When was the last day you went without your computer, tablet or smartphone? How about a half day? How about an hour (not including sleeping)? The reality is that technology has made itself a necessity in all parts of our lives. Smartphone wake us up, give us our schedules, deliver our emails and store important information. Computers help us work, as well as play, without ever having to leave home. Unfortunately, there is a price to be paid for the opportunities and convenience that technology provides including poor health. Here are a few benefits you can reap by taking time away from technology.
1) Improve relationships. How many times have you been talking to someone in person and they break from the conversation to respond to a beep on their phone? How often do you engage in this same behavior. For some reason, people feel compelled to look at each notification at the time it’s received, even if it means being rude to the person you’re with (or worse yet, while driving). The text, email or Facebook post isn’t going anywhere, but your friend, colleague or spouse might. When you’re talking with people in person, fight the urge to check your smartphone. Instead, focus all your attention on the person you’re with.
2) Lose weight. Research shows a sedentary lifestyle, such as those associated with working on a computer or spending a lot of time gaming, leads to weight gain and associated health complications, such as diabetes. Instead of checking email on your lunch break, leave your computer and cell phone and instead go for a walk. Don’t spend your evenings gaming or watching television. Instead find activities you can do with your family (which will lead to improved relationships #1), such as going for walk, playing board games or other fun activities.
3) Improve sleep. Similarly to sitting too much, not getting enough sleep leads to health problems, including weight gain and depression. Screen time has been identified as a culprit in poor sleep. So turn off the computer, tablet, ereader and television at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Doing so gives your brain time to turn off and should lead to falling asleep faster and a better night’s sleep.
4) Reduce stress. There are several ways staying connected to technology increases stress. One is that you’re on 24/7 and feel like you’re missing something if you don’t check in every few minutes. The other is that the content viewed online is often upsetting whether it’s from the news or someone posting something controversial on your Facebook feed. The reality is that you’re not a 24/7 necessity. Whether you check in or not, life will go on. The work will still be there. The bad news will still be there. The numnut posting on Facebook will still be there. But you don’t have to be.
5) Relax. Turning off your screens gives you and your brain a rest from the chaos online and the negative effects of screen lighting. And if you use the time take care of yourself, whether it’s walking or spending time with family, you’ll find yourself calmer and more relaxed.
6) Increased productivity and effectiveness at work. Good health, a full night’s sleep and improved relationships all contribute your ability to get work done. When you take care of your mind and body, you have more energy and a positive mood and outlook, all of which help you think and work better.