Unplugging from the digital world
By Celine Wallace
Wellness Expert and Founder of Sattva Soul Retreats
We live in a digital age where we are connected continuously 24/7 via social media, email, text, and calls. You name it, we’re on it. As a result, we are becoming increasingly disconnected from the world around us. We view life through a lens and are continuously plugged into our smartphones and laptops and rarely take the time to stop and look up at what’s right in front of us.
As humans, we are hard-wired for connection, but with the rapid development of technology, we are becoming ever more connected, while slowly losing the art communication. It’s ironic as I sit here to communicate with you and write about a digital detox on my laptop because even as I write this it’s through a digital medium and it’s true that this is the world we live in these days. Everything is online, business, networking, even dating. Have you been out to dinner and seen a couple at their dinner table, neither of them talking, both on their phones and probably, posting or taking pictures of the dinner instead of enjoying the meal and talking to each other. It’s sad, but it’s the reality of the world we live in. We live in an age of technology and can use this to our advantage, or we can get sucked into the vortex and aim to portray this image of ourselves, which isn’t reality and most likely to be a highlight reel. The real question is, is this highlight reel making us happy, or are we cutting off our noses to spite our face? In this article, I want to dive into some ways to use technology to our advantage, while not getting sucked into the vortex and remaining grounded in human connection and staying present.
The catch 22 is that we need technology and technology needs us, for example, you can think of it like the food we need to eat it for survival. Technology isn’t that extreme, obviously, but we do need it to get in touch with people for work or personal life, so it’s hard to cut it out of our lives completely. So, what’s the best way to use it and not abuse it? Simple - Monitor your intake! Much like food, if you eat too much or too little, then you need to monitor how much you’re consuming and make adjustments accordingly.
You might have noticed how even Apple has introduced a new function called Screentime, it’s on some of it’s more modern model phones, designed to give you feedback on your daily screen time consumption and how long you spend looking at your phone and what different apps you spend your time on. Trust me, Apple didn’t just create this function because they’re nice. Unfortunately, social media addiction is a very real thing, and like any addiction, it usually becomes habitual and can spill over into other areas of our lives and be problematic and dangerous, like checking social media while driving. Sometimes it manifests in other behaviors like the example before, of the couple being on their phones at dinner, another form of social media addiction, but rather than checking your phone while driving, being on your phone at dinner may be more annoying rather than dangerous, but regardless, this may still be indicative of problematic addiction. So, let’s use some lifestyle tips to put boundaries in place, allowing you to unplug from the digital world so you can stay connected minus the addiction and burn out.
My 5 tips for unplugging and unwinding:
1. Set aside daily doses of non-screen time.
No screen time for the first hour after waking up or before bed will allow your brain time to slowly decompress for or from the day, allowing the neural pathways in your brain to slow down.
2. One screen at a time.
Often we’re so busy on our laptops checking emails while simultaneously talking on the phone or in whatever forms it may come. However, our brains are designed to focus on one thing at a time, so allow yourself the opportunity to give one task your undivided attention, for better productivity and better focus, ultimately allowing you the opportunity for a better outcome.
3. Remove your work email from your cellphone.
Gone are the days of clocking in at 9am and out at 5pm and leaving work behind. We usually have our work emails attached to our phone, so even though we may leave the office at 5pm the lines of when work begins and ends are now blurred, if non-existent. Start to implement some boundaries by taking work emails off your phone, so you have to set time aside for when you sit at your desk or laptop to check them.
4. Allocate specific hours for work per day.
Many of you reading this may be an entrepreneur and work for yourself, so you are always online and readily available. Start to create specific hours you work between, like 9-5pm Monday to Friday and not on weekends. That way, you allow people to know when you are contactable and when you are unavailable, so it will enable you time to separate your personal and professional life and give your brain some downtime.
5. Track how much time you’re spending online.
Use digital tracking apps like Screen Time to track how much time you spend online so you can find out what is taking up most of your time and if that’s productive or not. Only when we become aware of habits can we begin to change them.
Don’t feel like you have to do this all at once, either, take time, and slowly implement these tools, play around, see how they work for you. Ultimately, it’s not meant to add more stress to your already hectic workload and restrictions on your routine but add more productivity to your online time while helping you live a more unplugged life. Here’s to technology working for you and not the other way around!