This blog post was typed on a computer, published on the Internet, and shared on social media. Given these circumstances, you may be wondering how I can possibly persuade anyone to unplug from technology.
The answer is simple: I’m all about unplugging every once in a while. I’m not saying that I live a completely unplugged life. I have a smart phone, laptop, and TV that I use almost daily. I am not recommending that anyone ban all technology from their life and live off the grid. For most of us this would be a totally impractical way of living.
It is possible, however, to take a break from technology each day, week, or month. And studies show that we are better for it. Here are 5 reasons why I unplug from technology:
1. Productivity & Creativity
Living in the digital age, we are seriously over stimulating ourselves. According to a study by the Telegraph in 2011, we get the equivalent of 200 newspapers of information every day. That is A LOT of information.
It’s hard to look away when our brain is getting high on the dopamine produced by constant connectivity. But we must look away. We must. Constant connectivity is causing us to behave like people with ADHD. We can’t focus on one task for long, and have trouble engaging in critical thinking and creativity.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have an attention problem, I’m just great at multitasking.” But let’s be honest, multitasking doesn’t really work.
So take some time for digital detox and let your creative juices flow. The next Hamilton could be hiding in your jumbled brain. Or at least you’ll remember how to focus on what’s important.
2. Stress Management & Recovery
Give your brain a break! Research by Kansas City University shows we need down time after a long day of work to recharge for the next day. That means no checking emails or texting with a colleague about work issues. Communicating with coworkers after business hours creates stress and prevents your brain from relaxing.
Our body is designed to handle short bursts of stress, not prolonged amounts of stress. Take a few minutes break throughout the day, set boundaries for work and home life, or go on a full-blown unplugged vacation. Do whatever works for you.
3. Internet Use Disorder and Other Psychological Problems
Yup, the Internet is now considered an addictive substance. It may seem extreme to classify excessive Internet use as a mental health disorder (and it is still up for debate), but I think most of us will admit that we have a bit of an addiction to technology. According to research conducted by Pew Research Center, 67 percent of cell owners check their phones for calls, texts or other notifications even when they don’t hear it vibrating or ringing.
Furthermore, researchers at the University of Missouri found that Facebook usage can lead to symptoms of depression if it triggers feelings of jealousy among users. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. It’s hard not to get a little green with envy after scrolling through photos of awesome vacations, beautiful weddings, and adorable babies.
So maybe it’s time to schedule in some unplugged time to avoid a full blown addiction and/or mental break down. It can’t hurt, and beats having to seek professional help for Digital Attention Disorder.
4. Social Life
Cell phones are supposed to keep us socially connected, but they may be doing the opposite. Researchers at the University of Maryland found that cell phone users are less likely to engage in “prosocial” behavior and more likely to behave selfishly.
Why? Cell phones fill our fundamental human need to feel socially connected, so we are less likely to seek out that connection in real life. Cue the scene of the family sitting at a dinner table where everyone is interacting with their phones rather than each other.
How do we remedy this? Unplug from technology during social outings. One thing I like to do when I go out to dinner with my girlfriends is to exile our phones to the middle of the table. Whoever reaches for their phone first, buys a round of drinks. It’s fun and helps ensure quality girl time.
I don’t know about you, but I cannot function without a good night’s sleep. And it turns out that staring at screens at night can seriously mess with sleepy time.
Melatonin is the hormone that sets the body’s biological clock and helps us sleep at night. Research has found that the blue light emitted by the screens in our lives may reduce our melatonin production. Low levels of melatonin means less quality sleep. Using a computer late at night is even associated with sleep disorders.
To protect my sweet slumber, I try to unplug from technology 30 minutes to an hour before hitting the hay.
Unplugging is really about living in the moment and being aware of our real world surroundings. All it takes is a few hours a day to make a difference. Or if you’re ambitious, you can try cutting the cord for your entire week-long vacation. Are you ready to unplug from technology? I know I am.
If you need some ideas for unplugged fun, check out our blog on The 24 Best Ways To Stay Cool In The Summer (they just happen to be 24 tech-free things).