Disconnect: How Unplugging Can Save Your Summer

By Genevieve Cunningham

The Power of Disconnecting

Constant connection is the way of the modern world. When’s the last time you went anywhere without your phone? Chances are good you can’t even remember. Most of us feel a little lost without this connection -- like a tether attaching our brain and thoughts to everyone else’s. When the tether is snipped, we hang in limbo wondering what to do with ourselves. Of course, there are plenty of solid reasons to keep the tether intact. This instant and continual communication allows us to talk with loved ones in a moment’s notice, gives us access to endless information, and makes most things in life easier and more streamlined.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, for every advantage of our connectivity, there’s at least one disadvantage. In some cases, disconnection is exactly what you need in order to thrive. But how do we know when enough is enough? If you’ve been feeling the struggle that comes with being plugged in, take a look at why disconnecting may be just what you need to end the summer with a bang and improve your life in general.

Let’s Start With the Physical

We’re not necessarily a lazy society, but we definitely use our resources to make things easier. If we can get our work done without leaving the couch, we’ll do it. If we can use our phone to ask our spouse upstairs what they want to eat, we’ll do it. If we can text our food order to the restaurant and have it delivered without ever leaving the bedroom, we’ll do it. We’ll choose the easiest route over and over again, and technology has made the route easier than ever before.

But beyond our poor choices regarding inactivity, the use of technology also encourages poor posture. Those who use technology all day are likely to suffer from a phenomenon known as tech neck, which happens when we tilt our heads forward and down, allowing gravity to increase the weight to the neck. This constant looking at a phone, tablet, or screen is causing pain. However, disconnecting provides an opportunity to correct your posture over time and can give your neck the respite it needs to heal.

Don’t Forget the Mental Strain

Perhaps it’s the mental effects of technology that are the most worrisome. Technology is stressful. Because we’re constantly connected, we feel like we should always be working, always making progress, always on call -- figuratively, if not literally. But this pressure to perform is causing stress levels to rise and stay elevated. And if we finally put away work and opt for pleasure, we’re bombarded with post after post of other people’s lives. At first, it’s nice to see into others’ worlds. But over time, we begin to compare. This brings on an entirely new level of stress that has us constantly worried whether we’re on track or whether we’re doing well enough in our own lives, or if we’re pretty or successful enough. Unfortunately, technology makes this almost impossible to avoid. Making the choice to disconnect is the best practice for alleviating that stress.

The Power of Addiction

Here’s the harsh truth, something not a single one of us wants to admit: we’re addicted. Even though we can feel the effects of connectivity, we’re basically Pavlov’s dogs. When the phone vibrates, we look at it. Our brains get a little pump of dopamine at the text or social media mention -- which means that we do this game of vibration and phone checking all day every day. No wonder we’re looking down at the phone all day (see tech neck above). It’s a powerful addiction that takes willpower and determination to break for good.

How Do We Accomplish the Impossible?

It really does feel impossible to give up technology in our modern world. The tether is stronger, thicker, and more prominent than ever before. Luckily, you don’t have to give it up for good to see benefits to your health and your life in general. According to multiple studies, one day per week is enough to allow your brain and body a chance to breathe. To recuperate. To reset. Pick a 24-hour period to power down, and include everyone in your home if possible. If you struggle, stay busy. Leave the house. Keeping your hands and mind busy make picking up the phone less appealing.

Allowing time to completely detox from technology just might save your physical and mental health while still allowing the good that comes with our modern, fast-paced approach to information and connection. Technology is a blessing and a curse. Take the good, leave the bad, and get control over your digital addiction for better health and a happier life.

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