I know. I know. I love laying in bed scrolling social media too, my friend. But lately I’ve been working to incorporate my mindfulness practice into more of my daily life. It takes work, I’m not gonna lie: a near constant coming back to pay attention to what I’m doing and ask “Does this matter? Does it add meaning? Does it help me to enjoy life or love with greater ease and connection?” You’d be surprised how many times the real answer is “nope” and I learn to set that activity aside and do something that ticks the boxes above.
Technology is one of those things. I keep ending up there, somehow, but I’m not getting the meaningful connection I aimed for in the experience. In fact, I’m feeling more rushed, impatient and anxious. And I’m not alone; science is giving us increasing evidence of this disconnect.
Here’s the thing: taking a holiday from your technology doesn’t have to be about missing out on something, it can actually mean that you are more fully present to connect with the things that are really meaningful to you. You may not be sure you can do it forever, but TRY it for a few days and simply notice.
Technology Get-away Guidelines:
1. Have a family discussion about your plans ahead of time, so that everyone is on board. Discuss the pros and cons of technology, and why we might want to take occasional breaks. While everyone loves their tech stuff, for good reason, we should also be able to honestly discuss the drawbacks. Big ones for families can be short attention spans, irritability, constant distractions, tantrums when it’s time to stop, advertising and inhibiting sleep.
2. Schedule it. Put it on the calendar: 4-6 days that your family can dedicate to finding some distance from electronics. Identify what times of your day will be “screen free”, or plan it for a time when you are camping, or at the cabin on the lake. Prepare by borrowing plenty of books from the library and dusting off your board games, instruments or knitting projects. You might want to find a kid-friendly recipe or two as well.
Ask family members to ponder what inspires, motivates, and interests them. If screens were not an option, what would your body, mind or heart enjoy exploring? The answers can be conversation starters themselves.
3. Go old school. After the days work (which likely requires the use of tech) is done, put your devices on their chargers and “get curious” about something together. It will be easier if you hide or disguise the larger monitors or TV’s for your agreed upon time. Go for a walk, or play outdoors. Stay inside and give kids choices: clay, cardboard, activity books, play games, or pack lunches and prepare for tomorrow. Once kids are in bed, don’t zone out on your usual screen related down-time activities; read a real book or magazine, have a conversation, bake something, create something and…
4. Go to bed early. The key is to listen to your body’s tired signs. Technology stimulates brain activity while preventing the production of melatonin. So, as you enjoy your non-tech activity you may feel yourself relaxing much sooner than usual. Allow yourself to sleep early and pay off some of the sleep debt you’ve likely accumulated.
5. Notice. During your short get-away from technology, simply observe what happens in your body and your mind. Often when we put down the screens and engage the world differently we create deeper connections with inspiring skills and abilities. Engaging in real time also encourages deeper personal connections and a sense of gratitude between family members.
When it’s all said and done, allow your observations to inform how you dive back in to your electronics use. As you consciously distanced yourself from the persuasive pull of the screens surrounding you, what benefits did you feel in your mind and your body? Moving forward, how can you incorporate your devices into your day-to-day mindfully and with intention?