Have you ever thought about taking a break from your electronic devices? Technology has become such a large part of our daily lives that it can be hard to “unplug” or “turn it off”.
Many of us have become used to the convenience of being socially connected to friends at a moment’s notice. It’s so easy to post a five second video of your dog catching a ball or share your deepest thoughts in 140 characters. But, we might not realize the effects that technology can have on us.
A digital detox is a great way to re-balance and focus on life in front of you instead of what lives behind the screen. This means turning off smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers for a certain length of time, ideally for 24-hours or longer.
Taking a Break for Your Health
The constant demands for attention from the digital world can affect your mental well-being, among other things. A Swedish study shows that young people who heavily used technology were found to struggle with mental health issues.
On the flipside, limiting your exposure to technology can prevent or reverse those effects on your mental health. A new study from Bren School of Information & Computer Science shows that eliminating the constant distractions of work email significantly reduces stress and allows you to focus better.
Check out these six ways over usage can affect your mental health.
1) Sleep. All electronic devices can mess with your sleep patterns and habits, potentially leaving you with a sleep disorder. It has also been found that late night use of your device is associated with stress and depression. Turn it off well before bed and keep all devices in a different room from where you sleep.
2) Depression. A study done by the Journal of Pediatric Psychology found that mobile phone use after bedtime may be associated with poor mental health, suicidal feelings and self-injury in both early and late youngsters. However, no matter what the age, constant cell phone usage is more likely to report depressive symptoms. Take an hour or more each day (at least!) to put your devices down.
3) Addiction. The brains of technology abusers develop a certain pattern of change over time. Studies suggest that the amount of time users check their gadgets is just enough to trigger that part of our brain that is linked to addiction. The Journal of Behavioral Addictions found that cell phone use appeared to have impulsive tendencies, at least for college-age students. It is important to pay attention to how often you feel the need to be connected to a device.
4) Stress. If you come home at the end of the day and immediately turn on technology, your brain doesn't get a chance to de-stress and unwind from your daily activities. This will keep you in stress mode around the clock if you don’t take a break.
5) The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Because of social media and the sharing of everything, our society has moved into feelings of “is everybody having fun without me?” Take the pressure off of yourself by realizing they are not all having fun without you!
6) Anxiety. Social media can lead to anxiety about everything from FOMO to the fear that life is not exciting enough since everyone else’s life looks more interesting. Surveys have found that women often have anxiety that they are not creative enough after using Pinterest. Social media also can cause anxiety of not being successful enough or smart enough because of sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Turn Your Devices off and Live in the Now
You will be happy to see how a digital detox will save you unneeded stress and anxiety, and end up giving you more time for the things that really matter.
Technology is useful for so many things, but it is important to remember, life is right in front of you, not hidden behind a device. Are you ready to cut the cord?