Digital overload – lessons from poker on decluttering your mind
The internet set about changing the world in a seriously short space of time. In 1989, there were 500,000 users of the World Wide Web. Now, in 2019, over half of the world’s population uses it. Speeds have improved drastically every year, and the amount of information available online has swelled at an exponential rate. Now, with the touch of a few buttons, today’s generation has access to almost anything.
Adults typically spend 11 hours per day interacting with some form of media, which is most of their waking hours. This has brought about the concept of digital overload, which could be having a detrimental effect on our mental health and wellbeing. People need to be extra careful in this regard, and looking to poker players could provide some answers on how to declutter the mind, as experts in the game need to make sure they are constantly in the zone.
What is digital overload and how is it linked to everyday tech?
According to a study from researchers at the prestigious Stanford University, media multitaskers are paying the mental price. The general findings of the study suggested that those who multitasked on various platforms and gadgets had shorter attention spans, inferior memory, and were less able to switch from one job to another than people who chose to complete tasks separately. This was backed up by researchers at the University of California, who said that the constant use of electronic stimuli was causing our brains to work overtime.
The problem is, technology is going in such a direction that this kind of multitasking is becoming the norm. Nowadays, people can check work emails from their laptop screens, while at the same time listen to a podcast or music through their earphones. This could be combined with chatting on social media sporadically via smartphone next to the computer. Although having access to all this high-tech equipment is amazing, people still need to stay in touch with the real world and do things that don’t involve technology; otherwise, technology can begin to run our lives.
Facebook has over 1.7 billion daily active users, and there is a lot of information floating about on the social media platform. This is one of the main sources of digital overload, as users are being hit with various news articles, opinions, videos, and other posts simultaneously. Due to the wealth of personal data inputted and because of past searches and suchlike, some of the news and advertising is geared specifically to the user. This eliminates a lot of the choice involved with garnering information from the internet.
Digital overload has become an issue due to the wealth of different devices on the market as well. The interactivity between smartphones, wearables, laptops and other things makes using them at the same time seamless. But it may be wise to heed the advice of the Stanford researchers and try to minimize the amount of multitasking done.
What do poker masters say about decluttering your mind?
All of this digital overload can lead to our minds getting cluttered with a wealth of information. Because this can lead to inferior output when completing tasks, is it is important to try to keep as clear a mind as possible. When thinking about how to do this, one particular profession springs to mind.
Professional poker players need to keep a clear and level mental state if they want to prevail in a cash game or tournament. The players who have made it to the top in the business have mastered their minds. Players like Phil Ivey, Martin Jacobson, and Vivian Saliba are able to control their emotions, think in a level-headed manner, and make decisions under pressure. This would not be possible if their minds were cluttered with an overload of information. The concepts used by people at the top of the game can be applied elsewhere, to other professions and in one’s personal life.
According to poker experts, the cost of having too much data crammed in your head can be a serious issue. This digital overload can be the cause of mistakes, an inability to play in the zone, and even difficulty sleeping. Mental game poker is one of the most important skills to master, along with mathematical skill. Some of the main tips on improving your mental state to be able to play Texas Hold’em, stud poker, or any other variety include writing, resting, and limiting active learning.
One of the main pieces of advice involves taking notes and learning from mistakes in the game. This should be balanced with a lot of rest between games. In a typical online tournament, players are going to see a lot of different hands and card combinations. This is a lot of information to process, and playing for hours on end can lead to a cluttered mind and rash decision-making. With regards to limiting active learning, it makes sense to take in information gradually over the day rather than bombard your mind with a lot of data at once.
How to rest and improve your mental state
As noted above, rest is hugely important for decluttering the mind. There are some seriously worrying statistics related to lack of sleep. People who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to lose concentration, have relationship problems, and be depressed. Getting enough sleep is something that everyone should try to do, and it’s one of the best ways to improve mental state. There has been a lot of research to suggest that using a phone or some other technology just before bed is a bad idea. This relates to the topic of digital overload and can lead people to think or worry too much when they should be trying to get some much-needed rest. Playing on a phone before bed messes with your circadian rhythm, suppresses melatonin secretion, and makes you more alert when you want to wind down.
Reading a book before going to sleep is a better option than using technology. Luckily, new phones like the Samsung Galaxy S10 allow users to set a wind-down time for their phone. At this point, they won’t be able to access any of the apps that cause digital overloads.
There are a number of other steps to take to cut down on the amount of time spent engrossed in various media each week. Some people recommend a day dedicated to not using any technology whatsoever. Doing this can help you appreciate the real world outside of your various devices. Another option is to identify and eliminate common distractions. If you realize you spend too much time on Facebook each day, set a time limit on the app in your settings.
Digital overload is a problem of the modern age, and as more technology crops up the situation is likely to get worse. Developing strong habits to maintain good mental health now is a wise idea. Poker players are gurus in this field, and a lot can be learnt from the card experts.
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