In this day and age, we rely so much on electronics that our minds are in a constant state of stimuli. Most of us are glued to our phones, tablets and computer screens as we race through our busy schedules and endless “to-do” lists, missing out on the life and relationships that are right in front of us. It’s no wonder our brains and health are suffering from it. This constant connection to technology can impair focus, decrease energy, increase feelings of depression, promote restlessness and so much more.
I am not going to pretend this isn’t an issue I struggle with myself. This is why I wanted to write this blog post: to encourage myself and others to get into the habit of unplugging from electronics for a predetermined amount of time each day that would work best for our individual schedules and open ourselves up to be more present and connected to others.
My kids often come into the living room in the evenings and see Brandon and myself glued to our phones much of the time answering emails and responding to texts. Then we get upset with them when they want to play on their Kindles and watch TV all evening. Look what example we are setting for them! We are missing out on an opportunity to communicate with each other and enjoy quality time together that we won’t always have as the kids get older. Just typing this makes me sad . . . but the good news is that I am ready to make a change!
Are you missing out on precious time with your friends or loved ones because you are caught up in the constant need to respond to others with your devices? Well, you are not alone; most of us are! The University of Maryland did a study on students unplugging. They found study participants spent more time with friends and family, got more frequent exercise, and even ate out less often and cooked healthier foods when they reduced time using their devices. How did these awesome changes occur? Less screen time left more time for doing more productive, positive activities with their “free” time.
Here are just a FEW more health benefits that can result from shutting down the devices each day:
It may improve your relationships because unplugging allows more time for person-to-person communication and interpersonal relationships.
It can reduce stress levels. Researchers from Kansas State University have found that unplugging after work can make a big difference in quality of life, health and happiness. Researchers found that when people “unplugged” from work related tasks, such as checking work email after hours, they reported feeling fresher and better recharged when beginning work the following day. For anyone who has ever experienced burnout at work, this isn’t too surprising. We can only do so much for so long before feeling exhausted, and constantly plugging into our screens doesn’t help matters. (Another thing yours truly is “guilty” of doing!)
It can improve our mental clarity and attention span. When we aren’t bombarded with constant alerts and messages, we can focus better at a single task and in turn, help improve our attention and mental alertness. How often has a loved one asked you a question when you were immersed in something on your phone and you answered him or her without even thinking? Or not answered them at all?
There are more scientifically proven health benefits that result from shutting down your devices, but you get the picture. Now how do we apply this to our busy lives? Here are just a few tips for unplugging in your daily routine:
- Schedule it. Set an alarm that will remind you to shut down and unplug each day and be accountable to someone: a friend, spouse, or child to help remind you.
- Clean out & detach. Delete some social media applications that remind you about every little thing. Clean out your inbox and unsubscribe from useless daily emails, newsletters, clothing sales, and social media reports.
- Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to what is going on in the present moment; soak it all in. Notice beauty in detail where you hadn’t before. For instance, strike up a conversation with the checkout lady or pay a stranger a compliment. You never know what can come of these new social interactions. Life is so much more exciting and happier this way-try it and see how your world really does change for the better.
I hope this helps you create an improved quality of life for yourself and the people you love the most. Living in the now is something we all need more of and I am excited to put this into practice. Will you unplug with me?