Disconnect to connect. Unplug. Digital detox. You may have heard these terms a lot lately in reference to stepping away from your adored electronics and reconnecting to the world around you. Even unlikely players like communications companies and app developers are getting on board
Digital Detox: A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world. – Oxford English Dictionary
Although completely cutting yourself off from the outside world may not be plausible, doing a digital detox every now and then can have some great benefits on your wellbeing.
If your eyes are glued to the screen, you are most likely sitting or lying down. A growing obesity problem is partly due to a lifestyle tied to the couch staring at a screen (a far cry from that of Paleolithic man!!!!). Constant sitting and lack of movement is not only detrimental to your lower back and neck, it is can definitely negatively impact your waistline too! Unplug, go outside and get the blood moving. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel
A Calmer, More Content You.
Whenever a group of people have taken a break from technology they are almost always surprised to find themselves less stressed because of it. When you find yourself on your phone or absorbed in your emails, you fail to live in the present. It’s only when you open your eyes to the here and now that you realise how easy it is to miss out on the good things around you.
Most people are scrolling through their media channels or checking out their friend’s latest pictures, rather than responding to messages or connecting with others. Taking a break from technology will show just how much time you waste on it!
The longer you keep yourself in your online world, the more your social connections in real life can take a back seat. We all know that person who doesn’t get off their phone at dinner. Don’t be that person!
Research has shown that when you look at a screen before bedtime, your brain is tricked into thinking it must remain alert and awake, preventing melatonin, your sleep hormone, from being released. Using your phone or staying on your digital device phone immediately before going to bed will have an impact on both the quality and quantity of sleep you need.
The key to staying sane in this hyperconnected world is adopting healthy and sustainable habits around the way you choose to use your technology, keeping you in control of it (rather than the other way around).
That being said, giving up all your screen time is simply not practical. There are, however, a few guidelines you can implement to create a little distance between you and your device:
Create Tech-Free Hours.
Like many, you may feel lost or naked when you are without your devices, but, taking breaks from technology can do wonders for your well-being. Begin by designating a certain time each day that is technology-free. You can then determine how you feel after a week or so. Most people feel happy with the change, and go on to expand it.
Start by putting your phone down for 15 minutes without looking at it one day. The next day, break away from technology for 30 minutes, and so on. Or designate one day a week to stay away from one social media platform completely-say, Facebook-free Fridays.
If and when you feel ready to take a full-day plunge, a weekend day is a good choice since work pressures tend to let up. Sundays are probably your best bet, as it's typically intended for rest and relaxation. Place your phone in a drawer and spend the day connecting interpersonally-not electronically-with family and friends.
No Phones During Meals.
It is so a common to see phones scattered on the tables along with the food at restaurants. Research shows that, simply having the phone on the table during a conversation (whether you are checking it or not) can reduce the quality of the interaction. Your brain is waiting, expectantly, for it to light up, and as a result, you are not fully present. The more energy you direct toward your device, the less energy you are directing toward whoever is in the room with you. Put the phone away, connect!
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Schedule Some Quality Time
One of the best things about taking a digital detox is that it gets you away from the screen, and in front of your friends and family. Schedule at least one meal with loved ones and let everyone know that it will be an unplugged meal. Or, possibly, invite everyone over and pull out your board games from the back of the cupboard and get ready for some fun.
Technology Free Bedrooms
Most people use their phone for an alarm clock and, you pay find that when you reach for your phone to switch it off, it is easy to start scrolling through your Instagram feed. It is best if you can invest in an old school alarm clock and leave your phone outside the bedroom at night. Screens’ blue light tricks your brains into thinking it’s daytime, making sleep more challenging. Furthermore, if your phone is a constant distraction while you are in bed, it is less likely you are connecting with your partner. Make your bed a device-free zone and invite greater opportunities for intimacy.
Remove Push Notifications.
Getting constant updates can definitely be informative, but it can also be distracting. Allowing yourself to get interrupted constantly, stops you from being focused. One easy fix is to turn off as many notifications as you can live without.
Go Black And White.
One reason your devices are so alluring is their vibrancy. Many smartphones now allow you to change the settings so the entire phone appears in gray scale. This in turn makes it less appealing.
Clean Up Your Social Media.
Facebook and Instagram help you connect with people in unprecedented and truly gratifying ways. However, studies reveal that the more time you spend on social media, the worse you feel. This is far from surprising when you consider that what you are seeing is only a heavily curated version of friends’ and celebrities’ lives, which can be toxic for self-esteem.
In order to stay on social media and continue to feel good, it is important to consider what and who makes you feel less-than-optimal. From there, begin to clean things up. Don’t be afraid to block, mute, unfollow, or delete, until you’ve created a list of connections who make you laugh and smile and fill you with happiness.
There’s An App For That
For many, feeling addicted to a phone is real, and for good reason. Checking your devices activates the reward circuitry in the brain, triggering the body to release dopamine (your pleasure and reward hormone).
It may feel counterintuitive, but some apps can actually help you cut back your reliance on your device.
- Moment app (for iOS) can track how often you use your iPhone and iPad each day and also lets you set daily limits
- Freedom applets you block whatever sites distract you on your mobile device or computer, with the goal of helping you focus.
- Off-Time(available on Android) allows you to selectively block calls, texts, and notifications (an iPhone’s “Do Not Disturb” setting offers a similar service).
Read On Paper
You might have noticed that reading a book feels more satisfying than reading a tablet. This is not a figment of your imagination. Not only do books offer fewer distractions, but research suggests that when you read on paper, your brain processes abstract information more effectively. Additionally, consider getting your news from a newspaper.
There is no doubt that modern technology is incredible and the benefits are huge in so many aspects of everyday life. However, being able to unplug and have some time away from the screen will leave you re-energised and more in touch with the world around you.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” ~ Anne Lamott