We all know we should spend less time on our phones – but we also know how addictive scrolling can be. And of course, knowing youshould do something, and actually, you know,doingit can be two very different things. So what if we told you that disconnecting was one of the keys to finding some peace in your everyday life?
In this week’s blog we give you the tools to try a tech-free timeout for yourself.
First of all, let’s talk about phones and sleep. You’ve no doubt heard about how blue light can mess with your sleep, and this is because it affects the way your body produces melatonin. Melatonin is important because it’s the hormone that helps us to fall – and stay – asleep.
And just in case you needed a little reminder: sleep is essential to both our mental and physical functionality, affecting our immunity, metabolism, concentration, moods and ability to ward off disease. It’s also vital because it’s during this time that everything from our immune system to our blood vessels and even our brains go into repair and remove waste from our system. The first four hours of sleep (10pm-2am) are focussed on physical repair while the later hours are all about emotional repair. Without enough sleep, all these vital repairs would be interrupted. And, according to Paul Chek this is a modern day affliction, because humans used to sleep 11-13 hours, whereas now we consider 7-8 as normal.
Aside from affecting your sleep, too much time on technology has been consistently linked to an increase in both anxiety and depression. On the flipside, disconnecting and finding some quiet increases focus and productivity, which helps us feel more content.
So yes, tech is convenient, but good for your health? Nope.
Ok, so now we all know why we need to unplug, but how do we disconnect? Here are some helpful tips to get you there.
How to unplug:
Disable, delete and log out: If your phone pings every couple of minutes with a new, enticing alert, try disabling them, and logging out of the accounts you love to create another barrier to using them. If the urge to use social media is still strong, consider one of the apps that blocks your access.
Dedicate a phone-free room: And put all your devices in that space. If your phone isn’t within arms length, the urge to check it won’t be as strong. The same goes at night: make the bedroom a strict no-phone zone so there’s no chance of a late-night scroll ruining your sleep.
Allocate your phone time: Allow yourself a dedicated hour of phone time a day to catch up on all the things you love. This way, not only are you not denying yourself, you’re giving yourself something to look forward to.
Plan a weekly digital detox: Start small by nominating one completely tech-free night a fortnight. That’s right – no tech. Zero. Let your family and friends know so they’ll support you, and not bombard you with messages you won’t get. Once you have a few fortnights under your belt, work up to it being once a week.
What to do in your tech-free time:
At first, it might feel like there’s a huge void in your life where your technology was, but you can actually use the time –and the quiet – to do something that will enrich your life instead.
Get mindful: Mindfulness is a form of mediation that is an easy step into a quieter life. Start with a simple, everyday routine like eating a meal. What does the food feel like inside your mouth? What exact ingredients do you taste? What memories does it conjure up? Slow the process down and chew each part of your meal consciously, enjoying the experience. All this will help ground you in the moment and slow you down.
Instigate a meditation practice: Meditation has been proven to decrease stress, depression and anxiety – it’s like exercise for your mind. Starting your day with 10 minutes of mediation will clear the mind and set the tone for the day.
Connect with nature: The more we’re on our phones, the less time we spend outside. Even if you work solo, being on your devices creates a level of “noise” in your life. Going for a walk outside (sans phone) allows you to quieten the mind, find some calm, and recharge. One study out of Japan found that forest walks (compared to urban walks) saw a significant decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone), blood pressure, heart rate and sympathetic nerve activity. All this equated to less anxiety and better moods.
Plan tech-free adventures: If you were doing Dry July you wouldn’t want to hang out at the pub all month, similarly, you need to plan adventures that don’t rely on tech to move out of the noise and into the quiet. Join the exercise class you’ve been meaning to try, take up pottery, set a reading challenge, take a bath. It won’t be long before you find the peace in the quiet.
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