You know a word or phrase has permeated the zeitgeist when it finds its way into the Oxford English Dictionary. And, given we live in a world of digital domination, it may be unsurprising that the buzzphrase “digital detox” has manoeuvred its way in (though, ironically, only in the online edition. Go figure). Technology should enhance, not distract us from, our lives but our ever-increasing digital connectivity means we are becoming less and less physically and emotionally connected. Digital detox doubter? A break from your (digital) routine may be the very thing you need, and you could be surprised by the results…
Disconnect to re-connect “I just have so much free time”. Said no-one. Ever. We are Generation Stress; living in a 24/7 world where it’s a constant battle to juggle work, life and relationships. The intensifying demands on our time are compounded by our online OCD and many of us have lost the ability to just be in the moment and “embrace the slow”. Ask yourself this: how long has it been since you took time out and lost yourself in your own thoughts? If you had to pause, chances are it’s been too long. Turning off your devices allows you to hone in to the powerful practice of being present. Meditation not your bag? Use your digital downtime to try that dance class or the ‘Lean in 15’ recipe your colleagues have been raving about. “Sometimes you just have to unplug from everything to find yourself again” (Robin Lee). So, clear your schedule – it’s time to disconnect and focus on you.
Update your mental state, not just your Facebook status There’s no doubt that social media can be a forum for self-expression, inspiration and education and we can take pleasure in checking out what our latest “fitspo” blogger is eating or lusting over pictures of our friend’s gorgeous new house. However, over-exposure to carefully curated and heavily filtered social media images (or “highlight reels”) has the potential to heighten feelings of anxiety. A recent study found a strong link between those straddling multiple social platforms and feelings of depression and anxiety in young adults. Remember that “comparison is the thief of joy” so resist the temptation to mindlessly scroll; when you go online do so with intent and make a conscious decision to build in breaks from online socialising. Better yet, try “FaceTime: the analogue version” and arrange that long-overdue lunch with your bestie.
Become a productivity powerhouse Visualise this: you leave work at 5pm, to-do list completely ticked off and not a care in the world. Sound familiar? Didn’t think so. Whether it’s the ‘ping’ of a notification on your smartphone or the yellow envelope agitator symbol signalling the arrival of a new email, our workdays are punctuated by a constant stream of digital interruptions and distractions (phone, email, text, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter… need I go on?). Such distractions negatively affect our workflow and compromise our productivity. Technology has exacerbated the unrealistic expectations of what we can achieve in a humble 24 hours which has led us to view multi-tasking as our default setting. And while we may applaud ourselves for our ‘efficiency’ this constant attention shift means we are failing to give any one task the individual concentration it deserves. It’s time to work smarter, not harder so don’t allow your devices to hijack your productivity, turn off notifications (where possible) and make uni-tasking your new BFF. You never know, it might just help you ace that presentation or nail that promotion.
Upgrade your Zzzzzzzzzzzs Fact: your body needs sleep to survive. It is one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle and so often under-estimated for those looking to up their wellness game. Electronic devices, such as your smartphone, tablet or e-reader, emit short-wavelength blue lights which can interfere with your sleep and your body clock or your circadian rhythms. The light from our screens also affects the pineal gland in our brain, causing it to produce less melatonin – the hormone that helps you sleep. So, if you want to get some decent shut eye, it’s time to power down at least an hour before bed. And when it’s time to get in between the sheets, lose the phone and sleep on your own. Or with your significant other but definitely without your devices – three’s a crowd after all…
It’s true that “where attention goes, energy flows” so why not invite your mind to quiet; “consciously uncouple” from your devices and resolve to live a little more mindfully in this digital world.
words by Danielle Wardell
Co-Editor at Once Upon A Minimalist