Radio Silence

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly being bombarded by information and you find it difficult to relax and hear your own voice amidst all the noise?


Today’s human world is full of fantastic ways to entertain and distract ourselves, no matter where we are or what we’re doing – streaming TV, podcasts, audiobooks, online music, social media videos, game apps. If you’re anything like my human, Annie, it might be rare for you to spend any time without something playing on your headphones.


Recently, Annie did an online course about mindset and creativity (from Charlie at Urban Writers’ Retreat), and one of the exercises she told me about sounded like an interesting experiment I wanted to share with my readers.


It’s called: Radio Silence.


The recommendation is that you spend some time (ideally a whole day, but an hour or two is fine) without any external input – TV, music, the internet, email, text messages, your phone, or any other type of audio or video.


Annie tried it by going out for a 90-minute walk, only using her phone a few times to check her location on the map. Usually, the first thing she does when leaving the flat (or cooking or doing the laundry or knitting or any number of other activities) is to pop in her headphones and set something playing.


She told me afterwards that the experience was a very interesting one. For the first third of the walk, she said she felt an overwhelming urge to keep checking her phone for messages and even resorted to talking out loud to herself in the street to distract herself from the silence! By the middle of the walk, she’d relaxed into it a bit more, though she was admittedly distracted by being on a rather busy road with no pavements. Towards the end, there were hills to climb and she felt as if they were harder without any entertainment in her ears to take her mind off the exertion. However, she also felt as if she was noticing her surroundings more and being more in the moment.


When she left the retreat location to go on the walk, she was feeling overwhelmed and as if her brain was very full – but afterwards, she said she felt much more relaxed and calm.


The next day, some minor technical difficulties and negotiations with a difficult client meant Annie was really irritated when she set out for her daily walk. She put a fun podcast on and was successfully distracted from her annoyance while out. But, when she got back to the house and switched the podcast off, all those feelings of irritation came flooding back, just as strong as before.


It seems to me as if taking time out from external information overload might well be of benefit! It’s possible your mind needs time to process emotions and thoughts without having to deal with distracting media. And it’s definitely true that you’re more likely to pay attention to your surroundings and see things you wouldn’t otherwise, if you’re putting effort into being in the moment.


So, next time you’re about to put your headphones in to entertain yourself on a walk or distract yourself from a tedious activity, why not try some radio silence and really pay attention to what you’re doing instead?


Let me know how you get on and what experiences you have with trying this exercise, or if there’s anything in your life you’d like my thoughts on!


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