How to Unplug and Disconnect - MP Edition 020
Hey, screen junkies, it’s digital detox time
We admit it: we’re screen junkies. As a society, we spend far too much time with our devices. The average smartphone user checks their device 150 times a day and a study shows that adults spend more than 11 hours per day with technology. Toddlers innately know how to use a mobile device before they can even speak and we increasingly rely on our hard drives to store memories for us. The deluge of information accessible to us online is so overwhelming that it often causes stress, anxiety, and burnout.
Why is it important to unplug?
Too much screen time leads to eyestrains, headaches, back and neck problems, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and poor sleep to name a new physical symptoms. Being plugged in constantly seems harmless but over time can take a toll in multiple ways including:
Multitasking has become second nature. How many times do you find yourself eating dinner, watching TV, and scrolling Instagram all at the same time? It may not seem like a big deal but straining your attention can lead to a lack of mental clarity, decreased productivity, and an exhausted body and mind. Studies show that doing more than one thing at once makes us less efficient. In other words, multitasking can contribute to burnout.
There are significant mental wellness implications as well. More often than not, what you see on social media is a curation of highlights. You rarely see not the not-so-good parts behind the scenes. Social media doesn’t often paint a holistic or realistic picture, and it leads to feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and comparison. When you scroll through your feed, and the norm is to see the achievements and success of friends, influencers, and celebrities, it can cause people to feel unaccomplished and unfulfilled. FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real, and it’s aided our obsession with technology, leading to stress and anxiety. When you log on social media and see picture after picture of restaurants you’re not at or vacations you’re not on, the FOMO increases. Researchers found that one in three people felt worse after visiting Facebook.
How do you unplug from technology?
If you think a digital detox is not necessary, remember that tech is akin to addiction. Studies of young adults who overuse technology have shown that their brain patterns are similar to those addicted to alcohol and cocaine
While we’re not recommending that you cut out technology cold turkey, it’s important to have a digital detox now and then so we’ve rounded up some tips to help you to detach from your device on the daily.
Block off technology-free time
This one seems the most obvious when it comes to detoxing digitally: spend time not using any technology. Deactivate notifications or put your phone on 'do not disturb' mode. Apple’s Screentime lets you set limits on apps to help curb excessive screen time. Start by spending one hour offline and if that seems difficult, try 15 minutes then increase it.
Download an app
Yes, we know how ironic it sounds, to use technology to keep you away from technology but as with everything these days, there’s an app for that. You can block certain apps for periods of time so even if you’re tempted to, you can’t scroll through Instagram.
Unglue from your phone
Your phone is a stage 5 clinger and you need some space. Put your phone in another room or keep it in your bag. The point is that the farther away your phone is from you, the less tempted you’ll be to check it.
We often end up on social media out of sheer boredom. To combat that, try new activities to keep you busy and off your mobile device. Go to that spin class, have drinks with friends, take a hike, take a cooking class, go to the spa - whatever helps break you the “tech haze”.
Create boundaries at work
Studies have shown that an "always-on" mentality hurts productivity and leads to burn out. Stress can be brought on by the pressure of having to answer immediately or multi-task. The good news is that there’s a shift happening that promotes better work-life balance. You no longer need to be always available to succeed at work. Try not to take work home with you, work will always be there the next morning. Don’t check or respond to emails outside of working hours. Set expectations with co-workers about realistic response times. Take advantage of your lunchtime to get away from the screen by eating with coworkers and go for a quick walk. It’ll provide a much-needed recharge to get you through the rest of the day.
Listen, no one wants to have dinner or a meeting with someone who is on their phone 24/7. Social media and being online has the wonderful gift of bringing us closer to people we’re not physically near, but the downside is that it can take you away from those who are right beside you. Be courteous and respectful of the people you’re with and put the phone away for meetings and meals.
Have a tech-free wake-up & bedtime routine
Instead of reaching for your phone as soon as you wake up, try meditating, exercising, or making breakfast. And instead of the screen being the last thing you see before you drift off to sleep, try to journalling, reading, or listening to music. The blue light from screens can mess with your sleeping patterns. Aim to be device-free around two hours before you actually go to sleep to give you enough time to wind down.
Designate a tech-free zone
Sometimes it’s a matter of establishing physical boundaries. Choose a place to designate a tech-free zone, and don’t bring any sort of screen into that area, whether that’s TV, iPad, or cell phone. The space will become a tech-free haven with no digital distractions allowed.
Enlist your friends and family to help hold you accountable in your digital detox journey. They can call you out if you start crafting an email at the dinner table.
At the root of a digital detox, there’s a mindset change that needs to happen. You don’t have to race to answer messages or always be checking social media. A digital detox - both big or small - will enable you to be more present in your life which will help strengthen your relationships, boost creativity, increase productivity, and reduce anxiety. Remember: the world will not end if you don’t respond to an email or check Instagram right this moment.