Avoid draining your mental batteries – unplug from technology

We’re busy adults, and now more than ever, we are tied to our monitors and screens. Throughout our day, it is estimated that we consume over 3,000 advertisement and messages, consciously and unconsciously. This leads to stress, distraction, and sometimes mental overload.

In her book Mind Change __”, British neuroscientist Susan Greenfield says, “The digital revolution exploits our biological propensity for mindlessness…social networking and video gaming trigger dopamine in the same manner as junk food…Because cyberspace lacks causal sequence, [it] is devoid of immediate consequences and gives instant access to information without guidance, our attention spans shrink, deeper thinking declines and interpersonal bonds wither.”

What Greenfield is saying, is that when we devote our energy to technology, we begin to become desensitized to it. Time spent subscribing to the digital world is time spent outside the real one, and that means our ability and desire to connect with others on a personal level becomes diminished.

That’s not to say that technology isn’t without its uses, but just like your favorite food, even the best of things must be taken in moderation. So, you might be wondering, “How can I be expected to take a break from technology?” The task seems daunting – we have calendar alerts and newsfeeds to attend to, kid’s playdates to schedule and TV shows to watch. Here a few suggestions on how to unplug from technology during different parts of your day.

In the morning:

Engagement with technology often occurs from the moment we wake up. We reach over to our bedside table to silence our alarms, or grab the remote to turn on the morning news. Instead of starting off your day with visual stimulation, allow your mind a chance to wake up – try some light exercise that will get your body moving and your mind ready to engage. You could try a light yoga routine, a walk around the neighborhood with your pooch, or anything that gets you up and motivated. Whatever you choose to do, leave your cell phone at home. Engage with your environment and absorb what it has to offer you without the excess stimuli of added noise and screens.

In the afternoon:

If you’re having trouble unplugging during the day, try an app that restricts the functionality of your mobile or tablet devices. It reduces the temptation to use apps or get notifications, and can help you track how much screen time you’re really getting throughout the day. We’ve found that the app Freedom – Reduce Distractions  is free and simple to use for smartphones and tablets. If you’re looking to cut back on time spent on your computer or laptop, try the free application SelfControl , which helps you get your productivity back on track by restricting access to certain sites.

In the evening:

In a previous blog post, we talked about creating your own sleep sanctuary. Your bedroom should be a safe space that helps you unwind at the end of a long day. It can be tempting to scroll through your social media feeds before bed or watch a little Netflix, but doing so adds light and brain stimulation, making it hard to get those well-earned and much-needed ZZZs.

You know what seems to have fallen out of style? Reading a good book. Instead of consuming text with harsh backlights on a tablet, try picking up a paperback. Immerse yourself in someone else’s world for a bit and distance yourself from yours, severing that urge to plug back in. If reading isn’t really your thing, practice stream of consciousness journaling. Grab a few pieces of paper or a notebook and just write anything that comes to mind. Stream of consciousness writing forces you to tackle the thoughts that are bouncing around inside your skull, instead of compartmentalizing them and saving them for later. It’s a liberating and often reflective experience, and allows you to focus on your internal space, rather than your external space.

Taylor Werdel

November 16, 2017