The ease that technology has brought to our daily lives can’t be disputed. Tablets, smartphones, computers, even wristwatches give us access to vast amounts of information at the touch of a finger. Drones, 3-D printing and even robots are now accessible for the average Joe. Technology, however, can also be detrimental to our health, giving us poorer eyesight, shorter attention spans and text neck. We overuse technology, but in today’s society it’s hard not to. As society and technology continue to progress forward, it now becomes important to develop a healthier relationship to ever-expanding technologies. Implement a few of these tips to become more mindful about the way you use technology in your daily life.
1. Regularly go free of technology in the morning and at night. No, we’re not crazy, and yes, we know it’s hard. Build in an allotment of time each day, maybe an hour, in which you are free and outside the realm of connectivity. Give your brain time to think, absorb your environment and meditate. If you do this in the morning while you enjoy a cup of coffee, you will have time to prioritize your day in accordance to what you think is important, not what your texts or emails say is important. Or, go free of technology at night, when you’re winding down with a cup of tea. Charge your cellphone and laptop out of reach or in another room (the blue light from screens impairs the release of melatonin, a hormone that helps us rest). Read a book when you would normally watch a movie. Enjoy some hanky panky and then fall asleep. More than likely, your work day is full of pattering keyboards and Skype meetings. Reserve work for the office, and reserve relaxation for your home life.
2. Give airplane mode a try. If not having your cell phone on your person is too whacky for you, then give airplane mode a try. A noted philosopher Alain de Botton gave some hearty advice in an interview with the The Washington Post. He said that, “We need long train journeys on which we have no wireless signal and nothing to read, where our carriage is mostly empty, where the views are expansive and where the only sounds are those made by the wheels as they click against the rails.” Sit in silence. Don’t allow the notifications to disturb you. Be present in your situation. You don’t need to deny that the outside world exists, or that war and suffering exist. But, honor your interests, your hobbies and passions. Give life to whimsical thoughts. Throw a frisbee with the five-year-old boy next door. Play Scrabble with your mother and keep your iPad in your bag. Your one life should not be absorbed by a screen. Turn on airplane mode and simply don’t allow yourself to be connected when you really don’t need to be.
>> Read more: Are Cell Phones Dangerous For Your Family’s Health?
3. Ignore your phone when you’re on the move. Do not text and drive. Don’t become a statistic. Focus on the road. Don’t text and walk. Be present, look where you’re going and enjoy the sights around you. Stop and have an actual conversation with your regular barista. Value your friendships and value your surroundings by paying attention. The world is turning; don’t insult it by scrolling. Keep moving: Do yoga, go for a run or paddle around in a kayak. Keep moving so you can keep the technology at bay.
4. Use technology to stay mindful. Because going off the grid is seemingly impossible, use some mind-healthy apps available to you. Use Headspace, an app that helps beginner meditators find their calm. Try MindNode, an app for visual learners that allows you to actually map out your thoughts and generate new ideas. Or, try Pomodoro, an app to help workers harness their focus and introduce small breaks into their work day. Remember that your brain needs a workout just as much as your body. These apps can enhance and focus your creativity, but don’t depend on them completely. Stay curious about the world around you, and mindfully engage in thought-provoking conversations and activities.
You live a balanced lifestyle by eating well and staying active, but adding too much technology can throw the equation out of whack. Relationships thrive on honesty. So be honest about your use of technology: Are you scrolling through Instagram when you could be taking a hike, or answering emails when your hubby is trying to have a conversation with you? Try out one or a few of these tips. It might take time to become more mindful in this way, but doing so will reconnect you with the world around you (and that includes yourself)!