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A popular saying in the health and wellness community is “everything in moderation”. Too much of a good thing while enjoyable can be unhealthy. In this case, I am talking about your devices. When was the last time you turned your phone off for 24 hours? When was the last time you completely disconnected from all electronics and just had some quiet time? When we are too attached to our phones and computers it can make us unbalanced. If you spend all of your time staring at a screen it can cause physical, mental and emotional changes to the body, mind, and spirit. Spending too much time in the digital world can cause us to have a skewed sense of reality.
Take social media platforms as an example. The only time when someone posts something to social media it is for attention. They want to share themselves to the world and they want the world to view them in a certain way. Guess what? They don’t have a choice on how the world views them. So you see a photo or a post and you get to judge it however you want. You get no backstory or context on the situation and you look at it and boom your mind is made up. This can cause our brains to make snap judgments about everything and everyone we meet. Living too long in a digital world we lose our ability to have patients, the ability to connect with others and we constantly feel unsatisfied with our own existence. So what’s the solution to all of this turmoil? We have to disconnect in order to reconnect.
The benefits of a digital detox:
More focus: Since you don’t have the added distraction of your phone or social media you will be able to hold your focus much longer. You won’t be distracted by lights, beeping and other noises coming from your phone.
Better connection: You will be more in tuned with the people around you. You can stare at the person you are talking to rather than ignore them when you’re looking at a screen. Who knows you might even build a stronger connection.
Become More Valuable: If you answer your phone at 2 am then you are teaching people that you are available 24/7. That can be bad for your health. You’ll have interrupted sleep, disruptions during meal time and never having time to wind down. Plus you don’t want to give the impression that you have no other life but work.
Reduce Depression and Anxiety: A constant stream of ads, information and media content can cause a lot of mental stress. If you’re constantly in need of being in the loop you can develop anxiety and fear that you’re missing out when you aren’t online. Plus constantly comparing yourself to the people you see online can lower self-esteem and confidence levels. Most of that media has been altered by someone so it isn’t a real representation of what’s really going on. By taking a step back from devices you can force yourself to stop comparing yourself and start living in the moment. This, in turn, can help make new healthier habits in the brain cutting down on stress, anxiety, and depression.
Better Sleep: Screens (tv, cellphones, tablets, etc) omit a constant stream of blue that tricks your brain into thinking that it is noon! So if you use your devices at night you are taking away from your bodies natural winding down time. Also, any light or sound that your device makes in the middle of the night can disrupt your rem sleep and cause you to have a poor night’s sleep.
When we unplug, switch off and set down all our electronics we are giving ourselves the opportunity to reconnect with ourselves.
So how does a digital detox work?
#1 Turn off all electronic devices and store them away. Don’t just put them on silent, turn them off and put them in a drawer. So you don’t have any temptation to check them. Have one day a week with no devices, even wearable ones.
#2 Set limits on phone use for yourself and for family members before bed. For a better sleep have 2 hours of technology free time before bed.
#3 Put your phone away when you’re eating. Even if you’re alone. This is a good time to practice mindful eating and take a break from checking your email and social networks. Plus you will build stronger bonds with family, friends, and partners when you are 100% focused on them and not your device.
#4 Set limits on when you’re available. Let people and colleagues know that you have a personal life and you value it. If you’re at home and working at 8 pm answering emails then that makes people think that they can always get you even when it’s inappropriate. Sooner or later they will call you at 2 am expecting that you will respond. Set limits during the day and at night when you’re not available.
#5 Find pleasure outside of electronic devices. Doing other things besides watching tv, playing video games or looking at your social profiles can make taking a break from technology easier. Spend time with friends, family or your partner without your phones. There is no need to take pictures or let the whole world know where you are everytime you go out. Pay attention to your humans and not your phone.
Take a break, talk to people enjoy the human experience, not the digital one.
Guest Post: Katherine Dainis, founder of Wellness Sidekick, holds a certification in Holistic Health Coaching, is a licensed Esthetician and Massage Therapist and is a Yoga instructor. Her mission has been to help individuals feel happier and healthier than they ever thought possible. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and visit her website.