No Technology – The Benefits of Unplugging
It’s quite unfortunate that in the modern technology-driven world, technical gadgets have become a core part of our lives.
Whether you’re checking your emails, making calls on your phone, or keeping up with the latest happenings on social media, the inescapable truth is that our lives now revolve around screens.
While technology does wonderful things to make our lives easier and more convenient, scientific studies have proven that unplugging from your gadgets has many benefits.
In this article, we will take a look at the key benefits of unplugging and why you should always remember that there’s life beyond your smartphone.
Unplugging is basically the act of taking a break from all the tech gadgets that you use in your everyday life.
The goal of unplugging is to reduce your dependency on technology to live a more meaningful and happier life. It’s a way of withdrawing from technology addiction, which affects the majority of people today.
A good number of scientific studies have proven that a significant percentage of people today suffer from serious technology addiction problems.
In a recent TIME Mobility Poll survey conducted in 8 countries including the US, the UK, China, and other nations, it was found that 84% of the respondents couldn’t go for a single day without their mobile phone.
One in four of the people surveyed claimed they usually check their phones after every 30 minutes while one in five glances at their phones every ten minutes.
Here are a few more studies that clearly demonstrate how serious technology addiction is:
- In the United States, 88% of consumers use their phones as a second screen when watching TV.
- Close to 50% of mobile phone owners sleep with their phones close at hand to avoid missing calls and messages sent at night.
- Watching TV eats up more than 6 days or approximately 144 hours and 54 minutes of your time every month.
- Overall, mobile device owners check their gadgets every 6.5 minutes.
It’s, therefore, quite apparent that humans are increasingly developing an unhealthy attachment to technology. Cellphone addiction isn’t only becoming too common but has also surpassed all other forms of addiction including drug and alcohol dependency. It’s time we all took measures to fight technology addition by unplugging.
It’s quite easy to unplug from technology. All you need to do is lock away all the technology devices you think you can’t do without and forget them for a week, weekend, or even 40 days if possible.
Unplugging doesn’t just mean turning off your phone for a few hours but means switching off your television, computer, tablets, radio, and any other electronic device that you regularly use.
It means turning off all screens and audio devices so you can learn to appreciate the natural world around you. Unplugging also means getting away from it all by taking a break from your stressful technology-driven work environment and spending quality time in a quiet stress-free zone.
Key Benefits of Unplugging from Technology
So, what are the benefits of regularly unplugging from technology? Well, there’s a lot of research that proves that unplugging helps you live a healthier and happier life.
Here are a few scientifically-proven benefits of taking a break from technology:
Better Quality of Life
Unplugging from technology helps you improve your overall quality of life. In a study done at the University of Maryland, researchers found that students who unplugged from technology had a more improved quality of life than those who stuck to their phones and other electronic gadgets.
In the study, “improved quality of life measured the amount of time the students spent with friends, performed regular exercises, cooked their own food, and ate more nutritious and healthier foods.
All these changes happened because the students avoided spending time on their mobile phones and other technological gadgets. They had more free time to spend on more meaningful activities.
The same principle also applies to our day to day lives. When we stop wasting time on screens and other technological devices, we find time to do things that will improve our quality of life, such as cooking and eating healthy meals, engaging in physical exercises, spending quality time with other like-minded people, and improving our social skills. Unplugging will help you live a healthier and happier life.
Better Interpersonal Communication and Deeper Connections with Other People
Unplugging from technology helps you develop better communication and deeper connections with other people. Social media may provide you with a convenient platform to meet other people online and make more friends but its level of interpersonal engagement cannot be equated to good old face-to-face communication.
The findings of a study published in ScienceDirect showed that pre-teens who spent 5 days in a camp without technology outperformed their media-exposed age mates in recognizing non-verbal cues of emotions.
In another study, it was determined that the mere presence of a phone in a normal conversation between partners inhibited more meaningful and deeper communication. The phone was a major distracting factor in the conversation. It was also proven in a 2013 study that sharing a lot of information on social media will have a negative impact on your interpersonal relationships.
When you share information on social media, some of it may be offensive to some people such as your loved one or boss and the seemingly innocent act may have undesirable future consequences in your relationships with other people.
Unplugging from technology helps you build stronger relationships with others and develop your communication skills outside the brief text and screen-based medium.
Nothing can replace the experience of face-to-face communication when you want to build and maintain deeper connections and genuine relationships with others.
Unplugging Helps You to Overcome Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
Behavioral scientists now recognize the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) as one of the emerging psychological disorders caused by technology addiction.
So, what is FOMO? In simple terms, FOMO is the fear of being left out of what’s currently trending or popular. Social media streams nowadays are filled with notifications about what’s happening around you at all times. As you become more engaged with this constant stream of events, from what your friends are eating or where they are hanging out, your fear of being left out keeps on growing.
FOMO can potentially grow to a point where you are forced to go out of your way to belong to a certain group of people. Most people end up spending more than they can afford on things they don’t really need just because they don’t want to be left out.
When you turn off technology and social media, you learn how to live a realistic and personally fulfilling life without fear and anxiety of missing out.
Increased Awareness of the Present Moment
In a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, it was reported that a majority of adults in the US keep their phones close all day and night without even turning off the gadgets.
Most people’s lives today are ruled by phone calls, incoming texts, emails, and social media notifications. Their moment-to-moment experience is constantly fragmented by tech interruptions.
The good news is that you can simply unplug from technology by switching off your phone and other devices and experience the magical life moments happening around you without interruptions. You don’t have to keep your face buried in your phone’s screen when there are many wonderful things happening around you.
Life experiences come and go but you are likely to miss them when you are constantly focused on technology.
Unplugging Helps You to Recharge and Become More Energized
When you unplug from technology and get away from the technology-driven work environment for some time, you’ll feel more energized, happier, and confident to face the day ahead. Most jobs today are heavily reliant on technology and often tend to leave us drained, stressed out, and in a foul mood at the end of the day.
When you carry the burden at home in the form of emails, presentations, and more time in front of a computer screen, you become more exhausted and stressed out. That’s why you should learn to unplug completely after work and simply relax to rejuvenate your mind.
The benefits of unplugging after work are even backed by scientific research findings. A team of researchers at Kansas State University found that unplugging at home after work improves the quality of life, happiness, and overall health.
The study found that people who unplugged from activities related to work such as reading and replying emails after work hours felt more refreshed and recharged when they reported back to work the next day. If you have ever experienced a burn-out or severe fatigue at work, you know how revitalizing a good night’s rest can be.
Unplugging Makes You Sleep Better
A 2013 PEW study found that 44% of Americans sleep with their phones close by so as not to miss calls, text messages, and social media posts or comments sent in the middle of the night.
Well, if you are constantly being woken up by social media notifications, funny tweets, Facebook post likes from your 5,000 friends, and random GIFs that add no value to your life, your sleep patterns will suffer and you’ll definitely wake up the next morning feeling tired and possibly in a foul mood.
You are supposed to have around 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep so you can completely rest and rejuvenate your strength.
You need to give your body and mind sufficient time to relax and recharge by unplugging before you go to sleep. Research also suggests that the light from the screen of your computer or mobile phone affects your body’s ability to sleep, which is why you should unplug from your phone or laptop before you sleep.
Unplugging Keeps You More Focused and Productive
Technology has a way of preventing us from focusing on other important matters. Have you ever tried to do something important but found yourself stuck on Facebook or Instagram for the next half hour instead?
That’s the kind of distraction technology causes in your life making you forget about more important things. The distractions often have a negative impact on your productivity but if you can unplug from your devices, you’ll be more focused to deliver better and faster results on your work.
Media breaks have been proven scientifically to hamper one’s productivity. In a recent study whose findings were summarized in a 2017 essay by Nicholas Carr titled How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds, it was proven that when students are allowed to text and surf the Internet in the classroom, their mobile phone causes distractions and often disrupts the lesson.
Mobile phones have also been found to reduce intellectual acuity because of their high level of mental distraction. It’s no surprise that many schools in countries such as the UK now ban the use of mobile phones inside the classroom. Unplugging helps you avoid distractions, improve your focus, and increase your productivity.
Unplugging Helps to Get Over a Failed Relationship
For most people, getting over an ex-lover can be emotionally traumatic. While it’s only time that can heal the wounds of a relationship break up, it also helps to stop seeing your ex’s pictures and comments on social media.
According to findings of a 2012 research study, unplugging from technology is an effective way of getting over a breakup. The study found that the more you are reminded of your ex by following their activities on social media, reading their blog, or viewing their pictures, the more difficult it becomes to move on with your life.
When you unplug from technology after a breakup, you’ll feel fewer negative feelings and anger for your ex and find encouragement to move on. As someone said, what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve for.
Unplugging Eliminates Unhealthy Feelings of Loneliness and Jealous
A recent research study revealed one frightening aspect of Facebook addiction. The study found out that one in three Facebook users usually felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives every time they visited the hugely popular social media platform.
While it’s true that not every interaction that happens on Facebook results in negative reactions, our own experience shows that the competitive nature among Facebook users can potentially leave you feeling more lonely, jealous, and dissatisfied with your life.
It’s quite natural to develop feelings of resentment towards other people who constantly post images depicting happy families, rich lifestyles, exotic vacations, and all forms affluence, especially when you are going through tough financial challenges.
The envy and feelings of hopelessness will have a toll on your productivity and overall well-being. Unplugging helps you to focus less on other people’s seemingly affluent lives and concentrate more on building a better life for yourself based on your personal goals and abilities.
It makes you feel grateful for what life has blessed you without comparing yourself to other people.
How to Unplug from Technology and Focus on Your Personal Growth
Technology and especially social media expose you to a wide range of stressors that may impede on your personal growth. You will not progress much in life if you are constantly checking what your friends are up to or how well your ex is doing.
When you see photos of your friends having a good time in an event you weren’t invited, you’ll start thinking less of yourself and lose your drive to progress in life.
It’s therefore important to unplug and get off social media so you can focus on your personal well-being instead of focusing on what other people are doing with their lives. Unplugging helps you stop worrying about others and start worrying about your well-being.
However, the big question is how do you unplug in today’s technologically-driven world?
Here are a few helpful tips to help you unplug from technology:
- Learn to start your day after you wake up without checking your phone or other devices. Commit the first hour of your day to meditation or mentally visualizing your upcoming day without the help of technology.
- Choose a specific day or weekend to completely unplug and stick to the routine every week. You’ll soon realize that the world of technology has always been fine without you and just one or two more days won’t end the world.
- Find a specific period every day to unplug and simply relax without your phone, laptop, or other tech devices. The more you stick to the routine, the better you’ll become at unplugging.
- Join the Screen-Free Week or other similar movements. When you participate in collective unplugging efforts with the support of other like-minded people, you’ll practically see how others are benefiting from unplugging and motivate yourself to keep off technology as much as your lifestyle can allow. There are many resources at ScreenFree.Org to help you reclaim your technology-free well-being.
While it’s necessary to regularly check your emails, send out texts, make calls, and see what’s happening on social media, addiction to such technology-driven activities can lead to a self-reinforcing pattern in your life. It’s therefore important to learn how to unplug from technology for as much as you can help it.
Unplugging comes with many benefits including the ability to develop greater mindfulness, deeper connections with other people, better sleep, and improved productivity in all aspects of life. Unplugging helps you live a fuller life.