5 Reasons to Unplug Once in Awhile
During the last couple of decades, digital technology has become a major part of our everyday lives. The internet keeps us perpetually connected, and smartphones allow us to take our entire digital world with us everywhere.
But when it comes to this technology, there can be too much of a good thing. As we've spent more and more time online with our devices, some serious downsides have emerged. Unplugging from the digital world periodically can improve your overall well-being for reasons including these:
#1 Less stress
Digital technology can introduce unnecessary stress into our lives. Many people use personal smartphones for work, which makes it easy for work to creep into personal time. A work-related email can pop into your life with a "BING" at any moment, regardless of what time it is or what you're doing. But even personal communications like emails from family and text messages from friends can interrupt what you're doing and cause stress.
When you unplug, you remove a source of stress from your life and create boundaries around your personal and leisure time.
#2 Better mental health
Having nonstop access to social media might not seem like a bad thing, but it can be. Social media can increase negative feelings of jealousy, FOMO (fear of missing out), envy, and loneliness. This can leave you feeling hollow and alone, despite being connected to everyone you know.
Unplugging breaks you out of this negative emotion cycle. It may be difficult to step away from social media at first, but it gets easier quickly when you can't instantly access the technology. Soon you'll start to realize that you aren't actually missing anything important.
#3 Give your brain a break
There's a lot of noise in the online world. Everybody and everything wants you to listen, look, and engage constantly. This can become mentally exhausting.
Taking a break from technology gives your brain a chance to breathe. It allows you to hear your own thoughts again and lets you focus more on things that bring you joy. It's easier to enjoy the little things like conversations with family, reading a good book, playing a sport, or being in nature when you're unplugged.
#4 Get more exercise
Technology has made it very easy to come up with excuses to avoid exercise. Things like binge-watching your favorite show or working late into the night at home can prevent you from getting the exercise you need.
Shutting down technology removes this excuse and frees up the time that you once dedicated to being online. It gets easier to go to the gym or take a walk when you free up that time and mental space.
#5 Enhance your relationships
As much as technology connects you to the world, it also creates barriers that hinder in-person relationships. When you're constantly checking in on other people through social media, you are not focused on those people who are physically present in your life.
When you put the phone and technology away, you remove that barrier to in-person relationships. You can better focus on what's being said and respond in a more meaningful way when you're not distracted by notifications or the pull of instant entertainment from your phone. As a result, you can create more powerful experiences with your friends and loved ones.
How to Do a Digital Detox
At first you may feel like you don't need to take regular breaks from the digital world — but try it once and you might realize how much time you've been wasting online. You might even find you experience life more fully when you're unplugged.
When you decide to do a digital detox, or simply cut back on technology, these tips will increase your success and help you thrive offline:
- Set digital quiet times. Set aside some time each day to shut down your technology. Start with something easy, like putting your phone in another room during dinner or turning off Wi-Fi an hour before bedtime.
- Get an app for that. Believe it or not, there are apps to help you use technology less. Most new phones even have digital well-being monitors built in to track your usage and reveal the truth about how and when you're using your device.
- Read a book. Reading engages your brain and can distract you from wanting to check your phone or computer.
- Get outside. Go for a walk, jump in the canoe, or just go for a drive. Doing something outside of the house removes the temptation to check in online.
FAST FACT: FOMO stands for Fear of Missing Out. It's fueled by the worry that we are missing something exciting.