“The freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, and anxiety” is one definition of PEACE. Why has peace become so elusive today?
As frequent readers of this blog know, I was able to take a vacation earlier this year, and unplugged from technology. Or, at least, that was the goal. I didn’t take my computer, but did have my phone. I was tempted a couple times to turn it on, and had an issue at home to take care of, but all in all…it was off. And I didn’t miss it. The only time I wanted to turn it on was when my friends where using theirs. Isn’t that the way? You go into a dentist office, and you have no need to take out your phone, but everyone else has their noses in one, so you pull yours out too.
Studies are showing that we get a dopamine reaction which can lead to addiction every time we get an email, text, or result on our devices, and it is an ongoing, and sometimes heated debate if this is also contributing to hormonal disruption, ADD, and memory issues.
Our world has changed dramatically since the development of the Internet. A study done back in 2015 by Neilson reported that Americans older than 18 spend a whopping 11 hours a day watching TV, listening to the radio, or using smartphones or other electronic devices. That shocked me! And of that time more than 2 hours each day was engaging with social media. With the damage being done to our bodies (from so much sitting) and relationships, it’s healthy to fast from technology on a regular basis. Both daily, weekly, and during extended vacations.
A media fast has many healthy benefits
- Fewer cravings: All the ads that we dodge while navigating the internet are actually affecting us. Especially the food ads. Taking a media break frees us from all of these temptations.
- Better sleep: Especially at night, the blue light exposure from our devices’ screens is similar to the bright midday sun, thus reducing the production of melatonin. Turning off all electronic devices an hour before bed allows the normal production of melatonin and a better night’s rest which is good for healing and our energy levels.
- More activity: Not sitting on the couch staring at a screen will most likely prompt us to do something else. An inactive lifestyle is a major contributor to chronic poor health. Take up a new hobby instead of spending your free time on the computer. Go outside and garden, or learn to cook, dance, play a musical instrument, or join a book club to meet people.
- Relaxation: Stress from feeling like you need to stay on top of information flowing into your feed constantly saps your attention, time and energy. We could all use a break from all the noise!
So HOW do we “unplug”? Look at your attention as an asset. We only have so much of it. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- CHOOSE information sources that will strengthen the mind. Do you really need all those news sources? And turn off Push Notifications unless using the app at the time.
- BUDGET your time. Be the information “hunter” and not the “hunted”. How did I go from reading about the storm developing near Florida this morning to an article about a motorcycle rider dodging melons that fell out of a truck?! Stay on task!
- Put your phone on AIRPLANE mode during mealtimes. Scanning the news during meals creates stress and is not good for digestion! Enjoy conversation with those dining with you or simply savor the sounds of nature and the flavors of the food with no distractions.
- Go for an ENTIRE EVENING and a mini-retreat from technology and play an old-fashioned board game with friends or family, or read that novel you have had on your to-do list.
- At the very least, find at least 15 MINUTES every day to enjoy peace and quiet. Be with your thoughts, meditate, pray, or journal.
- And this is important: TURN OFF your phone at night or at least have it on airplane mode. We do not need all of those EMFs bouncing around us at night while our bodies regenerate and detoxify.
Success is achieved with patience. As you learn to let go of technology maybe you will even be led to an entire WEEKEND RETREAT of no media. I know that is a big step, but imagine how rested and clear-headed we would all be after a refreshing media detox! I definitely felt better after my vacation, and I know it wasn’t just due to the sunshine!