The Problem: We’ve become hyperdependent on our phones.
The Science: Technology can have a negative impact on our well-being.
The Solution: Here’s how to set good boundaries with your tech.
Have you ever had a friend or colleague who just can’t seem to put their phone down? Are you that person? Today, our phones and computers take up most of the hours in our lives. Emails, notifications, and messages buzz us incessantly and draw our attention away from the present moment. Yet, we never think about disconnecting. In fact, we actually thrive off of this constant stimulation. Research has shown that people prefer to electrocute themselves rather than simply do nothing. To avoid being alone with our thoughts, we pull out our devices to escape our own minds. Technology, however, is not the safe haven we’ve been searching for. It can actually harm our well-being. The good news is you can significantly improve your quality of life by developing a healthier relationship with your technology.
What is Our News Feed Doing to Us?
When we pull out our phones, one of the first places we go to is Facebook. Immediately, we’re inundated by a stream of posts about engagements, marriages, holidays, and job offers. All these positive events overwhelm us and make us feel unsatisfied with our own lives, wondering why all those wonderful things aren’t happening to us. If you have felt jealous of someone else’s success or happiness, this is what I am talking about – I see it on my girlfriend’s face every other time she has been browsing for too long. Because Americans place more value on high-intensity positive emotions (excitement, elation, etc.), people only want to share the good parts of their lives on social media. Thus, the news feed we compare ourselves to is actually an incomplete picture. So what can you do? Limit your browsing on social media. Studies show that happiness increases after just one week away from Facebook! If you can’t stand to cut the cord completely, keep in mind you’re looking at a filtered (in more ways than one) version of life.
What We Gain When We Disconnect
You have probably heard many times that stepping away from technology is beneficial. But has anyone ever told you how taking a break from it will benefit your professional and personal life? When you’re in desperate need of a break at work, swap your internet browsing for a ten-minute walk. The simple act of walking has been shown to boost our creativity. Yes, walking makes us more creative. You’ll hopefully return to your desk with a novel approach to the task at hand. Lessening your dependence on technology can also make you a more charismatic person. The life of the party doesn’t stand in the corner scanning people’s tweets! They’re the center of attention, engaging in conversations with the people right in front of them. What’s more, putting down your phone will allow you to be more present in your everyday interactions with the people you care about most. Don’t make them feel like you take them for granted because your phone just vibrates, and you’re hardwired to check it!
“But I Don’t Have Time to Disconnect:” Think Again.
What is important here is not to begin a complete technology cleanse. It is 2017 – we all need to connect to the online realm and check our notifications. But don’t let technology eat up every free second you have in the day! You don’t need to drop everything and interrupt what you’re doing to respond to your device. End the rat race of constant stimulation, and carve out technology-free moments for yourself and others. Take time with your next conversation. Take time to go for a walk. Take time to be present in the moment. Ending my dependence on my smartphone has noticeably improved my interactions and relationships this month. Perhaps it can do the same for you!