Thanks to technology, we can access anything we want – but also we live with a constant stream of information and noise, which can prove unhealthy.
The result of this digital connection to technology is that we become disconnected from our physical life.
The average person spends 2 hours and 33 minutes on social media alone, every day – and according to Digital Detox, checks their phone around 150 times per day. Though, due to also using our phones for emails, texts, accessing other apps including those streaming films, the time on devices can double, triple or even quadraple, as I’m discovering with some clients!
This might sound absurd …but think about it. How often do you check your phone, and then lose track of time?
Add that to time working on your laptop and watching television, and your overall screen time will be much higher than you think.
The impact of technology use
Always being accessible and connected to technology is not good for you. Here are a few of the side effects:
🔅Increased levels of stress and anxiety – you become worse at relaxing because you are always engaged with something.
🔅Decreased focus and productivity – as you are constantly switching between tabs and apps, you are more easily distracted with a shorter attention span.
🔅Decreased self-esteem – you begin comparing yourself to others and getting trapped in a ‘Fear of missing out’ (FOMO) cycle.
Healthline says there are physical side effects too, including:
🔅Increased neck, shoulder, and lower back pain, due to poor posture when looking at your devices.
🔅Digital eye strain from staring at screens.
🔅Decreased sleep quality – The blue light from screens wreaks havoc on your circadian rhythm, putting your brain in a state of alertness when trying to wind down and fall asleep.
To find balance, you should make a conscious effort to disconnect from the noise of technology to reconnect with yourself, the people you care about, the world around you, and the things that matter most.
Here are a few tips to help you do it.
How to disconnect to reconnect
Be intentional with your technology use
A full digital detox for a few days sounds great, but for many people, it isn’t practical. But there are small but impactful habits you can start building into your day immediately.
–Charge your phone outside of your bedroom – when your phone is beside you, it’s easy to make checking notifications the first and last thing you do each day. Charge your phone in another room, and either use a different alarm or be forced to get out of bed to turn it off!
–Create a morning routine – make the first thing you do each day about connecting with the world around you, rather than checking your phone. It could be as simple as taking a walk around the block, making a cup of coffee, and reviewing your plan for the day ahead. Once you have done these things, you can check your phone.
–Set an evening technology limit – simultaneously, think about the best ways to end your day. Stop using your devices at least an hour before bed, then choose another activity to unwind, such as reading a book or meditating.
–No phones at the dinner table – by removing technology from mealtimes, you can reconnect with your loved ones and have meaningful conversations.
What else can you do?
Spend time with you, and you alone!
Take the time to find some quiet time where you can just switch off from the busyness, calm the mind and thoughts, and reconnect. For some, this can feel uncomfortable, especially the quiet and not having other people or distractions, but by embracing and regularly practicing this, you will soon begin to reap the benefits.
Finding some space helps us to gain better understanding to situations, to see new perspectives, become aware of behaviour, as well as how to better manage life in general.
Embrace the great outdoors
Taking time outside every day is one of the best ways to reconnect with the present. Now, given our recent weather, this isn’t always attractive or doable, but where possible, head out most days for some fresh air, even if it’s having a seat on a bench.
Time spent in nature can rewire the brain and make you happier.
A 2015 study at Standford University found that those who spent up to 90 minutes walking in a natural area (think surrounded by trees rather than a densely populated city), had decreased activity in an area of the brain that is directly associated with a key factor in depression.
Get to your local park, walk up your nearest hill, or stroll along the beach. Even the most densely populated urban areas will have lovely green spaces to explore.
When out walking, disconnect from your phone, if you need it with you have it on silent and don’t pick up to read messages.
I certainly find that time in nature recharges my energy, helps me work through thoughts, and gives me greater inner peace. I can work through my emotions far more easily and plot a way forward in, even during the most challenging of situations.
Reflect and practice gratitude
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when life is busy, challenging or maybe when you compare your life to others, therefore, you learn to intentionally focus on the good that is in your life. This does not mean sweeping what’s going on aside, but it’s about rebalancing, and reminding yourself of the positive that co-exists even during the harder times.
Take a few moments each day to reflect and / or write down a list of things you are grateful for. These can be big or small – a kind gesture, a delicious meal, or something that made you laugh.
Regardless of what you write down or reflect on, getting into this habit will help you to disconnect from the things that don’t matter, and reconnect with the things that do.
Step away from the thoughts of what you cannot control
Finally, another suggestion is to become aware of the environment around you, what takes up head space and learn to disconnect from what you cannot control or influence. Focusing on things you cannot change takes energy, and can add to worries and racing thoughts and emotions. Instead, use your energy wisely, and connect in areas that is deserving of your efforts.
I hope that this blog has helped you see how you can disconnect to reconnect, and I encourage you to try doing this regularly so you can reap the benefits to health, wellbeing and happiness.