by Jennifer Landis
Where is your smartphone right now? Chances are it is right next to you and if it vibrates or dings, you’re going to stop reading this article and check to see who texted you or what happened on Twitter.
Maybe you recognize you’re addicted to your smartphone and all that comes with it, or maybe you don’t think it’s a bad thing to be constantly connected. Whatever the case may be, if your smartphone never leaves your side and you look at it regularly, you could use a break.
Unplugging from social media and technology is a scary thought for a lot of people, but it doesn’t have to be. It could actually be a really great experience. Here’s why.
Technology Runs Our Lives
Do you control your phone or does your phone control you? In this day and age, technology truly runs our lives:
- We are too quick to pick up and look at our phones when we get an email from work, even if it’s our day off.
- We constantly scroll though social media to stay in touch with friends. (But are status updates real staying in touch?)
- We get our news, entertainment, communication, calendars and lives from our phones.
With so much important information stored in those tiny little boxes, it definitely seems unrealistic to think about shutting them off for a day or even an hour.
Technology has made it easy for people to reach each other 24/7, for better or for worse. Your friend can call at 2 a.m. when she needs a ride home, but your boss can also call at 10 p.m. when he needs you to call into a meeting — now. You can reconnect with old friends from high school, but your biggest rival from high school is always posting her latest accomplishments, making you feel inadequate.
It’s easy to see technology has found its way into every aspect of our lives — work, friendships and relationships. Sometimes this can be a good thing. But, admit it, sometimes it’s a little overwhelming and difficult to keep up with.
Unplugging = Unwinding
The rush of notifications, texts, emails and phone calls means your brain is always on high alert, waiting for the next ding. You can never truly relax, unless your phone is off. That’s right. Not on vibrate, off.
By turning off your phone for even 20 minutes, you can give your brain, body and emotions a break from the constant engagement. You can actually focus on the book you’re reading, give your loved one your undivided attention, thoroughly enjoy the movie you’re watching and actually shut your brain off when you’re trying to sleep.
Many people have tried unplugging, whether it be for five minutes or an entire year. While some people say at first they felt anxious and unsettled, they eventually began to appreciate the time to themselves. There’s no obligation to answer your phone when you don’t hear it ring, no pressure to “like” your best friend’s most recent status when you didn’t see it.
Stepping away from these “responsibilities” gives you a chance to really be with yourself or with your friends and family. With your phone on, a part of you is always with the people posting on Snapchat and texting you. Without any time truly for yourself, you can start to feel overly stressed or depressed.
Set an Example for the Kids
With the rise of technology, even children have become less active. They’d prefer to go on the computer rather than play outside like the generations before them did. Children now spend 50 percent less time outdoors than they did in the 70s. This can lead to a generation of overweight children who sadly don’t know how to spend its time other than through technology.
By unplugging, you can set an excellent example for your kids. Doing something together, instead of each spending separate time on your devices, can help you bond as a family and bring you together in a way technology can’t.
Ditch the Jealousy
Technology, but most importantly, social media, also has a negative effect on us that can be remedied by taking a break from our phones. Do you remember:
- The last time you were scrolling through Facebook and saw a friend post a picture from their sunny vacation in the Bahamas?
- The last time someone posted about their new job?
- The last time a friend showed off an adorable picture with their significant other?
How did these posts make you feel? Maybe a little bit happy for your friend but also a little jealous, right? You aren’t a terrible person for feeling this. FOMO (fear of missing out) happens to most people.
It’s nice to share good news with friends and to celebrate in your friends’ good news, but what happens when everybody’s good news starts to make you feel bad about yourself? Maybe you’re in a fight with your significant other or your job just isn’t what you want it to be. Keeping in a constant state of kind-of-in-touch can be a real downer.
Eliminate Damaging Comparisons
Whatever may be going on in your life that isn’t so great is going to seem that much worse when everybody else is posting the highlights of their lives for you to see every single day. But it’s important to keep in mind that people only post the great things happening to them. Hardly anybody posts the negative and not-so-perfect aspects of their lives.
Unplugging from social media and technology for a period will give you a time frame where you don’t have to see all the happy news from everybody. It may seem bad to say, but sometimes you just need a break from everyone else’s good news to focus on your own. And that’s really okay.
Ditching technology and dedicating a lot less time to scrolling through your news feed will make you so much happier simply because you won’t always be comparing yourself to everybody else. That alone can do wonders for your mentality and happiness.
Do Something — Anything — Else
So you may be wondering, what will I do if I unplug from technology? No Netflix to watch, no games to play, nobody to text and nothing to scroll through? The answer is simple — you can do literally anything.
Go for a walk. Take a bath. Read a book. Get lunch with a friend. Visit your neighbor. Do a craft. Make a meal. Clean your house. Do you notice anything about these activities? They’re all things that will make you feel good. All of these activities are also ways to reconnect with yourself and with loved ones. Isn’t that a beautiful thing? You can reconnect by disconnecting from technology.
Turning off the computer, TV and phone is important for both children and adults alike. Taking the time to unplug from technology can do wonders for your mental health and your physical health. Put yourself first and do something that makes you happy, without constant interruptions.
Have you experimented with this disconnect? Tell us about your experience — how you felt going into it and then how you felt afterwards — in the comments below.