Digital Detox - - Archived

Sometimes, it’s smart to put away the smartphone

It’s not easy these days to get away from the presence of television, cell phones, computers, notifications, and the ever-present need to be “connected” all the time. Modern technology brings many blessings, but like anything else it has its disadvantages too. Learn to identify the times when it’s best to step away from tech for a moment—you’ll probably notice your mood improve!

1. Before you go to bed

The human circadian rhythm, which regulates when we feel awake and when we get sleepy, is tied to light. When the sun goes down and it gets dark, that triggers the body to start getting ready for sleep. But research has proven that the light from electronic devices interferes with that process. Turning off your TV and cell phone at least 30 minutes to an hour before heading to bed will do wonders to help you fall asleep faster and be more well rested.

2. While eating

The epidemic of obesity in America has many roots. However, one contributing factor is mindless eating. How many times have you sat down in front of the TV or a movie with a bowl of popcorn, only to realize later that it’s entirely gone, and you don’t really remember eating it, or even what it tasted like? Eating while browsing Instagram or Facebook on your phone has the same effect. It’s far too easy to eat more than you intended or realized, while at the same time being too distracted to enjoy or experience the food.

Putting away phones and turning off the TV during meal times is important for both physical and emotional health. Eating slowly and mindfully, and paying attention to the taste of the meal and what you are eating, helps people eat smaller portions and feel more full. More importantly, it allows you to fully enjoy the food and the company of people around you.

3. While waiting

One of the most common—and seemingly most harmless—places where people tend to get absorbed in technology is while they are waiting. Waiting in a line, or in a doctor’s office, or to pick up a kid from some activity—whatever it is, there are plenty of in-between moments in our days when nothing much is going on, and the cell phones come out.

Those times are, frankly, boring. And that’s the beauty of them. Without instant entertainment or a mobile work phone at your fingertips, the mind wanders. You daydream. You plan. You mentally process your day. You mentally prepare for upcoming events in the day or week. You think up your dream vacation or dream job.

That time isn’t a waste. The ideas, dreams, and realizations that come only when you’re bored are invaluable. Without it, the whisper of a great idea or interesting thought can’t be heard over the noise of all the technology in our lives. Next time you find yourself waiting, consider letting your mind wander instead of sending it straight to social media!

We love all of the blessings that technology has brought to modern life, and wouldn’t want to live without it. But nothing is one-sided. Taking some time during the day to deliberately put away that technology can improve your mental and physical health.

One of the biggest advantages of the Internet and especially smartphones is the depth of knowledge available 24/7. Whether it’s cooking, gardening, home DIY, knitting, or any other hobby you can imagine, how-to videos and articles are easily accessible wherever you are.

In a time when our daily lives revolve more and more around screens and technology, picking up a non-virtual hobby has great benefits for your physical health and mental well-being. The satisfaction of making something tangible with your own hands is a joy that many Americans are rediscovering–and with a little assistance from technology, you can, too!

Multiple studies have found that students who take notes by hand using pen and paper learn better than those who used laptops or tablets to take notes. Even though most people can type faster than they write, allowing them to take more notes, the physical act of writing seems to help the brain retain information. Also, because writing is slower, the student has to pay more attention, digest the information, and decide what is important enough to write down, which makes it easier for them to remember the material later.

Even if you’re not a student, give writing by hand a try the next time you’re taking notes in a meeting, or struggling through writer’s block. The little bit of extra time that it takes to write by hand means that you’re not writing faster than you think. You’ll most likely find it much easier to keep writing without getting stuck.

By Marie Pappas

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