We live and work in an age where the flow of news, information, and communication are instantaneous and continuous. Social media allows us to engage customers and vendors as well as old schoolmates in ways that would not have been possible in the past. And with very few exceptions, thanks to the current technology, we are always plugged into the data stream—unless we choose not to be.
The practice of periodically removing ourselves from technology high-tech devices has become known as “unplugging” and it seems to have gained popularity in recent years. There is even a National Day of Unplugging that takes place in March of each year. Of course you don’t have to wait until March to reap the benefits of a device-free day or even a device-free hour or two.
Why Unplug From Technology?
Let’s define unplugging as intentionally and completely removing access to electronic media, social and otherwise, by going device-free for a predetermined period of time. These devices would include mobile phones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers, televisions, and radios.
There have been numerous scientific studies pointing to the detrimental effects of device dependency, social media addiction, etc. But do we really need a scientific study to know that too much of a good thing can be bad for us?
But more than that, there is evidence that taking a device-free day can be beneficial in and of itself.
Benefits of Unplugging From Technology
Block those ads the old-fashioned way. They come at us from every possible direction. If you so much as think about buying a particular product, relevant ads begin appearing on virtually every app and web page that allows targeted advertising. Now imagine going a full day without having to see any of them?
Reduce stress at the source. Unplugging has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and the ever-present “fear of missing out” (FOMO). So why not park your worries for a while and recharge your mental/emotional batteries while your devices quietly recharge?
Give yourself the gift of time. Have you ever found yourself wishing you could add an extra hour to your day? Well, here it is. How often have you picked up your phone to check one thing only to put it down 30 minutes or more later? By eliminating such lengthy distractions, we can free up time.
Take control. As counter intuitive as this may sound, evidence seems to show that taking a periodic break from technology tends to make us more conscientious about our use of it. Perhaps this gives us the upper hand in taking control of our communications tools instead of the reverse becoming the case.
Achieve a better quality of life. This may very well be the ultimate benefit to be gained from taking the occasional deice-free break. With less media bombardment, lower stress, more time, and better self-control, we may just find that we eat better, get outside more for some fresh air and exercise, and perhaps find time for all those other activities that seem to have fallen by the wayside. We pay better attention to ourselves and those around us and in the end, it just feels better.
How to Be Device-Free
The first thing you need to know is that you absolutely can unplug for a while if you want to. Doing so will surely be easier for some than for others. Suffice it to say that habits, good or bad, can be difficult to break.
Not everybody is up for going a full 24 hours without being connected. Some of us would be prohibited from doing so for professional/occupational reasons. But we can all do something. Here are a few considerations.
Start small. If you can’t go a whole day unplugged, how about an hour? Consider starting or ending your day with a totally unplugged “quiet hour” for yourself. Then build from there.
Use a lifeline. If your profession requires you to be “on” at all hours of the day and night, consider setting up a reciprocal forwarding arrangement with a peer to take each other’s calls, messages, etc. during your respective hours offline.
Get help. If you find that you really can’t walk away from your devices, not even for a few minutes, consider seeing a professional counselor, therapist, or coach for help. There is no shame in trying to better one’s self personally and professionally.
And so unplugging has become a thing now and the potential benefits are substantial. When was the last time you were completely free from digital/electronic/broadcast communication? This may well be worth trying.
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