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  • Tammy Arlene

Electronic distractions can create noise clutter in our lives. This type of distraction can cause emotional strain that is reflected in relationships with others, our ability to work, sleep, and maintain healthy eating habits.

Even when things seem quiet, there is noise if we have electronics nearby. It's a buzz that is not obvious - it is running in the background. Constant smartphone alerts, social media messages, texts and breaking news chimes, can leave a person pretty frazzled and disorganized. Just having our devices nearby can create stress.

Alerts and interruptions distract us from important tasks. We weren’t designed to “multi-task” or face constant dings and alarms. Some of these things can’t be avoided, however they can be muted. For example, I use a continuous glucose monitor so I keep my phone handy for extreme high and low alarms. I’ve turned off the other chimes.

Choose alert clutter that is not necessary and silence it. Check emails on a schedule instead of each time one pops in to the inbox. Phone calls are not always urgent, and voicemail can be handy. It may take discipline, and being firm yet kind with others, but it can be done.

Can you take time away from electronics and noise? Perhaps a walk in the forest or a park without any gadgets turned on will give you a much needed break.

Jesus took time away from the noise to focus on what was important, and we can practice this too. Even a short walk on a break can help clear the mind and relieve tension. Can you make time to give it a try?

What are your thoughts?

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  • Tammy Arlene

Let's explore this together. The first thing that comes to mind may not be your heart's answer.

According to Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”

That quote stands out to me when I consider priorities in my life. Let’s take a moment to consider the question and use logic to find the answer. The first place we can look is our bank accounts. Where do we spend money? More importantly, what do we spend it on?

Now, take a look at your time. This is easy to do with a smart phone. Mine tracks my screen time and tells me how much time I spend starting at the gadget. It also tells me what I use and for how long.

Well, maybe I have had one (or ten) too many fancy coffees this last month. However, a couple of those were when I was connecting with others. This type of scrutiny isn’t an all or nothing thing. There is value in getting a latte as long as it is in moderation and we are not straining our finances over the indulgence.

Oops, and looking at my phone I realized I spend a lot of time on social media. Some of it is spent encouraging others, and connecting with people that I can’t see right now because of the pandemic. Maybe I can drop a card or note in the mail to them instead of looking at cat videos for an hour though. Also, I may find time I could spend with family—which is something I truly value.

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  • Tammy Arlene

Anxiety can create mental clutter that can stop us in our tracks. Anxious feelings sneak up on us when we least expect it. We have to take care of ourselves before we can care for others and tackle a busy and potentially stressful day. If we begin and end our day with mindful activities, we may be better able to focus on what is important and healthy and tune out what is not.

Morning suggestion:

What if we could take a few moments for ourselves first thing every day to calm our minds? Instead of picking up the cell phone as soon as the alarm goes off and scrolling news/email, how about reading a daily devotional—preferably on paper and not on a gadget—or a few verses in your Bible? I keep my Bible and a journal by the bedside to remind me to do this. If you do this one small thing before diving into your daily tasks, focus and calm sets in. I also journal for a few minutes and have found that my days start out better when I dump my thoughts onto the page before my feet hit the ground and my busy day starts. Let’s prioritize ourselves and our most important relationship—the one we have with God. Make spending time with God the first thing on your daily to-do list! Try it for a week and let me know how it goes. You may be surprised.

Evening suggestion:

Is there something you enjoy doing? A hobby that you’ve let go because of busyness? For me, I’ve picked up crochet. I recently started working on little squares that I can put together down the road into a cozy blanket. Scheduling bite sized pleasant and stress relieving projects can help calm anxiety and relieve emotional clutter. It can also help us replace habits that don’t serve us well or time wasters (social media or tv binges/unhealthy snacking) that cause regret. While crafting, I like to listen to positive music, audiobooks, and have been considering different audio Bible apps. Sometimes silence is great, and I’ll use the noise canceling headphones that I mentioned yesterday to provide that extra layer of quiet, so I can meditate and relax with my project.

As Paul so eloquently stated in Philippians 4:6, we should not be anxious about anything, God will guard our hearts and minds.

Friend, let’s give these ideas a try. We are worth it.

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