I sit myself down at the terrace, order my espresso, and bring out my notebook.
Love those early morning walks, where each day I stop for coffee and some clarity-creating brainstorm journalling.
Suddenly, I hear something that sounds like an airstrike alarm: aggressive, loud, cutting…
Next table over, a guy pulls out his phone and answers the call.
Ah. ‘Twas but a ringtone.
No problem of course – for me, that is.
For him however, it’s a problem and he doesn’t even know it: he doses his nervous system with an anxiety-inducing sound many times a day.
And that stuff really ain’t healthy.
Each time such a harsh sound reaches your ears, your lizard brain springs into the fight-or-flight state: high alert.
It’s what that part of the subconscious is for: notice any potential danger, and get ready to SOS. So far, so good.
What’s real bad though, is that we get used to it.
We stop noticing the panic-moment, and start to experience it as the new normal.
In other words: our ‘normal’ state becomes one of high alert, triggering a host of neurochemical and hormonal reactions.
In other words: if you constantly get notifications for things, and especially if they are aggressive sounds, you literally cause yourself to experience stress many times a day – but you don’t notice it, because it’s become ‘normal’!
So. If you experience concentration issues, loss of focus, nervousness, anxiety or stress, look at the inputs that you have set up in your day.
Change the ringtones to gentler sounds, or better: disable them altogether.
I’m pretty sure you’ll experience a big reduction in stress, within one or two days.
Look, it’s not that you have to.
But unless you’re a soldier in a warzone, there’s literally no reason to live in a perpetual high-stress state.
Not only that, it wreaks havoc on your concentration and your creative abilities.
Creativity can flourish when we’re in the right state for it, and since it’s a high-level state of consciousness to be creative, it can’t co-exist with a primal, basic, survival state.
This is why my email only comes in when I fetch it, why I deleted my Whatsapp account, and why the only thing on my phone that makes a noise, is calls and SMS messages. Zero notifications beyond that
And what that does for my tranquility, focus, and creativity is amazing.
So try it for yourself: Stop notifications from yanking your attention away. Either disable as many as you can, or at the very least: choose gentler ringtones.