We’re going to let you in on a little secret: If you put your phone down right now and walk away from it for even a few hours YOU WILL SURVIVE. That’s right. We promise you’ll make it through to the other side without a single Instagram post, Facebook like, email, text, tweet or snapchat. While the addiction is real, we’ve got a few ways to help you unplug from technology – and plug back into life. Be brave!
Here’s some food for thought: recent studies show adults spend roughly 3 hours a day on their mobile devices. That’s about 86 hours per month! Young adults spend even more time, at just under 5 hours per day. With so many social media channels, apps, blogs, news outlets and music sources out there, the entire world is available on demand 24/7, and it’s easy to get sucked in.
But did you know that while you’re feeding your insatiable appetite for all things instant, you’re taking away some of the things that are vital to your health and well-being, like human interaction? This article from Medical News Today gives us a glimpse at the toll technology is taking on our mental and physical health – from unhappiness due to constant comparisons to “the perfect life” to isolation and loneliness from so many hours spent online to depression, fatigue, obesity and elevated stress levels. As Psychologist David Mensink says in this CTV News interview, Canadians are spending less and less time devoted to cultivating deeper real-life relationships. “It’s who we are… We’re meant to interact with others. We’re meant to help each other. It’s just the way we’re made” he said.
The good news is, it’s not all bad news. Re-connecting with friends, unexpected messages and positive affirmations can go a long way to making us feel pretty darn good. But trust us, signing off completely will make you feel even better. Here’s how:
• Remove distractions – that means no alerts, beeps, buzzes or notifications. Turn it off.
• Don’t glamorize busyness – why are we so proud of being busy? Because busyness is happiness avoidance.
• Ask yourself “why” when you pull out your phone – do you really need to check Instagram when you’re out for dinner?
• Try the rule of thirds – 8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours free.
• “Fast” from electronics – spend an entire week – once in the spring and once in the fall – with no electronic devices. The positive effects are incredible.
Take time for yourself. Spend time with your friends and loved ones (offline). It’s easy to be alone or with others and by habit pull your phone out to check messages and notifications. Instead, think about all the productive things you could get done without the time wasted on your phone. Organize your home, plan a fun night at home for you and a friend, redecorate your bedroom, get ready for tax season, go for a walk – the options are endless.
Ted Talks are a fantastic resource for oh-so-many reasons, and these ones will inspire you to truly unplug. From learning to be “still” to why our screens make us less happy, you’ll hear from experts who put things into perspective – like Abha Dawesar, who was living in blacked-out Manhattan post Hurricane Sandy, desperate to find power to charge her phone. That is, until she realized what she was really missing out on was the reality around her.
Another great source of inspiration is Log Off: How to Stay Connected after Disconnecting. Through his rigorous research, author Blake Snow tested and developed connectivity strategies for finding offline balance in an online world. Worth a read!
It may be scary at first, but the truth is you’ll quickly see how unimportant 99% of the stuff you were obsessed with really is. And it may even change the way you use social media and technology when you come back to it. It’s time to plug back into life. You can do it!