13 Jun Why It’s Important to Disconnect
Let’s face it: we’re addicted to the technology around us. Taking breaks from our constantly buzzing devices can seem nearly impossible, until you have to. I often think about this when I’m traveling somewhere with shoddy wifi, or better, without electricity. Then there comes a moment when I’m listening to the birds sing, or just so immersed in an experience, that I realize how important it is to disconnect from them sometimes.
Wondering why it’s important to disconnect? Read on.
What’s the big deal? Do I really have to disconnect?
Nobody has to do anything. The world is full of choices. But, it’s good to know that there are both physical and mental benefits to turning off your device.
Circadian Rhythms and the Effects of Blue Light
For most of human history light was provided by the sun. Nights were spent in darkness. But modern human have access to TV and tech devices at any hour of the day or night. Researchers at Harvard along with many others in the scientific community are convinced that light at night is harmful to your health, specifically blue light emitted by electronics as well as cold or blue energy-efficient light bulbs. Blue (or cold) light has a particularly strange effect on our bodies’ biological clock after sundown. Sleep takes an obvious hit, but worse, it may play a role in the development of more serious health ailments like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. While the effects of blue light positively affect mood, focus, and creativity in the daytime, at night it stimulates us, keeping our brain from relaxing and detoxing.
(Want to know more? Read Harvard’s study on the topic.)
Interpersonal Skills and Relationships
We get good at something by doing it, by practicing it. Interpersonal skills are no different. When you stop taking time to actually talk to people, sending them quick texts of messages instead, you lose some of your finesse. Intuition is dampened. Quite simply, your ability to interact others gracefully dulls. Relationships can weaken as well. Seemingly not valued, people drift away.
Our tech devices cause us stress. If it isn’t lost data or a device crashing, then it’s the constant barrage of emails and social media notifications that can quite literally drive us crazy. Real-time access to any information we might want has driven us to obsessive behaviors, constant checking-in, that causes a good deal of angst in our often already stressful lives.
Distraction: Being Present
Being present is a skill we have to develop. It requires focus, observational skills and awareness. Tech devices keep us constantly stimulated, which is entertaining and fun, but also distracting. When we are regularly distracted, the mind becomes accustomed to shorter spurts of concentration and frequent interruption. That means we can’t focus for long periods of time. We’re simply not good at it because we don’t do it in our daily lives.
HOW TO DO IT
Disconnecting isn’t easy, but it is do-able. Here are some tips for making it happen in your own life.
Traveling is a great excuse to disconnect. While on vacation, there are lower expectations for being in touch. It’s a good time to take a break from your devices. Try turning it off for a few days, or turn off your cell data and only use it to take photos or notes (if that’s what you’re into). Feeling really adventuresome? Travel somewhere with no service at all. Feel yourself relax as you take time away from responding to the barrage of emails and messages.
You decide what you do with your time. Recognize that you can decide how much time you spend on your device – choosing to set boundaries and protect your time. Your time matters and it isn’t all about working. Being available all the time is unhealthy, it prevents of really letting go and enjoying yourself. It keeps you from connecting with the people you love. So, choose a time that you shut down every night, allowing the messages received after this point to go onto the following day’s docket. Make time to be with your friends, with your partner, with your family if they’re nearby and just to be with yourself.
Being outdoors has proven to reduce stress. Even the color green has shown to have some relaxing effects. Taking time to go outdoors everyday will calm and de-stress you, allowing you to reconnect to yourself in nature. Whether you take a multi-hour hike or just a walk around the neighborhood, getting out and seeing something not man-made will help you relax and live happier.
What are your experiences with tech devices and disconnecting? Share them in the comments below. We love to hear your feedback.