While we admit technology is more than amazing, we also have come to realize that even more amazing is the life we may be forgetting to live.
We tend to see our computer screen more than we see the faces of those we love. We text, we email, we update statuses and browse the web, but we forget to schedule time to turn it all off and just connect and decompress. Unplugging is the act of creating space between you and your electronic devices to feel relaxed and clear-minded.
Being away from the technological world for a while may feel uncomfortable, but with intention, it doesn’t have to feel that way. As we realize the importance of unplugging, it becomes much easier and actually enjoyable.
Consider just some of the important reasons to turn it all off and breathe…
Lowered Stress Levels- Being available anytime, anywhere can take a toll on your mental equilibrium. When you stay glued to your devices, it can contribute to stress and anxiety. This is especially true if your devices keep you connected to your job after you’ve gone home for the day. This feeling of always having to be quick to respond diminishes your ability to calm down and relax at the end of the day. Putting down your cell phone, allows you to become more aware of what’s going on around you, making you better able to enjoy your non-work time with friends and family. On the contrary, continuing to communicate with colleagues after hours not only creates stress, but it prevents your brain from relaxing and recouping after a long work day. Set boundaries on work communications outside of work by making colleagues aware of your after-hours availability. Drawing a line between work and home life not only benefits you but your employer, as you’ll come back to work the next day relaxed and recharged.
Better Sleep-The blue light emitted by screens on cell phones, computers, tablets, and televisions restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep. To make sure technology isn’t harming your slumber, give yourself at least 30 minutes of gadget-free transition time before hitting the hay. Even better: Make your bedroom a technology-free zone by keeping your electronic devices outside of the bedroom.
Satisfied relationships- More digital connection does not equate to more meaningful connection. Unplugging from technology can help us remember what it means to truly connect with someone. Spending time with another human being without the possibility of being distracted by our devices has become a rarity in our modern world. Yet, when we do put our devices away, it’s easy to realize just how much this can impact the attention we are able to give and receive- and the depths of conversation we can allow to unfold without distraction. Make time for your loved ones. Create dates to do things together you really enjoy.
Reflection & Solitude- While our devices are excellent tools, they also impede our creativity Without external interruption, we are more likely to get lost in our daydreams, free ourselves from excessive self-consciousness, and experience a greater sense of relaxation and hope. Seeking solitude can help us consider our long-term goals and gain fresh perspective. In a world where outside noise is coming quicker and louder than ever, the need for solitude becomes more apparent. True solitude requires the intentional action of shutting off the noise and the screens.
Reduced Muscle Pain- “Text neck” is the term used to describe the neck pain and damage sustained from looking down at your cell phone, tablet, or other wireless devices too frequently and for too long. Unplugging is a step that can be used to mitigate these problems. While breaking from technology, take short walks and stretch the body. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible and healthy. Regularly stretching maintains range of motion within the joints, which lessons the effect of poor posture.
Increased Productivity- Being constantly interrupted by the noise of our digital devices can be catastrophic toward getting things done. It may not seem like it, but every single digital notification that captures our attention detracts from the time we spend concentrating on tasks. As much as we think we’re excellent multitaskers, science has proven the exact opposite. As texts, emails, and notifications add up and we’re coaxed by endless distractions, we lose track of the hours of time this swallows up in a day, and digress into a vicious cycle of unproductivity and stress.
Technology is wonderful thing and we can’t deny its many benefits. We use it almost every day, and it’s hard to argue against the responsible use of it.
However, it is increasingly obvious that our world is developing an unhealthy attachment to it. We need to be reminded again and again: Technology has a power-off button. And the wisest among us know when to use it.
Unplugging comes in many forms. For some, it may mean powering down for one period of time each day. This may include challenging yourself to take at least one hour a day to turn off technology and simply enjoy the moment. Another option is to take one extended break on a regular basis. Perhaps you commit to powering off one Sunday a month.
Whatever unplugging looks like for you, setting aside time to disconnect from all devices will likely do volumes for your mental health and the mental health of those around us. Are you ready to cut the cord – or have you done so already? We challenge you to unplug and remember what it’s like to turn it all off and breathe…