“There’s no Wi-Fi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection.” —Ralph Smart
(Excerpt from Lisa’s new book, Tech-Free Vacations for Your Busy Life)
Our lives have merged with technology for quite some time. While we work, we may connect to the Internet and digital devices to complete our tasks. When spending time at home, we may watch TV, doom scroll (scroll through online feeds and focus on negative news), review and respond to social media, play video games, and research online.
There are many challenges with technology. One issue is the constant bombardment with notifications and distractions from emails, texting, social media, and more. While there are benefits to having this information and connection with others, it is also distracting and makes us less productive.
We lose a lot of time scrolling on social media and viewing others’ lives, the latest news events, and updating our status. We get sad and depressed due to focusing on the majority of news that focuses on negativity. The need for constant connectedness makes us anxious. We feel like we have to check our email and texts, thus becoming exhausted. Sometimes we need a technological break.
A positive way to improve your relationship with technology is to create a break from it by creating boundaries. This practice is healthy and allows you to have strong connections with family and friends. One of the best ways to take a break from technology is to spend time in nature. Nature is a buffer and antithesis to technology. As soon as you’re outdoors and not on a blue screen, you feel your stress and anxiety dissipate—fresh air, exercise, open space, a change of scenery—nature is magical.
It doesn’t matter whether you take a short outdoor walk, a long hike, go camping, ride a mountain bike, go kayaking, or relax in a hammock. The effect of the outdoors is one of the best ways to decompress from technology.
Turning off notifications allows you to avoid the distractions of “dings” and fully live in the present moment. This is relaxing for both your body and mind.
Another trick to handle the effects of technology is to delete items that waste your time: social media apps, mobile games, news apps, and other apps that may have “empty” content. Try eliminating something that takes your time. If it’s gone for a few days and you don’t miss it, you probably don’t need to bring it back.
For the websites and apps you still have, you may want to set a time limit for yourself and set up your device to stop working when you reach your “limit.” For example, you might limit your viewing time to one hour of social media per day. You might also stop using your mobile device up to one hour before your bedtime.
When you start putting boundaries on the time you spend with technology tools, you’ll discover you have more time and are less distracted. It won’t be easy to create this habit when you first try taking breaks. You might feel anxiety and distraction, but if you keep focused on minimizing screen time, you’ll begin to enjoy the break from technology.
Immediate benefits will be more free time for hobbies and interests, more time with friends and family, and less stress and anxiety. You’ll notice more present-moment awareness, improved sleep, deeper connections with others, better focus and learning, and productivity.
You can do many things to add more balance between technology and your work and life. It starts with being aware and making healthy choices.
Here are a few ideas:
- Keep your phone out of the bedroom and use an old-fashioned alarm clock.
- Turn off your technology an hour before bedtime.
- When you spend a lot of time using technology, get outdoors.
- Eliminate old or unused or time-wasting apps.
- Turn off all notifications when working or spending time with people.
- Delete all old social media accounts that you’re not using or don’t enjoy.
- Put your phone on “silent” when you need tech-free time.
- Walk every day, and don’t bring your smartphone with you.
- Turn your technology off for an afternoon or part of a weekend when you don’t have to work.
- Be aware and decide if you need to respond to notifications at all.
- Create a device-free zone in your home, like your bedroom.
While it may seem that technology is a negative factor in our lives, there are many positives to using these tools. It allows us instant access to a lot of information, makes us more productive, and lets us stay in contact with people all around the globe. In fact, during the pandemic, access to technology was our saving grace. While the world was in lockdown, we maintained contact with family and friends, and some of us kept our careers going by switching from offices to remote work from home. As with anything, technology is best when used in moderation and balanced with other interests in your life. It’s a valuable tool, and when used well, it’s a great benefit to your work and personal life.