Do you need to go on a digital detox diet this weekend?
To find someone walking around without a smartphone or tablet in hand may seem like a rare sight today. Recent research now shows that gadgets and our extreme use of them in current times could be making us sick. The medical repercussions include mild discomfort like eye strain and headaches to neck and muscle problems (carpal tunnel syndrome anyone?) to more long-term effects like excess screen time causing disruptions to melatonin production which in turn effects sleep quality and mood fluctuations, loss of focus and a lack of concentration to name a few.
This harmful trend in increased gadget reliance has even led to a lexicon of new terminology, most of which have been conveniently abbreviated to suit our SMS-inclined generation. Terms like CPA (continuous partial attention), FOMO (Fear of missing out), YOLO (you only live once) and IRL (in real life!) show just how much the virtual world has taken over our lives. So what does one do to keep this digital dependence at bay? A digital diet perhaps?
Here's our take on how to unplug and have a gadget-free weekend!
1) Lock it in a box - Put all gadgets [this means ALL smartphones, tablets, laptops, e-readers, gaming consoles, et all] in a box. Keep the box aside, in a cupboard, or somewhere hard to reach. If you absolutely must have at least your phone around for emergencies put everything else away and keep your phone on airplane mode or on similar settings so that all that comes through are emergency calls.
2) Strength in numbers - Rope in a friend or the rest of your family to do the digital detox with you. This definitely helps you stay accountable and on track. As a bonus you'll also get to discover if misery does indeed love company!
3) Let others know - Technology is now a part of life so don't go cold turkey and give up your gadgets for the weekend without letting the important people in your life know how and where they can reach you IRL. The last thing you want is to create panic when your parents or friends think it's time to notify the authorities since you're not picking up their calls or replying to messages.
4) Go old school - The above will free up a lot of your time so unless you've got a plan you're going to face some pretty severe withdrawal symptoms (think reaching for your phone that just isn't there or feeling the jitters just thinking about what you're missing out on social media or the stress at the thought of those many unread emails piling up in your inbox!). Plan instead to fill your time with doing tons of things the old fashioned way - read a book, get your hands dirty gardening or painting, make something from scratch, write a letter or mail a postcard to a friend who lives abroad, cook a dish from a cuisine you've never tried before. There's a restorative charm in retraining your mind and body to do things you've been using your gadgets for and the simple joys in life like when you rediscover the fun of colouring a page like you did back when you were a kid in school is truly priceless.
5) Get physical - Stretch. Walk. Skip. Dance! Do something physical that gets your adrenaline pumping and gets you some much needed fresh air. From a walk in nature to that new yoga routine you've wanted to try to jumping around with the little ones in your life - the possibilities for physical activity are endless once we get the gadgets we're usually chained to out of the picture.
6) Do something crazy, do everything and do NOTHING - If you've done all the above and still feel time crawling along do something you've always thought it was nuts to do. Go to a shooting range and learn to fire a rifle or go horse riding! Or do everything that's been on your postponed 'someday-when-I-have-the-time' list.
Reclaim your life with a much needed digital detox this weekend!