If you want to make the most of your holidays and come back refreshed and full of inspiration, you need to do some digital detoxing, or “unplugging” from your electronic devices. This isn’t to say you must leave your phone locked up at home (though if you can, that is fantastic!). What it does mean is it’s important you give yourself some time to disconnect from the internet, social media, emails and apps. Here is why:
- More meaningful interactions
Our relationship with digital media offers us easy access to an infinite array of amusement and distractions, as well as news and information. But it is bottomless. There is more out there than we can consume, which often leaves us with that unconformable feeling of FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out. Which in turn drives us to checking in compulsively and obsessively, and having 8 second attention spans (literally).
A side effect of this is that we are often distracted when interacting with others, and struggle to be fully present and engaged in our own lives. To use an analogy, we are too busy posting a pretty photo of a sunset on social media, and reading others comments about it, to just enjoy the beauty of the moment.
Conversely, unplugging will help you to be more focused, more mindful and to pay better attention to others. Which, unsurprisingly, can greatly deepen and enhance relationships.
However, if you are addicted to the internet or your devices, be prepared to experience some initial withdrawal before you are able to enjoy real world connections.
Being constantly connected and available is stressful. It’s hard to ignore the alerts that pop up on your phone. ‘What if it’s important?’ you wonder. And so you check. Most likely it is not important, and yet it will gobble up a chunk of your time. (After all, now that you’ve read the whatsapp message your friend will see the blue ticks and will be waiting for your response. Or the email reply will take 2 minutes, so rather just get it done, right?)
While being so connected offers many benefits – such as being able to do your work almost anywhere – if it is uninterrupted, day in and day out, it will start to wear you down. This is why taking the time to regularly unplug is important for your health and state of mind. The Christmas holidays are an ideal time to do this, as fortunately most other companies close, so you really can afford to not be available.
- Better sleep
Did you know that screen time before going to bed hampers the quality of your sleep? It’s all about melatonin, the hormone that your body produces in response to sunlight, and which tells your internal clock it’s time to wake up. Unfortunately screen light confuses your brain into thinking it’s day time, and the melatonin release will make it harder for you to fall asleep, as well as cause you to have a less restful night of sleep.
Getting enough sleep has many associated benefits for you, so read a book rather than Facebook before you hit the pillow.
- Bored is brilliant
Another important reason to unplug, according to US tech journalist Manoush Zomorodi, is so that you can be creatively inspired and have some of your best ideas. In her book, Bored and brilliant, she draws on scientific studies and real-life examples to show that boredom is actually a crucial tool for making our lives happier, more productive, and more creative. Being bored is an important human experience that has existed throughout time. It has sparked some of our best inventions, cultural practices and greatest pieces of art.
The ideas for Instagram and Dropbox came when the founders were on the road and not at their desks. So getting bored (and being ‘unproductive’) can help your business after all.