Remember the days when having a cell phone was a rarity and the iPad was not even a thing? Those days are long gone, but it’s still essential to unplug. Technology has become so commonplace that it could probably be classified as the fifth element: fire, water, air, earth…tech.
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Just because tech is as prevalent as air does not mean it’s good for us, however. There are real and lasting effects to the overconsumption of technology, and we need to be aware of what they are and how to keep ourselves and our families safe from them. Here are six reasons why it’s essential to unplug from technology regularly and some suggestions for getting started!
6 Reasons Why It’s Essential to Unplug
1. Technology Affects Your Mood and Relationships
Studies have shown that people are becoming more anti-social and suffer from feelings of jealousy and inadequacy the more time they spend on social media. In one study, researchers found that people communicate less with their parents, relatives, friends, and partners because they can simply follow them on social sites.
Nearly 60% of people have reported feeling jealous of others on social media. The study also found that people would habitually go on social media to “feel better,” and they would feel upset if they didn’t get as many “likes” as they wanted from followers.
2. Your Body Needs a Break
More than 50% of adults report having eye strain from staring at a screen most of the day. Using a computer or being on your phone can also lead to poor posture, neck pain, and back pain. And extended use of digital devices promotes a more sedentary lifestyle and reduced physical activity.
Do your body a favor and get away from the tech! Give your eyes a rest, go for a walk, do some yoga, get a massage, play with your kids. Your physical health is not worth keeping up with what your friends are saying on Facebook!
3. Your Sleep Depends on It
Using technology too close to bedtime can disrupt your ability to sleep. The blue light from cell phones, tablets, computers, and other screens disturb your body’s circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep and making you less alert the next morning. Try to cut off your screen time about an hour (or more) before you head to bed.
4. Stop Missing Life’s Moments
Life is happening all around you all the time. However, most of the time, we are too distracted by our screens to pay attention to the world around us. Instead of staring at your screen while the kids are at the playground, use that time to appreciate how happy, energetic, funny, or silly your beautiful children are. Instead of checking Instagram while waiting in the check-out line at Target, engage in a conversation with the mom standing in line behind you. Participate in real life while you have the chance. Before you know it, it will have passed you by.
5. Cell Phone Addiction is Real
People joke about being addicted to their phones, but cell phone addiction is a very real thing. It is a behavioral addiction similar to gambling, shopping, or video game addictions. In a Baylor University study, cell phone addiction was linked to impulsiveness, materialism, and a preoccupation with material objects instead of intellectual, spiritual, or cultural values.
Cell phone addiction symptoms include increased need to be on your phone, feelings of unease or anxiousness being away from your phone, and using technology to alter your mood. If you feel that this describes you, it’s important that you find ways to decrease your technology use on a daily basis.
6. Reduce Your Stress Levels
If you hadn’t noticed, tensions are at an all-time high in this country. Sometimes we can get caught up in all the bad news, rude comments, and high drama that it starts to affect our stress levels. Taking a break from the world is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s important for your mental and physical health. Step away from the phone, computer, or TV and spend that time investing in self-care.
How To Start To Unplug
1. No Tech Before Breakfast or Bed
Make a rule for yourself and your household that tech is not allowed until after breakfast. Spend the first few hours of the morning appreciating the visual and virtual quiet of the day. Drink your coffee, have a meaningful conversation with your spouse or kids, make a nutritious breakfast. Meditate, pray, do yoga. Find ways to wake up your mind and body in ways that will counteract how technology tends to dull them. Similarly, put away all screens at least an hour before you head to bed at night.
2. Set Specific Screen Times During the Day
Go a step further and designate specific blocks of the day that tech can be used. For my kids, they are allowed screentime while I am cooking dinner…and that’s it! There’s no reason you can’t set these kinds of limitations on yourself as well. Maybe allow yourself an hour mid-morning and an hour later in the afternoon. Check what you need to check, respond to a few things, and be done for the day.
3. Take An Extended Break Once a Month
Take a tech vacation by deleting social media and other time-sucking apps for several days to even a month at a time. Many people have even started giving up social media for Lent! You can always reinstall the apps and get back on the social sites, but you may find that you’ve found freedom in being unplugged and decide to extend your tech vacay!
How do you find ways to unplug?
Photo Credit :: Amy McLaughlin Photography