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S.M.A.R.T. Habits

5 Things That Will Make You Successful at UnPlugging

We’re starting to hear a lot about unplugging.

In the Digital Age, technology has made our lives easier in so many ways.

But our new habits could also be responsible for harshing our collective vibe.

Did you know that antidepressant use in the U.S. has risen 400% since 1990?!

FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT.

Ahh…Convenience.

We don’t have to get off our couch to order dinner, pick out movies, or even go shopping. It’s truly amazing…and amazingly addicting.

In 2010, in the Unplugged Study, 1,000 students from 19 universities around the world pledged to give up all their screens for a whole day.

Guess what happened??

Many of them couldn’t even make it to the 24-hour mark.

And more than that, the students who participated reported symptoms of withdrawal associated with addiction:.

I was itching, like a crackhead, because I could not use my phone.”

Those who pushed through the uncomfortable-at-first feelings reported an array of experiences including:

  • greater calm
  • less fragmented attention
  • more meaningful conversations
  • deeper connections with friends
  • and a greater sense of mindfulness

I read about this study in this WSJ article, but you can see first-hand accounts from participants here.

After reviewing this study, I wrote down this thought:

“There’s a difference between activity that disconnects us from reality and activity that refuels us for reality.”

While I like to Netflix and Chill as much as the next exhausted-at-the-end-of-the-day momma, I also know that screen time in any form (Netflix, Facebook scrolling, or otherwise) is not something that fills my cup.

It may disconnect me from reality, but it doesn’t refuel me for reality.

And here’s the thing…

Tech isn’t going anywhere. That means it is extremely important for us to develop habits that will refuel us instead of just disconnecting us.

So that’s why I’ve compiled this list of five S.M.A.R.T. Habits that we should be doing that will help us refuel in this digital age.

S is for SHUT down

Did you know that the blue hues of your screens put the kibosh on your brain’s melatonin production?

Mmmm…Melatonin. That’s the sweet, sweet hormone responsible for making you fall asleep. And when you keep your screens on until bedtime (or in bed), you are hindering your body’s natural melatonin production…that’s why you can scroll or watch for hours without being able to drift off to dreamland.

Tonight as you head to bed, keep the melatonin fountain flowing by shutting down your screens 45 minutes before lights out.

Instead of grabbing your phone or the remote, snuggle in with an “old school” book. You know, one with real pages.

If you’re not a reader, you can try listening to an audiobook or podcast with the lights off.

Remember, the goal here is coasting into sleep as opposed to crashing into bed.

Want to know your ideal bedtime? Just count backward 8 hours from your wake-up call.

M is for MAKE your phone a bed

Since you know you will be tempted to pick it up if it’s right next to you, prepare a bed for your smartphone.

I loved this idea when I read it in Thrive.

Smartphones are addictive.

Put some space between you and that baby so it isn’t calling to you from your bedside table. You can still use it for your alarm, just give it its own space out of arm’s reach.

A is for APPS can help

Apps can actually help you put away your phone and stay focused…crazy, right?

Apps like Flora or Forest help gamify unplugging. They let you “plant” a seed that gradually grows into a tree as you work. But here’s the catch, if you pick up your phone during the timer you set, your tree dies. #sadface

By turning it into a game, even if the stakes are a fake digital tree, you will more likely stick to your plan of putting your phone away and doing something productive.

I know it works because I grew a pretty little tree while writing this article. #happyface

R is for RECONNECT with people

Today, we spend 93% of our time inside…that’s hard to believe but true. And since we are spending more time inside than any previous generation, we aren’t getting the sun on our faces or the benefits of outside socialization in our lives.

People who spend quality time with other people are happier, so get out there reconnect with folks.

T is for TIME TO MOVE

According to a study by the American Psychosomatic Society, just three 30 minute walks/jogs a day can improve recovery from MAJOR DEPRESSION.

It is being described as the “exercise effect.”

Maybe you don’t think you have time for three walks a day…but you CAN choose movement.

In this sedentary age, choosing physical movement when we can is highly important. So take the stairs, park further from the store entrance, or take a walk after dinner.

Making time to move will release amazing hormones like dopamine and serotonin that will make you feel so, so good.

You can see the original article and take the 21-Day S.M.A.R.T. Habit Challenge here.

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