Recreational effects of taking one hour to clear your mind

Anzhelika Tolstikhina, a n z h e l i k a . t o l s t i k h i n a @, is a sophomore nursing major.

A generation of high-speed information flow.

Any piece of news today lives for about three hours. No matter what kind of information flies through the window -a big, world wide piece or a small family one-its existence has considerably reduced in its term. Squeezed to the size of a dot.

Even five years ago a good piece of news walked all over the Internet for weeks. People could talk about the same topic for days, scanning it through different angles, dissecting the issue into pieces, squezing out new facts, discussing and arguing until burnt out.

Now, even the sources that provoke the emotions to the highest degree die within a few hours, or the sharpest news that raises a lump in the throat dissapears within a day. This issue applies not only to the events covered by the media news, but also domestic situations.

This issue reflects in almost every aspect of our lifes whether it comes down to understanding the topic in class or taking time to research about a proper exercise technique. Perhaps the biggest promotion that Washburn University continuously tries to ingrain in students is the development of critical thinking skills. But many of us are still caught up in high school mentality when the goal is to sit through the day without getting in trouble or getting bad grades. Unfortunately, when professors repeatedly explain the importance of taking time to question every bit of incoming information and the intention for every action, many students let the advice run past their ears as long as they won’t get tested on a particular topic. As a result, we blindly believe the tittle-tattles and the mass media news, even though it is not a surprise that in both cases the information is greatly amplified to make a profit through destabilizing public emotions. Because students do not want to exhaust themselves by going to tutors or communicating with teachers, they often settle with grades that do not reflect their potential, but definitely reflect the lack of effort.

What happened to us? Was it that we became callous or superficial? Or both?

How come we cry for a little bit at the sight of body parts scattered across the field of wreckage, but never grieve for a long time afterward? Why even 10 years ago was it theat murder could plunge the whole country into mourning for the entire week and now death is a fact which we carry on without much thought upon hearing about? Even when it comes down to domestic news, it’s the same. Is there something wrong with us?

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with us. But being around too many events, there is too much information required for each individual to stay on top of. The endless stream of news does not let people hang on to a particular piece for a long time, let alone that in 21st century an average American student is expected to take at least four classes per semester, excel in all of them, work, be involved in extra-curricular activities, deal with roommates, and wash dishes. We simply do not have time to reflect on anything, do not have time to think, understand, and perhaps, to forgive.

Everything is very, very fast. Events follow each other with incredible speed, and we- people of the Information Age – are required to be about each of them. Our brains just do not have time to process everything and in the end, people begin to percieve reality as not meaningful, but fragmentary. A hundred years ago, postcards traveled across the state for a week, and now it takes a second. Most people died without ever seeing a murdered body because they did not own TVs and the Internet did not exist either. In contrast, now days, we are used to seeing crushed skulls and riddled bellies. We have seen all of that, and even more.

Certainly, anyone can chop off an Internet wire, throw the TV away and become an ousider of modern society. But most of us are not willing to carry such a burden and in my opinion, a pointless one too.

One of the logical solutions is to take at least an hour to exercise every day, whether it is a walk outside, swimming or weightlifting. The choice depends on one’s preference. Long line of e-mails or the pressure coming from all the expectations that society puts on us can hit like a rockfall creating a feeling of helplessness. Although the strongest of people have managed to survive under such conditions, it is very important to understand that humans are not robots and our systems eventually shut down. Escaping for a little bit, changing locations and clearing out the thoughts play a role in recharging an individual with new energy. For people who do not associate the trip to the gym or workout in general with anything but a painful kind of event, not even speaking about pleasure, simply can choose the activity that sounds enjoyable. In this situation the goal is not to add more responsibilities on our shoulders but create a recreational time. It is important to understand that the activity should be recharging rather than exchausting.

In the end, how increadible is it to realize what a big difference a simple one hour walk or a yoga session can make in terms of interrupting the speed that the Information Age has created for our generation, if you think about it? Just one hour can drop your stress levels while increasing the ability to cope with a demending lifestyle of the 21st century.