Without a doubt, having 24/7 access to cell phones, computers, tablets and e-readers has brought us countless benefits and pleasures from widening our connections and entertainment choices to streamlining chores. But there are some unhealthy effects from being “plugged in” to technology around the clock.
For example, if you’re constantly checking messages on your phone or computer, or spending hours Googling or playing games, it can distract you from the people and activities that enrich your life. When you’re habitually checking messages, you tend to focus on–and respond to–other people’s issues rather than your own needs. And when you’re continually glancing at news feeds, it robs you of the mental restoration that comes from being absorbed in moment-to-moment experiences or just getting lost in your own thoughts. Information overload can be stressful!
Think having technology helps you multitask better and boosts your productivity? In fact, studies show that doing several tasks at once–such as walking and reading, emailing while talking on the phone, checking the TV news while typing a project—actually slows down your thinking and can make you less productive and more stressed.
There’s also the hazard of developing physical ailments, including “text neck,” a repetitive strain injury affecting the neck and shoulders as a result of hunching over a smartphone for hours on end.
These tips can help you intentionally disconnect from time to time, break your technology habit, and increase your health and well-being:
Increase face-to-face engagement. Turn off your phone during dinner or when doing activities with family and friends. Look the other person in the eye and listen intently. You’ll both get more out of the communication and you’ll become more mindful in the present moment–a key to feeling more balanced and less stressed!
Avoid starting your day with technology. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock to wake up and check in with yourself before you turn on technology. This will help you be more productive and prepared for the day.
Power off. Commit to being tech-free by turning off your devices for a specific part of your day.
Whenever possible, limit checking your personal emails to no more than once in the morning, noon, and night – or even less! If you’re over-checking your work emails, ask yourself, “Do I really need to check it now or am I checking it based on my own anxiety?”
Don’t walk and talk or text. Even on a short stroll, take time to look up at the clouds, listen to the birds, or just feel the breeze. Open your senses to what’s around you in the moment and you’re likely get to your destination feeling revitalized. Remember, connecting with nature whenever you can is an excellent way to unplug, slow down, and feel grounded and refreshed.
Switch your phone or tablet to airplane mode, which means you can still listen to music, but won’t be interrupted by calls or texts, or be tempted to log onto social media accounts.
Create tech-free zones in your bedroom. Kick your TV out of the bedroom, pick a drawer or other out-of-sight place to stash your phone or tablet, and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Give your device to a trusted friend or family member to hold onto for a few hours or a day. They will let you know if any urgent calls or texts come in during your hiatus.
Turn off and tune into the moment. Whether you’re on a boat ride, at the ballgame or a lecture, or just stuck waiting in a long line, let yourself be fully absorbed in the event. Rediscover the fascination of people-watching!
For Health Advocate Members
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and have issues with stress, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.