It’s time to disconnect, in order to reconnect!
I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
– Brené Brown
The world has never been more connected. We live in extraordinary times in the human history where we are globally connected.
But is it time for a digital detox?
Before last Christmas, I found myself not having enough time to do anything; preparations for Christmas and New Year’s, online shopping looking for the best New Year’s cocktail drink and finding where I can locate a make up colour palette from the latest You-tuber for my daughters. My head felt foggy and my eyes sore, I would stay awake till 2 or 3 am in the morning watching Youtube videos on my phone or just scrolling through Instagram and Facebook to see what others were doing during the festivities.
Limit your screen time…
Then I stumbled across this feature on my iPhone— “Screen Time”. It allowed me to set what time my phone will not be available and I entered 10 pm to 7 pm. During this time, my phone would go into a temporary hibernation where I can still use it but need to make a conscious decision as to whether it is necessary or not.
We are junkies!
Unfortunately, we have become so connected virtually that we have actually lost touch and connection with loved ones.
Statistics have it that the average American spend close to 10 hours in front of a screen every day. The number is pretty alarming, but what’s worse is what studies have been revealing on the effects of prolonged screen time. Both the short term and long-term effects of extended times in the screens change the chemical operations and physical nature of your brain. It makes you lose a sense of the world and leads to irritation, thus hindering healthy social life with other people.
Many of us intrinsically know that the relationship we have with the screens is unhealthy—yet we don’t keep off! It is impossible to describe how much we feel compelled to check our phones, Ipads, computers or even the TV. It gets even worse when we don’t just do it alone, but with others. A typical scenario is in a restaurant where everyone is locked to their screens which ultimately fills the conversational void.
Is your head buried in your phone?
When I recently visited a restaurant and was waiting for my food, I took my time to look around and could not help but notice without exception that all the customers were using their smartphones. Those that came as friends or colleagues at work were also victims, and they all took glances at their smartphones whenever they had a chance.
Riding in a public bus, wasn’t any different, I noticed that virtually no passenger made eye contact with the other but stayed glued on their smartphones and some continued to do so even after alighting the bus. Well, this is a common trend in almost every part of the world today. With technology advancement, no individual wants to remain behind.
However, the effects are hitting us hard with facts. Our souls are strangely enslaved to our “smart “devices—a new addiction that nobody finds it toxic. We no longer ask for directions, because we have an app that will take us straight there.
We don’t discuss our various opinions with colleagues anymore or ask them questions when we are in doubt because Google is there to answer all our queries. With the internet and the little device on our hands, we are” self-sufficient”. It means that we can virtually roam the world and do everything we want without the help of our fellow human beings.
When we can live, work and lead with kindness and compassion, we are more balanced, more creative, more connected and more effective.
– Nichol Stark
The shocking statistics
Data around the world shows that there is an increase of new smartphone users every day especially in parts of Asia like India and China. These numbers show that while this number is expected to flatten in the next few months, our love affair with our little devices won’t be slowing down any time soon.
- Australia has one of the highest global smartphone penetrations that sits at 84% coming fourth as the largest market globally after Norway 91%, South Korea 89% and Netherlands 87% as revealed by the Deloitte Mobile Consumer Survey.
- Another shocking revelation from the survey revealed that 27% of Australians don’t make voice calls, stating that they prefer sending text messages to calling directly.
- Other related statistics pointed out that 11% of Australians check their mobile phones immediately they wake up. 12% check their phones before going to bed.
- Despite the recommendations for people to switch off their phones an hour before bedtime, only 25% of individuals are practising this recommendation.
- A whopping 30 % of Australians check their phones in the middle of the night, and 70% of that number doesn’t include checking the time.
- That we can assume is the young people between the ages of 18 and 24 checking messages or group chats and social media notifications.
- 4% of Australians read their work emails at night, and half of this number respond to them.
How do we fix it?
From the data above a lot needs to be done. We apparently and deliberately need to disengage from stuff that clutters our relationships with our family and friends, that crowd our lives so that we lack time for ourselves, and things that isolate us from the real world. We should also detach from things that distract our attention to important aspects of our lives and digitally detox and disconnect in order to reconnect. Rather than idolise our smartphone way of life, the real smart move is to prioritise on what is more precious in our lives and use the device wisely.
Prepare your mind
Your brain is the prime director of your actions—it craves novelty and stimulation. Whenever it is stimulated your brain releases some dopamine—a neuro-chemical substance that makes you look forward to the things that excite you or things that you crave to do. Dopamine encourages you to repeat this activity, and the more you repeat, the more dopamine is released. So, if you fancy chatting, your brain will always look forward to chatting and will release dopamine to help.
Our poor brains are like junkies in a pharmacy. The pull of instant gratification is too appealing — it’s just so easy to OD on media
Therefore, for you to successfully pull through the addiction of prolonged screen usage, you have to start preparing the mind. Let the guy up there know your intentions and to make it more natural, look for another hobby that will replace it. For instance, instead of scrolling on the phone the whole of lunch break, you can result in reading a favourite book or swimming, just anything that will completely divert your mind.
Keep gadgets away one hour before bedtime and after waking up
The most brilliant way to start your day is setting your plans for the day and reviewing them –that is if you didn’t do it the previous night. I was a victim of waking up to check my phone with the applications. I ended up wasting almost an hour that I would have used for a morning walk or do something extractive. But I later realised that an alarm clock at my bedside was all I needed to get things in shape and Mr mobile phone can wait till later to be viewed.
Every day when you first wake up, your mind should straightaway visualise how your day is going to be including the activities going to take place. During that hour you can pray, meditate, exercise or engage in your favourite morning activity. Similarly, your last hour before bed is equally essential and should be spent preparing for the next day as well as going through the day’s events.
Go outside and just walk on the grass or go for a drive or go the beach. Look up at the sky, the stars – and breathe. You’ll be amazed at how much you have been missing out on.
Keep your phone away and Turn off all your push notifications
Another tip that saved me from distractions is turning off push notifications. It not only protects your battery life but most importantly saves you from unnecessary distractions. Turn all push notifications from messages, emails, chat, social media apps and any other distracting information. Anyone who really needs you urgently will surely call you.
Sometimes, just seeing your phone is enough to distract you from what you are doing or lower your concentration even if you have turned off the notifications or have switched it off. So, why not go that extra mile and ultimately keep it away from you? This can be quite challenging for anyone who cannot stay idle in a queue or drive silently. But there is always a first time for everything. Leave your phone behind, tell your family and friends when they can reach you. Practice waiting in line without your phone or keeping it off in your pocket and I can assure you there is a whole big world out there waiting to interact with you non-virtually.