Feeling out of sync lately? Chances are, it’s not the pending updates on your smartphone. Our ever-increasing dependence on tech can have a detrimental effect on your mood, sleep schedule, social life, and even your brain chemistry. Cutting the cord and ditching your dependence on technology can feel like a daunting task, but these strategies can help you find your balancing point.
This Is Your Brain on Technology
How often do you use your smartphone each day? Your actual usage might be much higher than you expect. It’s hard to judge, since checking email, text messages, and social media accounts has become a totally automatic part of most people’s routines.
Between 2011 and 2016, smartphone ownership jumped from 35% to 77%, according to the Pew Research Center. This flood of technology’s effects on the human brain are still being researched, but many people already report experiencing feelings of fatigue and lack of focus. In a poll conducted by the New York Times, many more adults describe their electronic devices as a source of stress.
How to Break Up with Your Smartphone
Going on a digital detox can be difficult, especially when all of our daily routines center around technology. Still, a digital detox is the best strategy for escaping technology overload and finding your work/life balance again. Use these strategies to tame your digital demons.
If your life revolves around technology, it can be hard to cut yourself off cold turkey. Give yourself small and manageable goals for reduced technology use, and stick with the new routine for a week or two before increasing your time spent disconnected. Elise Hu of NPR recommends baby steps, like placing phones in the center of the table when you’re out to dinner with friends.
Define Your Boundaries
Setting boundaries for yourself can also help you wean off technology. Set aside specific hours of the day for technology usage, whether it’s answering work emails or just checking your social media accounts. A technology fast during dinner time, board game night, or a certain hour in the evening can help reinstate good old-fashioned conversation. And if you have something you really love, like watching sports, you don’t have to cut out everything right away—replace your cable subscription with a focused streaming service to help you cut down on useless channel surfing.
Give Your Friends Time to Adjust
Setting up new routines takes time. Be patient with your friends and family as they adjust to your changing response habits on social media. It might take about a month, but eventually, the people you’re connected to will learn not to expect an instant response. Who knows, your technology hiatus might start to trend in your social media circles.
Become a Tech Luddite
When it comes to technology detoxing, ditching your smartphone is akin to achieving nirvana. Taking the ultimate leap and ditching your smartphone entirely can feel impossible, but it may help you achieve the balance you’re seeking. Ditching your smartphone automatically restricts your time spent on email and social media to times when you’re sitting at a computer, which can free your commute or your evenings for rest, relaxation, and personal pursuits.
Rediscover Tech Alternatives
Even your technology can help you disconnect. Websites like Calm.com and A Soft Murmur can help you create a tech-free oasis in your living room. With guided meditations, bedtime stories, and calming rainy-day recordings, these websites help create a more positive, relaxed, and stress-free relationship with your beloved devices.
The Benefits of Disconnection
Downtime may be more important than you’d expect. Research conducted by scientists at the University of California found disconnected downtime to be an essential component of our brain’s natural learning process. In the study, rats that were given a maze to explore formed better memories if they were given a break afterwards. Disconnecting, as these scientists predict, may be the key to a more mindful and focused life.
Disconnecting is also catching on in the tech industry. Tech founders and social media gurus like Max Soni of DotComSEO are disconnecting from social media, in an age where there’s more pressure than ever to always be connected. Soni told FastCompany that he credits the decision with an improved sense of well-being and the time he needs to work more effectively.
Building tech-free time into your schedule is a great step in the pursuit of productivity, health, and well-being. Your brain needs time without technology to achieve an ideal natural balance. Tech-free habits can take a while to sink in, so be patient on your journey to technology independence. Before you know it, you’ll have extra time each day for the more important things in life.
How do you disconnect from your technology? Leave a comment with your own detox tips!