Our relationship with technology is complicated. We want to be able to reach people anytime, anywhere, but that doesn’t mean we want people to necessarily reach us. There’s been a bit of a tech backlash lately, which in part led to the creation of the National Day of Unplugging (March 6). But instead of just disconnecting one day and being digitally overloaded the other 364 days of the year, we talked to Orianna Fielding, author of “Unplugged” about a way to find balance year-round.
Stop sleeping by your phone. Fielding strongly advises ditching the habit of sleeping with your phone on the nightstand next to you or using it as your alarm clock. She also stays to break the habit of looking at it right before you go to bed. “Looking at a bright screen, however small, just before going to sleep makes the body release approximately 22 percent less melatonin, which is the hormone that triggers sleep,” she says.
Create a digital-free space at home. Finding a quiet nook in your apartment where you can sit without distractions can really reduce your stress levels. “Creating a space both physical and mental where you can just pause, think and unwind goes a long way toward helping you reconnect with yourself, family and friends,” she says. Any time you need a peaceful moment, you can relax in your digital-free space, whether it be a chair in the living room or even the bathtub.
Leave your desk more. A lot of offices have gotten into the habit of using emails or instant messaging as the primary form of communication, even with someone who sits one cubicle over. Fielding says to counteract that by taking 10-minute breaks away from your desk every couple of hours. Not only is it more personal, she says it will give your mind a chance to recharge and help clear your mind, ultimately making you a better worker.
Keep your phone off the dinner table. OK, maybe you want to Instagram your food first, but as soon as you take that pic, stash your phone. And if you have a friend who has a habit of texting while you’re trying to catch up, Fielding says the best thing to do is to lead by example. “Be someone who never has their phone out in the company of other people,” she says.
Make “digital detoxing” a habit. Whether you start a habit of disconnecting for a couple hours every night or for an entire day every week, Fielding says you’ll instantly feel less stressed. “A digital detox will increase your ability to resist the call of the social network siren,” Fielding says. “You’ll feel less hurried and time will be less pressurized and allow for more quality moments.”
New York City event:
Unplug at Spin Ping Pong and play for free
On March 6th, come by SPIN between 4-10pm, check your phone with the concierge and you’ll get a free half-hour of ping pong! For more information, go to www.newyork.wearespin.com/unplug-pong.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence