I am so stressed out at being stressed out that I can't even remember why I'm stressed out....and it's stressing me out!" ~ Anonymous