Are you hyperconnected?

Girl staring at social and tech icons.
Image courtesy Needpix.com

Probably. And it could be causing you problems.

Hyperconnected is characterized by widespread and habitual use of devices that have Internet connectivity. Which basically means that lots of people have easy access to the Internet, and they use it all the time. 

But herein lies the problem, as Chris so adequately describes in his article: “The result is most of us are overstimulated, hyperconnected, stressed, and in drastic need of rest. Sleep helps, but what’s the first thing many of us reach for in the morning on waking? Our smartphones. The technology we now have available is truly incredible. How we use it is not always so incredible.”

Spot on. Up until this year, I was guilty of being “hyperconnected” – I checked my phone upon waking and right before bed, emails while out to dinner with family and friends, even browsing social networks during my Dungeons & Dragons sessions. My phone was always on me, and it wasn’t until I entered therapy for anxiety and started exploring mindfulness and well-being strategies that I realized how insanely hyperconnected I was.

And that it wasn’t a good thing. 

So I asked Lexi Burrows, our Education and Wellbeing Assistant, for some tips to combat being so hyperconnected. Here’s what she said:

Hyperconnectivity really is a terrible source of anxiety and stress in today’s society and it is crucial that we begin to take time out, otherwise, our mental health will definitely suffer!

The majority of us are so engaged with social media and the internet that we regularly lose touch with reality and our wellbeing suffers as a result. I think myself, and pretty much everyone I know, has fallen victim to this trap. For girls in particular, studies have shown that social media and sites about beauty and fashion are particularly influential on our self-esteem and, if we look at them very regularly, then our wellbeing suffers. We become completely disconnected from reality and absorbed in problems that frequently are of no real importance – such as getting really stressed that someone else has got more likes on their Facebook profile picture, or looking at Instagram and being worried that your eyebrows are not perfectly ‘on fleek’. So, let’s have a look at what we can do to improve our wellbeing and consider what museums can do to help us along the way!

New Economics Foundation produced a guide in 2008 called ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’. The ways that they recommend we can improve our mental wellbeing are easy and also help us to disconnect from the internet and connect with ourselves instead! The pointers that they discuss include making sure that we connect with LIFE and interact with the people around us, as this improves our wellbeing by ensuring we remain connected to reality and don’t get drowned by the online world. Museums can be good places for this as they can hold tours, handling sessions, or lectures where visitors can engage in conversation and debate.

Being active is also a really big contributor to improved wellbeing – I can vouch for this! You can find whichever level of exercise works well for you, whether it’s a walk around a park feeding ducks or something more intense like running a marathon. Exercise is good as it releases endorphins which make us feel happy and positive. Museums can be the motivation behind the exercise – maybe take a walk to your local museum and spend the day looking round; all that walking will certainly help your wellbeing! Some museums can even hold exercise classes in-house, or promote exercise clubs in the local area. Here at Girl Museum, we have a vast array of podcasts, which you can download and listen to as you walk or work out! 

It is also very important to take notice of our everyday lives. We need to look around us and really see what is happening and feel what we are feeling – this is often referred to as mindfulness. Museums can incorporate mindfulness into their practice by holding sessions that look closely at artworks, or even holding yoga and tai chi sessions within their galleries. We can easily do this ourselves by taking time out of our day, it need only be around 20 or 30 minutes, so that we can check in with our bodies and minds. We can do this by meditating, yoga, or simply sitting and listening to our thoughts, noting down anything that’s causing us stress and methodically thinking of how we can solve any problems we’re having.

Another important point is how we should all try and keep learning! Engaging with new subjects or taking on more responsibilities at work boosts our confidence and expands our minds. Museums are a brilliant resource for this, as different eras of history and other resources like art and artefacts can bring inspiration and enable us to learn something new. Museums can hold educational classes and lessons for their visitors which will help us to learn. At Girl Museum, our constantly evolving exhibitions and educational guides mean that you can continue learning, and you can also help others to learn!

The fifth and final tip from New Economic Foundation is how giving has lots of wellbeing benefits. Giving to a stranger or doing something nice for a friend really boosts mental wellbeing as it means we are helping others. Volunteering with a museum is a perfect way to do this. Volunteering also means you can develop your skills and keep on learning! You can visit Girl Museum’s ‘Resources’ page to find non-profits and initiatives that support girls’ rights, education, and well-being – so consider volunteering for one in your community. Some of our favorites are Global Girl Media and Girls Who Code, both of which have clubs throughout the United States. 

You may have noticed that all of these tips don’t involve looking at screens and being online! It is highly important that we all ensure we take time out of our day away from technology to connect with OURSELVES – not hyperconnect! I really hope that you follow some of these tips that I have spoken about today and that you notice improvements yourselves!

– Tiffany Rhoades & Lexi Burrows

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